The US State Department reporting on human rights in Swaziland in 2011 said, ‘The three main human rights abuses were police use of excessive force, including use of torture and beatings; a breakdown of the judiciary system and judicial independence; and discrimination and abuse of women and children.
‘Other significant human rights problems included extrajudicial killings by security forces; arbitrary arrests and lengthy pretrial detention; arbitrary interference with privacy and home; restrictions on freedom of speech, assembly, and association; prohibitions on political activity and harassment of political activists; trafficking in persons; societal discrimination against members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community; harassment of labor leaders; restrictions on worker rights; child labor; and mob violence.’
Clearly, there is lot of work for democracy activists to do. But, there is a growing campaign inside Swaziland for democracy and this is getting noticed on an international scale. As each month passes it becomes more difficult for the king and his ‘traditionalist’ supporters in the kingdom to maintain the fiction that Swaziland is free.
Social media will play a large part in getting the message for freedom out. One of these is Swazi Media Commentary which was launched in 2007 and is one of the longest running blog or social media sites supporting the campaign for democracy in Swaziland.
Swaziland: Striving For Freedom (available on scribd dot com) is the first volume of information, commentary and analysis on human rights taken from articles first published on the Swazi Media Commentary blogsite in 2013. Each month throughout the coming year a digest of articles will be published bringing together in one place material that is rarely found elsewhere.
In this first volume you can read about how the Swazi state wants to prosecute for treason those campaigners who advocate a boycott of the non-democratic national election (the death penalty is available for those convicted); how traditionalists want to continue forcing children into marriages (something that is called paedophilia in civilised countries) and how, because King Mswati has ruined the kingdom’s economy, one in ten of his subjects will go hungry this year.
Also included are reports on attacks by the state on women who wish to wear mini-skirts (they face jail time under a law made in 1889); how a pregnant woman was sent to prison because her mother thought she needed to be punished, although she had committed no crime, and how police routinely use torture.
This month there is also an extensive look at press standards in Swaziland and how newspapers deliberately lie to their readers in pursuit of profits.