Swaziland absolute monarchy


By Geraldine Donnelly from Scotland:

Swaziland: Home of the forgotten despot

Monday 05 December 2011

If you were asked what you knew about Swaziland, what would be your response? What do you know about this small country of less than a million people located between Mozambique and South Africa?

As the Scottish Trades Union Congress delegate on a recent ACTSA visit to southern Africa, I had little knowledge of Swaziland.

What I saw in this beautiful country shocked and saddened me. Seventeen years after the overthrow of apartheid, another people in southern Africa are suffering under a brutal tyranny, relatively unnoticed by the world.

Swaziland is an absolute monarchy that has been ruled by King Mswati since 1986.

The Forbes Rich List named him in the top 15 of the world’s richest royals, with a personal fortune that is in excess of $100 million, enabling him to provide palaces and new BMWs for his 14 wives.

Three-quarters of the country’s land is effectively owned by the king and administered by the local chiefs. With the government handpicked, the parliament has increased the king’s budget by 60 per cent in the last two years.

According to the US government about “40 per cent of the government’s workforce is allocated to security.”

In stark contrast two-thirds of the people survive on less than $1.25 a day.

Swaziland has the world’s highest HIV rate and half the population dies before 40.

Perhaps the saddest statistic is that one in 12 of all Swazi are orphaned children.

This is compounded by the growing economic crisis. The government is threatening to cut 7,000 jobs, pushing thousands deeper into poverty, while spending increases on the king and his friends.

The bedfellow of this poverty is political tyranny. Swaziland has the unenviable achievement of having a worse record on political rights than Zimbabwe.

Political parties are banned and it has endured a state of emergency since 1973.

Opponents of the regime are often arrested, tortured or even murdered as the main opposition is declared “terrorist” under the repressive Suppression of Terrorism Act.

Swazi NUS president Maxwell Dlamini and Musa Ngebuni of the Swaziland Youth Congress (SWAYOCO) are still behind bars awaiting trial following their arrest before protests held in April.

Women are subjected to horrendous levels of gender-based violence.

A 2009 survey revealed that almost a third of women and girls aged 13 to 24 had experienced sexual violence before their 18th birthday.

The law provides no protection for women from domestic violence or rape by their husbands.

The laws governing marriage ensure that women are treated as second-class citizens. Married women are denied the right to own property and widows are unable to inherit property if they are forced from their homes by their husband’s relatives.

However, the people of Swaziland have continued to struggle for democracy.

The trade unions, despite their leaders being regularly arrested and harassed, have held regular strikes and protests.

Women and students have formed groups to campaign for democracy and rights and an underground pro-democracy party Pudemo was formed in 1983.

Despite constant harassment, including the arrest of one leader, Sipho Jele, who died in custody in May 2010 imprisoned for wearing a protest T-shirt, they have grown in strength.

In 2008 King Mswati held lavish celebrations costing millions of dollars to mark his 40th birthday and 40 years of independence, but the people of Swaziland responded by organising the country’s biggest pro-democracy protests with 10,000 crowding the streets of the Manzini and reassembling in the capital Mbabane the next day.

The pro-democracy movement in Swaziland has called for smart sanctions, including the denial of international travel for the royal family and their lackeys, a ban on investment in companies controlled by the regime and an embargo on military sales to Swaziland.

Until now the devastating situation in Swaziland has largely gone unnoticed by the international community, but gradually more and more voices across the world are beginning to speak out.

Swaziland needs our solidarity now. The voices of the Swazi people’s struggle must be heard as Swaziland is still the land of the forgotten despot.

While there we listened, humbled, as student leaders told us of the daily danger of death or imprisonment, but they left us in no doubt that they will continue to fight until Swaziland is free.

The international labour movement must support them in their continuing struggle for political and economic freedom.

In solidarity we must advance to strengthen the trade union and pro-democracy movements building upon partnerships and projects that have raised the profile and capacity-building of trade unions and civil society in Swaziland to bring about change.

Action for Southern Africa, the successor organisation to the British Anti-Apartheid Movement, is one of the few organisations campaigning for democracy and rights in solidarity with the people of Swaziland. If you want to get involved in supporting the fight for democracy in Swaziland contact ACTSA www.actsa.org.

Dutch royal family anti-Semitism?

