Whilst we're all busy campaigning in the UK, it's all too easy to look inwards and forget to look out to see the battles the rest of the world is having to fight for their most basic freedoms. We are fighting for the very things all human's should be entitled to, whilst others are fighting for their and their children's lives. Please take a few moments to read this guest post written by my neighbour Colin McPherson about the situation in Swaziland and share it on your social networks, send it to the media, lobby your MP and remember both how incredibly privileged we are in the UK, and that to we have an obligation to our fellow people to work towards a world in which we all live with freedom, safety, care and compassion.
While the eyes of the world have been on the popular uprisings in the Middle East and North Africa, and the bloody events surrounding the post-election conflict in Ivory Coast have come to our attention, there are conflicts and struggles for democracy taking place elsewhere which need our urgent attention.
In Swaziland tomorrow (Tuesday 12th April), a day of uprising has been planned by activists, trade unionists and those seeking justice and freedom for one of Africa's most repressed - and most forgotten - peoples. The struggle for basic rights, an end to economic discrimination and access to the country's wealth will bring the people into direct conflict with the omnipotent King of Swaziland, who has already shown himself to be ready to use extreme force to prevent any unrest in his impoverished kingdom.
It is worth remembering that Swaziland is one of the world's poorest countries, which has suffered greatly from the HIV/Aids pandemic which swept through sub-Saharan Africa in the 1980s and 1990s. Life expectancy is amongst the lowest in the world, and while the monarch and his cronies enjoy unrivalled wealth and power, the people of this tiny country continue to be denied the basic rights which everyone in this country takes as read.
So what can you do? Well, as this is a former British colony, people here bear some moral responsibility for the system we left behind just 43 years ago. Our first priority should be to ensure that the UK government makes it clear to the Swazi authorities that it is monitoring the situation there and will hold to account anyone who uses force and violence to deny the people their right to protest for change.
Please write to your parliamentary representative, or directly to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in London, and request that the British government takes appropriate steps to protect innocent people.
Next, please put additional pressure on our politicians to lobby for change in Swaziland. The people there deserve to be heard and listened to and they deserve a chance in life.
Since my visit to Swaziland in 2008, I have become involved in helping individuals support themselves to try to make a better life for themselves and their families. I have received great assistance and support from people in this country and abroad who have aided my efforts to raise money and awareness. I should stress that none of my engagement with Swaziland or its people has been on a political level, and that none of the people I support are activists.
I hope you will take just a few minutes to become more informed of the situation in Swaziland and that you will take whatever action you can to protect the people of this wonderful little country.
With best wishes,
For more information, please read: http://www.thedailymaverick.co.za/article/2011-04-11-activists-arrested-as-swaziland-gears-up-for-12-april-uprising