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By Peter Kenworthy, Afrika Contact's Swaziland group
Despite the heavy-handed approach of the Swazi police and security forces, in detaining, beating up, teargassing, and shooting at peaceful pro-democracy demonstrators in Swaziland today, and the unconfirmed rumours of the killing of several demonstrators circulating on Twitter and Facebook, the organizers say they will not be intimidated.
“I will not be intimidated by these bullish antics of the government. Bashing me only strengthens my resolve in the role that I play in the democratic movement in Swaziland,” said Mary Pais Da Silva, Swaziland Democracy Campaign spokesperson.
She had been punched and slapped in the face by police officers, who barged into the room where she was in the middle of a live interview with a South African radio station and taken for questioning, where she was insulted and threatened.
Union leaders, most of whom had been detained for hours during the morning and afternoon, also declared their intent to carry on the protests, according to Free African Media reporter Manqoba Nxumalo.
The fate of other detainees, particularly the four members of the democratic movement detained Sunday evening and held incommunicado ever since, is as of yet unknown, according to several sources. “All union leaders have been released. We are not sure about other comrades yet,” Swaziland Solidarity Network spokesperson Lucky Lukhele stated Tuesday evening.
What is certain, however, is that the extensive news coverage of the brutal initial crushing of the Swazi uprising ensures that Swaziland’s democratic movement will have the sympathy of the world in days to come, regardless of the inaction of world leaders in intervening on their behalf so far.
A statement from PUDEMO, Swaziland’s main banned opposition party, issued late Tuesday evening summed this up. “PUDEMO salutes the workers and the people of Swaziland for standing up to the hostile regime and press through with their demands. We also salute our international allies for their undying show of solidarity to the struggling masses of Swaziland.”