Education International (EI) and the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) emphatically denounce the attacks and recent violence perpetrated by the police against teachers and other public sector workers in Eswatini. We strongly condemn the disproportionate use of force against peaceful protesters, which has caused in scores of injuries and the death of a student.
Teachers and public sector workers were attacked on 20 October 2021 in Mbabane, while they were on their way to deliver a petition to the Municipal Council of the capital city, appealing for decent working conditions, a salary review, and basic trade union rights.
The Swaziland Association of Teachers (SNAT) reported that the security forces fired teargas, stun grenades and live ammunitions. Two busses ferrying public workers to the peaceful gathering were also stopped by the police and their passengers shot at with live bullets. In total, at least 36 public workers were injured to varying degrees of severity. SNAT also denounced that a student, who was not part of the workers’ demonstration, was shot dead by a stray bullet.
“The citizens of Eswatini have the right to be heard. They want dignity, they want rights, they want democracy. Responding to their legitimate demands with live ammunition is a clear violation of human rights.”, stated David Edwards, Education International General Secretary.
Education International stands with the Swaziland Association of Teachers and all our union colleagues in Eswatini in their efforts to improve working conditions, restore open dialogue, promote policy reform and social justice, and the free exercise of freedoms of expression and association.
The Kingdom of Eswatini is a member of the International Labour Organisation, the African Union and the Southern African Development Community, whose constitutions and standards promote and protect human and trade union rights and basic freedoms on the continent.
The Eswatini government must ensure that basic human and trade union rights are recognized and respected. Education International calls on the Eswatini government to take immediate measures to investigate and prosecute the security forces who were responsible for shooting at civilians and to uphold civil and human rights for all.