Swazi political prisoner nominated for Irish human rights award

King Mswati III of Swaziland

President of the Swaziland National Union of Students (SNUS), Maxwell Dlamini, has been nominated for the 2012 Front Line Defenders Award for Human Rights Defenders at Risk. The award is presented by Front Line, an Irish-based human rights organisation founded by former director of the Irish Section of Amnesty International, Mary Lawlor, and is given to “human rights defenders who, through non-violent work, are courageously making an outstanding contribution to the promotion and protection of the human rights of others, often at great personal risk to themselves.” Maxwell Dlamini was detained, tortured and forced to sign a confession by members of Swaziland’s police and security forces during the so-called April 12 Swazi Uprising, a peaceful protest inspired by the Arab Spring that was brutally clamped down upon by Swazi police and security forces. He is currently on trial for allegedly having been in possession of explosives and remanded and the infamous Manzini Remand Centre. Several representatives of Swaziland’s democratic movement have called the allegations against Maxwell Dlamini absurd, and an international campaign has demanded his unconditional release.

Maxwell is a threat to the undemocratic Swazi regime precisely because “he is a strong and a brave young leader who stands up and defends human rights,” says Dumezweni Dlamini from the Foundation for Socio-Economic Justice, a partner organisation of Maxwell’s SNUS. “This is why he has been put behind bars.” “But there cannot be a better recipient [of the award] than this rare gem of a new generation of activists for the liberation of Swaziland,” says Wandile Dludlu from the Swaziland United Democratic Front. “Maxwell has been at the service of the youth in an oppressive dangerous political environment and has led the students in several campaigns of peaceful protests against unjust government policy. We are proud to be associated with SNUS, who has been producing leaders of a special pedigree like Maxwell. They have made an indelible mark in the history of our struggle for democracy, human rights and good governance.”

The Front Line Defenders Award is presented annually. The winner and his or her organisation is awarded with a cash prize of €15,000. Last years award, presented by former Irish Prime Minister Mary Robinson, was given to the Joint Mobile Group of the Russian Federation “for their outstanding work investigating torture, killings and disappearances in Chechnya.”

Read more: http://freemaxwelldlamini.wordpress.com/

 

[Peter Kenworthy is a Master of Social Science in International Development Studies and is a volunteer at Danish NGO Africa Contact]

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