Freedom House Condemns Government Crackdown in Swaziland | Freedom House

Freedom House Condemns Government Crackdown in Swaziland

Washington

Freedom House strongly condemns the brutal crackdown in Swaziland today on citizens peacefully demanding dismissal of the corrupt government that has bankrupted their country. Freedom House calls upon the Swazi Government to immediately release detained civil society activists and to heed their demands for democratic change.  
 
Riot police used teargas, water cannons and physical force against protesters and arrested union leaders, activists, and journalists in an attempt to crush ongoing pro-democracy protests. Leaders of the country’s labor and youth movement were arrested in addition to scores of teachers and university students, who have been at the forefront of a nationwide demand for democratic reform. The leader of the banned Peoples United Democratic Movement is under house arrest, and foreign journalists have been detained.  Several of the union members detained have since been released, but as many as two hundred activists may remain in police holding centers at this time.
 
 “The Swazi regime has further forfeited any remaining legitimacy by brazenly demonstrating contempt for the fundamental human rights of citizens, who were understandably expressing their outrage at the government’s corruption and mismanagement of the economy,” said Robert Herman, director of programs at Freedom House. “Freedom House calls on the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) and the broader international community to join in condemning the Swazi regime and demand sweeping political reforms that adequately respond tothe demands of the Swazi people.”
 
The April 12 march was banned by Swazi authorities last week. Despite not being allowed to reach the main square in Manzini, the country’s main business district, more than 700 teachers gathered to voice their anger.  A number of union leaders planningto participate were rounded up by the security forces before the event commenced. More activists were brutally rounded up at random check points across the country, loaded into trucks, and sent to the Manzini Regional Police Headquarters. Other activists who were heading for Manzini City were forced out of their transport, detained, and sent home. Some of the union members plan to continue to demonstrate into the evening with an overnight vigil.
 
Swaziland is ranked Not Free in Freedom in the World 2011, Freedom House's survey of political rights and civil liberties, and Not Free in Freedom of the Press 2010.
 
For more information on Swaziland, visit:
 
 
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