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Eswatini human rights lawyer assassinated in front of family

Human rights lawyer critical of Africa’s sole remaining absolute monarch Thulani Maseko was shot and killed by unknown gunmen on Saturday night, January 21, 2022. According to AFP, Maseko was killed by two bullets that went through a window of his house while he was with his family. The assassination occurred in Luhleko, around 50 kilometers from the capital of Eswatini, Mbabane. There are no further details about the crime, as Maseko’s family is in great mourning and does not want to talk to the media. According to News Day, the government issued a statement saying, “[His] demise is a loss to the nation, and his footprints as a human rights lawyer are there as proof of his contributions to the country. He will surely be missed.” Government spokesman Alpheous Nxumalo claims security forces are searching for the assassins and will not rest until they are caught. However, according to the International Federation for Human Rights, Maseko’s assassination “came a few hours after King Mswati had issued ‘stern warnings’ to those calling for democratic reforms in the country, and that his hired mercenaries would deal with them.” According to AFP, Maseko’s death occurred hours after the Mswati threatened activists opposed to his absolute monarchy, saying, “people should not shed tears and complain about mercenaries killing them. These people started the violence first but when the state institutes a crackdown on them for their actions, they make a lot of noise blaming King Mswati for bringing in mercenaries.” As reported by AFP, last week, the Swaziland Solidarity Network accused the king of hiring white Afrikaner mercenaries from neighboring South Africa to help eSwatini’s security forces crack down on his opponents. According to AP, Maseko was representing two people charged with committing crimes during demonstrations against the monarchy in 2021. The international community is calling for an independent investigation by the Southern African Development Community and the African Union.

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