Pressure is mounting for the UK Government to withdraw Swaziland King Mswati III’s invitation to the Royal Wedding.
It follows the decision announced today (28 April 2011) to ‘disinvite’ Sami Khiyami, the Syrian ambassador, because of his country’s appalling human rights record.
Today, a vigil was taking place outside the Saudi Arabia’s embassy in London to protest against Saudi Prince Mohamed bin Nawaf bin Abdulaziz’s invitation to the wedding in the light of the Saudi military intervention in the neighbouring Gulf state. Bahrain’s Crown Prince Salman al Khalifa has already pulled out of the wedding.
The protestors also want King Mswati’s invitation withdrawn.
Human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell, who is joining the demonstration, is reported by the Financial Times, UK, saying it is deplorable that the Queen has invited representatives from ‘dictatorships’, including Swaziland.
He said, ‘The guest list displays a shocking insensitivity to the suffering of people who have been persecuted by these royal despots. It is an insult to the victims of dictatorship for our royal family to welcome and embrace these oppressors.’
The BBC quoted the UK Foreign Office as saying, ‘An invitation does not mean endorsement or approval of the behaviour of any government, simply that we have normal diplomatic relations with that country.’
The Left Foot Forward website responded saying there were ‘still people on the [wedding] list that the Foreign Office should not wish to enjoy “normal relations” with, such as the king of Swaziland’. King Mswati III is the last absolute monarch in Africa, in a country where, ‘Political parties are banned, trade unions are massively restricted and the country scores lower than Zimbabwe for its political rights,’ it said.
The anti-monarchy campaign group Republic also criticised King Mswati’s invitation.
Republic chief Graham Smith said, ‘This guest list reads like a Who’s Who of tyrants and their cronies’.
Action for Southern Africa (ACTSA) has already called for King Mswati’s invitation to be reconsidered ‘and preferably revoked’.
It said, ‘At the very least the British government should speak out about the worsening situation in Swaziland and express concern to the highest levels of its government. ACTSA is asking its supporters to email Foreign secretary William Hague and echo these concerns.
‘You can take action on the ACTSA website.’