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THE Communist Party of Swaziland called today for a united struggle against the government as students were shot at and arrested by troops deployed across the southern African country.
The party said the actions showed that the “regime has now been pushed to a corner” by the democracy movement and urged all progressive forces to join the fight.
Authorities have cracked down hard on participants in protests initiated by the Swaziland National Union of Students as part of the broader Democracy Now campaign.
“Unity between teachers and students is crucial in the final push for the overthrow of the ruling autocracy, for the attainment of democracy,” the communists said.
Schools and classrooms have been raided by security forces, with students attacked while protesting in defence of their right to education.
On Monday, at least 10 students were arrested and allegedly tortured by security forces while in custody.
One of the students dismissed claims that they were responsible for inciting the protests, saying that they acted independently as their grievances had been continuously ignored.
“It is a pity that, instead of resolving our issues, we are beaten, shot and arrested by police. It was the case even today, as we had to escape as police were shooting us,” the student said.
Police stormed William Pitcher College in Manzini on Monday, firing live bullets and tear gas at students.
The education facility has been the centre of democracy protests.
Last month, soldiers entered the college campus firing tear gas into students’ rooms and inflicting beatings that left many with broken limbs.
But student council president Bheka Mabuza warned the college principal, who called the police, that the students would not be deterred.
“She should know that there is no amount of intimidation that will ever silence the students unless their demands are settled,” the student representative said.
The action continued today, with students demanding the release of their peers and all other political prisoners, along with the restoration of democracy.
There is growing unrest in Swaziland, which started in June with democracy marches and rallies in major towns and cities.
Largely youth-led, the protests called for an end to a ban on political parties that has been in place since 1973 and for serious democratic reforms in the country, which is Africa’s last absolute monarchy.
But government forces have responded with violence. Soldiers acting on shoot-to-kill orders have targeted peaceful protesters, including students and other young people, killing at least 70 since protests broke out in June.
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