samedi, 20 avril 2019

Communist Party of Swaziland calls for urgent response to arrests of pro-democracy activists

NELSPRUIT, 23 April : The Communist Party of Swaziland (CPS) has called on all governments, political parties, civil society organisations and labour unions to roundly condemn the arrest of leaders of the People’s United Democratic Movement (Pudemo), including its president Mario Masuku and a number of CPS activists.

Pro-democracy movement members had been demonstrating at the High Court yesterday (22 April), where the vicious persecution was underway of the editor of The Nation magazine Bheki Makhubu and human rights lawyer and writer for the magazine Thulani Maseko.

Pudemo, the CPS and other organisations have been drawing attention to the trial of Makhubu and Maseko, who are being prosecuted for criticizing the judiciary in articles in The Nation.

The magazine is Swaziland’s only news publication that dares condemn the Mswati autocracy, the lack of democracy and human rights and the regime’s its mind-boggling corruption.

Today, the police swooped on a number of Pudemo leaders and CPS members who had been at the demonstration, ostensibly for wearing Pudemo t-shirts. A number of activists escaped arrest. The detainees are still in custody and are being interrogated at Hhohho regional police headquarters in Mbabane.

"The excuse for their arrest is a chilling echo almost four years to the day of the murder in police custody of Sipho Jele in 2010, who was seized for wearing a Pudemo t-shirt at a May Day rally," said CPS general secretary Kenneth Kunene today.

The CPS is making a special plea to the government of South Africa to denounce the arrests, and the trial of Makhubu and Maseko.

It also appeals to the countries of the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) to take a stand against the criminal behaviour of the Mswati regime. And it calls on all members of the broader international community to begin to take notice of the dire situation in Swaziland.

"We need a concerted voice of condemnation of the Mswati regime’s brutality," said Kunene. "It is time the international community stopped looking the other way."

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