Amnesty Urges Eswatini’s Defiant Monarch to Stop Crushing Dissent

Amnesty International has weighed in on the protests rocking the African kingdom of Eswatini, calling on King Mswati III to “to stop crushing dissent.

The rights group spoke a day before two lawmakers, Mduduzi Bacede Mabuza and Mthandeni Dube, who were arrested during protests in July, go on trial. They were charged under the Suppression of Terrorism Act and for contravening Covid-19 regulations.

Amnesty’s director for East and Southern Africa, Deprose Muchena said authorities should drop the trumped-up charges since the duo were exercising their freedom of expression and assembly.

He also criticized the government for its brutal crackdown on pro-democracy demonstrations, including those by pupils, and for closing schools and shutting down the internet, saying this was a clear contravention of human rights.

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According to Muchena, authorities must urgently open dialogue with protesters and stop crushing dissents.

Deprose Muchena, Amnesty International’s director for the Southern Africa region speaks at a news conference held by the organisation in Johannesburg to highlight human rights abuse.

Pressure has been mounting on Africa’s last absolute monarch to institute democratic reforms after extended protests and strikes, which started in June and flared again in recent days.

According to Amnesty, more than 80 people have been killed by security forces since May and many arrested for their involvement in demonstrations but to date the king remains undeterred, referring to pro-democracy protesters in a speech as drunkards.

Mswati has been criticized for leading a decadent lifestyle that is in stark contrast to the poverty experienced by much of the population in Eswatini, a landlocked country long known as Swaziland, bordered by Mozambique and South Africa.

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Dissent is almost impossible as political parties have been banned since 1973.

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