50 arrested ahead of Swaziland democracy protests

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

King Mswati III has been criticised for having thirteen wives.
Image: Amada44.

Around 50 people have been arrested ahead of a planned human rights protest in Swaziland. The protest had been planned against the monarchy of Swaziland to call attention to the country's alleged lack of human rights. Many of those arrested have been released but several people remain in custody.

The King of Swaziland, Mswati III, has come under pressure for living in luxury with his thirteen wives while many Swazi people are on the poverty line. He has also faced criticism for having a high number of sexual partners, when 26% of 15 to 49 year olds are HIV positive.

Several South African trade unionists were included in the protesters arrested. A spokesman for Cosatu, the South African trade union federation, said that two of the unionists had not been released and their current whereabouts are unknown.

Human rights group Amnesty International has commented on the events saying that, "The arbitrary arrest of these political activists, lawyers, trade unionists and journalists is nothing short of police harassment and intimidation."

Swaziland is the last country in Africa to hold an absolute monarchy.