This video says about itself:

Amsterdam “The City That Remembers”

22 May 2013

This DVD is digitally converted from the original broadcast tape master of a 30 minute documentary which I produced in Holland in 1997. This is a very personal project with one simple objective: to pass along to future generations awareness of the horrors of Nazi Germany’s systematic genocide in WWII … knowledge so easily lost and forgotten unless we keep it alive. After you have viewed this DVD, I hope you will place it in a school, library, church, synagogue, or other permanent place where it will be shown and viewed again and again for decades to come.

The idea for producing this documentary grew from my many trips to Amsterdam and the urging from a close friend there, Harry Moinat, that I interview Jewish survivors of the Dutch Holocaust before they all died. The more I learned the more I had to tell inspiring Amsterdam’s story of resistance and determination.

Harry introduced me to a contemporary of Anne Frank, Jaap van Velzen, who was just 12 years old when he escaped from his Nazi captors by brazenly slipping away from a kindergarten where he and other children were being held awaiting shipment to the death camps. After his escape he hid in the south of the Netherlands till war’s end. He was the only member of his family to survive. Jaap later became a successful businessman and noted scholar regarding the Dutch Holocaust.

His childhood recollections are woven into this portrait of the systematic roundup of Jews, gypsies, homosexuals and the mentally impaired and their shipment out of Amsterdam using the city’s own streetcars to deliver them at night to waiting Nazi freight cars at Amsterdam’s central train station. From there they were shipped to Westerbork concentration camp before being sent on to their deaths at Auschwitz and other German death camps.

I wrote, shot, edited and narrated this documentary to share with you an understanding of why Amsterdam is truly “The City That Remembers.”

Larry M. Ray

Translated from the Nieuw Israelitisch Weekblad (NIW) in the Netherlands:

June 26, 2015

Press Release: Jewish students removed in 1951 from the princesses’ school classes

With knowledge of Queen Juliana in 1951, Jewish students were preventively removed from classes at the Nieuwe Baarnsche School where the princesses Margriet and Irene were placed. This emerges from an article by historian Bart Wallet in the Nieuw Israelitisch Weekblad published today.

The initiative to remove Jewish students came from “a certain circle of [elite] Baarn town residents’, with the knowledge of Queen Juliana. The parents of the removed Jewish students approached the royal court. After that, Juliana in response stated that “the royal dynasty of Orange are not anti-Semitic.” Ultimately, the issue disappeared under the carpet.

The article was written by prominent historian Bart Wallet. He is research leader in religious history at the Vrije Universiteit in Amsterdam. He got exclusive access to archives, including the Royal Archives, the archives of the Dutch Jewish Congregation and various private archives.

NIW editor Maurice Swirc declares: “This is a potentially explosive history, especially since it took place six years after the Shoah. Further research will have to establish the exact chain of events. But for Jewish people in the Netherlands the attitude of Juliana – at least – causes questioning.”

The Jewish community has always been very pro-royal dynasty. Until today in the synagogue services there are standard prayers for the royal family.

Questions by the NIW to the Nieuwe Baarnsche School – to which the article had been made available beforehand – did not get any answers.

Badger killing and British Prince Charles

This is called Video of Badgers, UK wild badgers at the sett (Meles meles).

From Lion Aid:

Prince Charles versus Badgers

15 May 2015

After years of legal battles, the contents of Prince Charles’ letter to various UK government ministers have now finally seen the light of day.

Not very exciting to say the least. So why the years of legal battles? That could be another issue.

But meanwhile, was Prince Charles just an “opinionated meddler or an informed spokesman” as the press has called him? There is certainly no doubt that Prince Charles has immediate access to the highest levels of government denied the average person. The media was certainly exercised by this level of preferred treatment.

One of his letters dealt with the issue of badgers and their role in bovine tuberculosis in UK cattle. He said badgers should be culled. The Labour government at the time took no action, but the current Conservative government enthusiastically embarked on what Prince Charles proposed.

Now here comes the rub. Badgers are a Protected Species in the UK. And Prince Charles is the President of WWF-UK. Conservation of endangered and protected species like badgers in the UK should start with him. Yet here is Prince Charles pushing to cull badgers, whose role in the overall epizootiology of tuberculosis still needs much further investigation, and there is emerging evidence based on advanced techniques that their role might be minimal. In fact, infected cows might be spreading tuberculosis to badgers. Should a retraction now be in order, especially since Prince Charles went so far as to label those pushing for badger conservation as “intellectually dishonest”?

Meanwhile, Prince Charles in another letter expressed concern about the survival of albatrosses due to commercial overfishing of their prey?


