Maxwell Dlamini, Secretary General of the Swaziland Youth Congress was detained last week and has been charged with sedition (actions that are deemed to tend toward insurrection against the government).
Maxwell’s arrest follows a number of events over recent years in which student unionists in Swaziland have been unable to carry out their legitimate activities without fear of arrest or harassment by the Swazi government.
When Maxwell was initially arrested, strangely enough, it was the week of my first NUS election back in 2011 and the day after my election, I was travelling out there to see old friends and complete my dissertation. I ended up at his trial and was shocked at the number of times they point-blank refused to charge him. He was detained without trial for months and eventually released on condition of the most expensive bail in Swazi history.
Swaziland in particular holds a special place in my heart – I spent a year there back in the third year of my degree to carry out research for my dissertation and my parents married out there too.
Spending a year in a place like Swaziland was the biggest honour and it is still a place I miss. I believe it has a bright future ahead, but with the continued crackdowns, I fear for its future. The UK government has to do more – imagine a society where political organisations are banned? And a state of emergency in place for over 40 years? And when the Swazi nation gave asylum to so many fleeing apartheid.
The re-arrest of Maxwell, the outgoing president of the Swazi NUS for organising “an elections meeting” should rightly make us angry.
Help LCID show solidarity today with Maxwell and the people of Swaziland, because until they have the right to organise freely – I fear for the future of this tiny but inspiring nation.
Help the campaign here http://www.nus.org.uk/freemaxwell
Written by Danielle Grufferty, Student Officer at LCID