Swazi Protests Put on Hold After Brutal Crackdown

By Miriam Krule

On Tuesday, Swazi police fired rubber bullets and arrested activists protesting the country's absolute monarchy. The day marked the 38th anniversary of the banning of political parties in Swaziland, a country that has been widely criticized for massive human rights abuses and has one of the highest rates of AIDS in the world. The protests were planned for three consecutive days, but unions called off today's mass protest against Swazi King Mswati III in order to re-strategize after the government security forces arrested most of their leadership.

An activist and organiser on the ground, who asked to remain anonymous, told Al Jazeera that "more than five protesters have been arrested for attempting to restart the intermittent protests currently going on in the centre of Manzini".

"Protesters are gathered in a large crowd in the middle of the bus rank and are refusing to bow down to police demands that they disperse.

The activist said a curfew had been declared in Manzini from 6pm. "All police officers have been deployed in Manzini, where the action is concentrated," he said.

Swazi union leaders and pro-democracy activists are divided as to how to proceed after security forces on Tuesday fired tear gas and water cannons, beat people with batons and arrested activists.

Sibongile Mazibuko, president of the Swaziland National Association of Teachers, said earlier on Wednesday that teachers had called off protests for security reasons, as police had jailed teachers for treason and beaten those gathered at the headquarters on Tuesday.

Read the full story at Al Jazeera.

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http://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2011/04/swazi-protests-put-on-hold-after-brutal-crackdown/237268/