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Solidarity with democracy defenders in Eswatini


Over sixty civil society organisations write an open letter expressing concern over the current situation in Eswatini

To the Government of Eswatini and the international community:

We, the undersigned 69 civil society organisations, are deeply concerned about the eruption of state violence in Eswatini. We stand in solidarity with the people of Eswatini in condemning the government’s violent repression of mass protests demanding democracy and economic justice.

We support the UN Human Rights Commissioner’s call urging the authorities to fully adhere to human rights principles and reminding them that peaceful protests are protected under international human rights law. We call on the Government of Eswatini to immediately cease its brutal crackdown against civilians, restore and maintain internet access, and engage in inclusive dialogue with pro-democracy groups and politicians.

We call on the international community, including the United Nations, African Union, Southern African Development Community, and individual governments, to demand that the Government of Eswatini respect human rights, allow a thorough, independent investigation of who authorised violence against protesters, including shoot to kill orders, and support a peaceful transition to a democratic form of government.

Reports out of Eswatini indicate that, since late June, the army and police forces have killed dozens of unarmed civilians and injured around 1,000 people, including by shooting indiscriminately at and wounding protesters. The government has reportedly imprisoned hundreds of people, many of them young people, and shut down internet access across the country for several weeks, which Amnesty International calls “a brazen violation of the rights to freedom of expression and information.” Reports further indicate that security forces have sought to intimidate human rights defenders and activists with unlawful surveillance, imposed a curfew, and restricted public gatherings and petition deliveries to the government. This political crisis caused by state-sponsored violence risks creating a humanitarian crisis, as hospitals struggle to treat the influx of people injured by security forces, food and fuel supplies become limited, and people’s movement and ability to conduct basic commerce is restricted.

Specifically, we lend our support to the demands of civil society organisations, political organisations, and people’s movements within Eswatini calling for a long-term resolution to the current political crisis through an inclusive political dialogue, the total unbanning of political parties, a transitional authority, new democratic Constitution, and a multiparty democratic dispensation.

In the immediate term, we join democracy defenders in Eswatini in the following demands, calling for action from the Government of Eswatini to cease violence, restore and maintain communications services, and provide urgently needed humanitarian support:

  • The immediate cessation of the killing of civilians and the return of the army to the barracks;
  • The immediate restoration of civic services such as the rapid issuing of death certificates for those killed in the past days;
  • Mandatory independent pathologists to conduct post-mortems on the deceased;
  • Urgent humanitarian support to the affected families, workers and citizens who need basic necessities such as food, sanitary towels, baby food, etc.
  • The provision of direct financial support to resuscitate affected small and medium enterprises;
  • The full and permanent restoration of internet and communication services and peoples' right to freedom of expression; and
  • The urgent availability of vaccines to all emaSwati and the end of unnecessary lockdowns.

As the Government of Eswatini, Africa’s only remaining absolute monarchy, violates the human rights of residents, suppresses freedom of speech and assembly, and jails young people for demanding a brighter future, the international community cannot remain silent. We call on partners in international civil society, regional governmental bodies, and diplomats to join us in amplifying the demands of the Eswatini people and seeking the protection of people’s human rights.


  • AbibiNsroma Foundation
  • Africa Coal Network
  • Africa Institute for Energy Governance
  • African Climate Reality Project
  • Andy Gheorghiu Consulting
  • Aotearoa New Zealand Human Rights Foundation
  • Center for International Environmental Law
  • Centre for Applied Legal Studies, University of Witwatersrand
  • Centre for Citizens for Citizens Conserving (CECIC)
  • Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC)
  • Clean Energy Action Climate Action Network International
  • Corporate Accountability And Public Participation Africa (CAPPA)
  • DITSHWANELO - The Botswana Centre for Human Rights Earth Ethics, Inc.
  • Earthlife Africa
  • Earthworks
  • Economic and Social Justice Trust
  • Environment Governance Institute
  • ETC Group
  • Empower our Future, Colorado
  • Fair Finance International
  • Food and Water Watch, USA
  • Foundation for Environmental Management and Campaign Against Poverty (FEMAPO)
  • Fridays For Future
  • Fridays For Future Czech
  • Fridays For Future Digital
  • Fridays For Future MAPA
  • Fridays For Future Sweden
  • Fridays For Future Windhoek
  • Friends of the Earth Africa
  • Friends of the Earth USA
  • Fundación Quantum
  • The Gaia Foundation
  • GASP - Grand(m)others Act to Save the Planet
  • Generation Zero
  • Global Initiative for Food Security and Ecosystem Preservation (GIFSEP)
  • GoBio Waste Management and Renewable Energy
  • GPAN
  • groundWork
  • Health of Mother Earth Foundation
  • The Human Rights Institute of South Africa (HURISA)
  • Institute for Ecology and Natural Resources Africa
  • Institute for Policy Studies Climate Policy Program
  • International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH)
  • Jeunes Verts Togo
  • Justiça Ambiental JA! - Friends of the Earth Mozambique
  • KAIROS Canadian Ecumenical Justice Initiatives
  • Keep a Cool World
  • Lekeh Development Foundation
  • Oil Change International
  • Oilwatch Africa
  • People's Justice Council
  • Power Shift Africa
  • Rainforest Action Network
  • South Durban Community Environmental Alliance
  • Southern Africa Human Rights Defenders Network
  • Southern Africa Litigation Centre
  • The United Church of Canada - Church in Mission
  • Urgewald
  • We the People
  • WoMin African Alliance
  • Youth Advocates for Climate Action, Philippines
  • Youth For Climate, Turkey
  • Youth for Environment and Sustainable Development (YSD)
  • Youth for Green Communities
  • 350 Ghana Reducing Our Carbon (350G-ROC)