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Sunday, 10 April 2011

‘STATE FORCES WILL NOT DETER PROTEST’


The Swaziland Democracy Campaign says Swazi security forces, afraid of the success of last month’s mass demonstration that demanded the resignation of the entire government, are mobilising to stop protests planned for next Tuesday (12 April 2011).

Already, activists have been hauled in by police, tortured and threatened with death.

In a statement, SDC says, ‘What is heartening is that despite the escalation of state repression, road blocks, surveillance and intimidation, democracy activists and the organisations they represent are standing firm and have recommitted themselves to the struggle for a democratic Swaziland.’

The full statement is published below. 

SDC Press Statement On Recent Persecution of Democracy Activists in Swaziland 

8 April 2011

The Swaziland Democracy Campaign was horrified and outraged by reports that the police illegally arrested and detained the national youth organiser of the Peoples United Democracy Movement (PUDEMO) on Tuesday this week, and subjected him to torture and gross violations of his rights.

Comrade Kkolisi Ngcamphalana was arrested by security operatives, and held for 24 hours during which time he was very roughly manhandled and beaten, suffocated by having plastic bags put over his head, and endured threats to his life and those of his family. He was not given time the opportunity to answer scurrilous accusations levelled against him, or to make contact with legal or family representatives. On release the police took up positions outside his home, in an attempt to isolate and intimidate well wishers and supporters.

The purpose of his interrogation was to uncover plans for possible protest actions that will be taking place to mark April 12th next week, the date when 37 years ago, the constitution was suspended, and rule by Royal Decree was established, and remains in existence today. There have been a range of protests on this day for many years, by trade unions, faith based organisations and many social and community groups.

It is clear that the security forces are hoping to curtail any form of protest on April 12 this year because of the scale of the mobilisation that took place last month led by the trade union movement and the chronic state of the economy, and disarray among competing factions in the ruling elite.  Last month trade unions and other groups successfully protested about the chronic mismanagement of the economy, and attempts by the regime to shift the burden of the economic meltdown on to an already impoverished people. It is however universally accepted that the severe economic crisis owes much to gross corruption and the wastefulness of a regime that believes itself to be above the law. Two days ago the Prime Minister announced that protests of any description would be banned on April 12 forthwith.

What is heartening is that despite the escalation of state repression, road blocks, surveillance and intimidation, democracy activists and the organisations they represent are standing firm and have recommitted themselves to the struggle for a democratic Swaziland. There will be protests next week in Swaziland, what shape or form they take will be decided upon by those on the ground. There will be a march by COSATU and its affiliates to the border at Oshoek next Tuesday to show solidarity with those inside the country, and certainly the Swaziland Democracy Campaign will accelerate its activities. April 12 may come and go, the campaign for a democratic Swaziland will continue. There is no turning back.

These important matters will be discussed at a Public Rally on Sunday 10th April at 10.00am at the Civic Theatre in Braamfontein where representatives of the Swaziland United Democratic Front, Swaziland Trade Unions, COSATU and others will outline a Plan of Action for the coming period. All those willing to support the campaign are welcome to attend.

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