Friday, February 12, 2010

Swaziland student arrested for belonging to union: official

IC Publication Report

Swaziland police detained a student leader after he was found with a union membership card while taking pictures of a protest march, a union official said on Friday.

Sicelo Vilane from Oxford College has been in custody since his arrest on Wednesday. He was arrested along with other student leaders while picketing over the government's refusal to recognize their union.

"His only crime was that he took pictures of police torturing and tormenting a student during the protest…he was taken to police headquarters in Manzini, where he was tortured," alleged Swaziland National Union of Students secretary Maxwell Dlamini.

Police spokesman Vusi Masuku denied torturing Vilane.

"He was arrested because he was found in possession of material which indicates that he belonged to illegal entities that are banned in this country under the terrorism act," Masuku said.

Political organizations and organized labour unions in the small kingdom are banned by law since 1973.

Government led by king Mswati III is known for cracking down on political activists and pro-democracy campaigners.

Since the protest, all tertiary institutions in the country have been closed.

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