Skip to content

Uprising in Swaziland brutally crushed


For just over a week now, protests have been going on against the autocratic Mswati III, king of Swaziland, Africa's last absolute monarchy. The security services in the country have fought back hard, with arrests and there are many testimonies of torture. “The situation is dangerous. People are being humiliated and tortured by state security agents”, says Thabo Masuku, Executive Director of IM's partner organization FSEJ.

The anger against Mswati has grown for several years. The king has acted cold-hearted to the demands for democratic reforms made during the protests. What also angers the people is the king’s use of the state treasury to live in abundance, while many of the 1.5 million inhabitants barely have food for the day.

King Mswati rules Swaziland at will. Political parties are banned, and the existing ministers are appointed by the king. Now a large number of organizations are demanding that a dialogue, led by the African Union, the UN or similar, be started between the king and the opposition. In a joint statement, the organizations demand, among other things, that the country should have a new constitution, with a separation of power, a justiciable Bill of Rights, equality before the law and gender parity.

The 53-year-old king denies that he is autocratic and does not apologize for his lifestyle where he and his 15 wives live in a number of state-funded palaces.

Now the king has introduced a curfew and turned off the internet, while the security service raids the homes of activists.

– The situation is very volative, and people are killed. The regime violates all human rights and should be put under pressure to open up the space for a political solution to the current situation, says Thabo Masuku.

The justice organization FSEJ, Foundation for Socio-Economic Justice, was founded in 2004 and has since the beginning been opposed by the king. IM’s supports a FSEJ program to strengthen democracy in the country.

IM’s Secretary General Martin Nihlgård is following developments in Swaziland with great concern.

– When people, not least young people, in Swaziland finally come together and demand democratic rights, they must be treated peacefully. If the country’s government can’t guarantee it, the outside world must react distinctly!

By: Malin Kihlström