8 June 2011
PRESS RELEASE: Start of the Free Maxwell Dlamini Campaign
We have had a great response to the Free Maxwell Dlamini campaign - a campaign that seeks to help secure the release of political prisoner and Swazi student leader Maxwell Dlamini - in its first couple of days.
Nearly a hundred e-mails, demanding the release of Maxwell, have been sent to the Swazi regime in the first 24 hours. There have been several requests for a word-file version of the campaign that can be printed and sent by mail from the approx. 95% of Swazis who do not have access to the Internet. Over 500 people accessed our website in the first day. And people from all over the world – including Basque lawyers, Norwegian youths, Namibian and Danish NGO’s, and South African University employees – have wished to publicly support the campaign.
The message that we sent out on June 6, urging people and organisations to participate in and support the campaign to free Maxwell, has also been distributed high and wide all over the Internet.
President of the Swaziland National Union of Students, Maxwell Dlamini, has been detained, tortured, and forced by Swaziland’s regime to sign a confession that says he was in possession of explosives during the April 12 Swazi Uprising - a movement inspired by similar uprisings in North Africa and The Middle East.
Maxwell has also been denied the right to sit his exams at the university of Swaziland where he is a student, and the Swazi authorities have done their utmost to obstruct their lawyer, Mandla Mkhwanazi.
We – The Free Maxwell Dlamini Campaign, together with the people and organisations that support the campaign - demand that Maxwell Dlamini is released unconditionally and that any and all wrongdoings committed by Swaziland’s police forces and security forces towards Maxwell Dlamini and other members of Swaziland’s democratic movement are investigated, and that any perpetrators are brought before a court of law.
The charges against Maxwell
The charges against Maxwell Dlamini of being in possession of explosives, and thus contravening Sections 8 and 9 of Swaziland’s Explosives Act 4 of 1961, have been described as preposterous by several members of the democratic movement in Swaziland, as well as by unions and solidarity organisations around the world, and Amnesty International has urged Swaziland to ensure his, and fellow accused Musa Ngubeni’s, safety.
The explosives that the police claim Maxwell was in possession of were allegedly to have been used during the peaceful mass demonstrations for multi-party democracy and socio-economic justice between April 12 and April 14 that were brutally crushed by Swazi police and security forces. If convicted, Maxwell Dlamini faces up to five years in prison.
Maxwell Dlamini appeared in court in Manzini, Swaziland, on April 15.
According to Vincent Ncongwane, Secretary General of the Swaziland Federation of Labour, the charges are an attempt to “cover up for the heavy-handedness the police applied against innocent citizens” during the April uprising.
Other similar politically motivated cases have also shown that the charges against Maxwell Dlamini are in all probability fabricated. One of the more prominent and well-documented political cases in Swaziland was against PUDEMO President Mario Masuku in 2009. Mario Masuku was imprisoned for 340 days awaiting trial on charges of terrorism, but when he was finally brought before a judge, the case was laughed out of court in a matter of hours. The case was apparently too ridiculous, even for a Swazi court.
Peter Kenworthy, Campaign Coordinator of the Free Maxwell Dlamini Campaign
Read more about Maxwell Dlamini: http://freemaxwelldlamini.wordpress.com/links/
Read more about torture committed by Swazi police: http://freemaxwelldlamini.wordpress.com/torture/
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