More Iraq war, more badger killing, British Prince Charles urged Tony Blair

Tony Blair's bloody Iraq war, cartoon

From daily The Guardian in Britain:

Prince Charles ‘black spider’ memos reveal lobbying of Tony Blair

Publication of royal’s letters following freedom of information battle reveals correspondence with PM on helicopters, farming and complementary medicine

Read the letters in full

A cache of secret memos sent by Prince Charles to senior UK ministers has finally been published, following a 10-year freedom of information battle between the Guardian and the government. The letters reveal that Charles lobbied ministers, including the former prime minister Tony Blair, on a wide range of issues, including agriculture, the armed forces, architecture and homeopathy. …

The letters, published at 4pm on Wednesday, reveal how Charles lobbied Tony Blair when he was prime minister to replace Lynx military helicopters. Charles complained: “I fear this one more example of our armed forces being asked to do an extremely challenging job [the Iraq war] without the necessary resources.” …

The relationship between Charles and the prime minister was so close that Blair even asked Charles directly what he wanted him to do about encouraging the use of herbal medicines in the UK, which some scientists believe do not work. Charles complained that an EU directive was having a “deleterious effect on the complementary medicine sector by effectively outlawing the use of certain herbal extracts”.

He wrote: “You rightly asked me what could be done about it,” and said he would ask an aide at his complementary health charity to produce “a detailed briefing … so that your advisers can look at it”. Blair replied: “We can do quite a lot here … we will be consulting with your contacts and others on the best way to do this – we simply cannot have burdensome regulation here.”

This video says about itself:

Counting young badgers in province Drenthe (Holland)

June 4 2013: there are ten badgers on this sett: female with three youngsters, female with four youngsters and a very big male.

The Guardian article continues:

In another letter to Blair, Charles attacked the government’s proposed programme for tackling bovine tuberculosis, warning: “There is no evidence that this will include a commitment to deal with the badger problem in the immediate future.” …

In one stridently expressed and explicit policy demand, he said: “I urge you to look again at introducing a proper cull of badgers where it is necessary. I for one cannot understand how the ‘badger lobby’ seem to mind not at all about the slaughter of thousands of expensive cattle, and yet object to a managed cull of an overpopulation of badgers. To me this is intellectually dishonest.”

Tony Blair resigns as Middle East peace envoy. Former British PM has written to UN chief to confirm resignation from job he took in 2007: here.

British Prince William’s sister-in-law eats whale meat

This video from Australia says about itself:

Swimming with Dwarf minke whales on board Eye to Eye Marine Encounters

From Wildlife Extra:

Pippa Middleton admits eating whale meat in newspaper column

Pippa Middleton has recieved criticism from conservationists across the world for eating whale meat on a trip to Norway, which she recounted in her column for the Daily Telegraph.

In the piece she said: ”We dined on smoked whale carpaccio (which tastes similar to smoked salmon but looks more like venison carpaccio).”

Despite strong international pressure and commercial whaling being banned since 1986 Norway is still one of three countries (the other two are Japan, and Iceland) that still allows whaling and in 2014 had a record year when more than 700 were killed.

“This is really disappointing news, particularly as Pippa is so high-profile, and given how active her brother-in-law, William [Duke of Cambridge], is on speaking out against poaching and wildlife crime. Commercial whale hunting is banned, the UK government backs the ban and for good reason. Killing whales is cruel, there is no humane way to kill them and many are slaughtered using brutal harpoon grenades. Last season, 731 minke whales suffered an agonising death at the hand of Norwegian whalers.”

Pippa does not say what type whale meat she ate but the most likely one is minke, the second smallest baleen whale.

Philip Mansbridge, UK Director of IFAW, said: “It’s likely that Pippa Middleton wasn’t aware of the horrific suffering caused by commercial whaling nor the devastating damage that it causes to whale populations.  By eating whale meat, she is unwittingly setting a bad example that may encourage other tourists to do likewise. We would hope she acknowledges her mistake and will promote whale watching true to the slogan: meet us, don’t eat us.”

From Celebitchy.com:

“Pippa is not known for common sense or compassion, but it still beggars belief that anyone, let alone someone from a country like ours, where whale meat has long been banned, could be oblivious to the uproar over Norway’s slaughter of these gentle giants,” Elisa Allen, associate director of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals U.K., said Thursday in an exclusive statement to E! News. “Does she think or read? What’s next, a panda steak or an elephant canapé? These whales are harpooned and bled to death before they’re gutted. If Pippa is looking for a culinary experience, some of the best high-end vegan food—recently named by Forbes magazine as a top food trend—can be found in Norway, and it’s good for the heart, an organ Pippa seems to lack.”