Maxwell Dlamini, President of the Swaziland National Union of Students (SNUS), has been nominated for the 2013 Student Peace Prize, an award given every other year on behalf of Norwegian students to fellow students around the world who have ‘done important work to promote peace, democracy or human rights.’
The Student Peace Prize attempts to shed light on and increase recognition of the work of the students who are given the award. “Where other peace prizes that go to established personalities light up a lit room,” the website of the Student Peace Prize states, “the Student Peace Prize puts a spotlight on young persons that still work in the dark.”
Maxwell Dlamini has been nominated by Danish solidarity organisation Africa Contact, his nomination being further endorsed by the Free Maxwell Dlamini Campaign, the Swaziland United Democratic Front (SUDF), the Swaziland National Union of Students (SNUS), the All Africa Students Union (AASU), the student representative body at the University of Marburg and the Free Education Movement Marburg.
The reason given for Maxwell’s nomination, according to the letter Africa Contact sent to the Student Peace Prize Secretariat in Norway, was that he had “done important work to promote peace, democracy or human rights,” because his “struggle for free education, recognition of students’ rights, democracy and human rights in Swaziland does not receive the attention and recognition that it ought to,” and “because he has selflessly put aside any fear for his own safety in his and his fellow students’ struggle.”
The letter pointed specifically to the impact of Maxwell Dlamini and SNUS on the February 2010 student boycott and demonstrations in demand of free education in Swaziland, and on the April 12 Uprising in 2011 – one of the largest ever protests for democracy and socio-economic justice in Swaziland’s history. Swaziland is a corrupt and undemocratic absolute monarchy on the verge of economical collapse.
Additionally, the nomination recognised Maxwell’s bravery in the face of the Swazi regime’s brutal clamp down on all opposition to its rule. “Maxwell has been detained, threatened, beaten and tortured on several occasions by members of Swaziland’s police and security forces,” the letter said.
“He is presently languishing in prison, after having been detained, tortured, and forced to sign a confession to being in possession of explosives prior to the so-called April 12 Swazi Uprising.” Several prominent members of Swaziland’s democratic movement have referred to these allegations as “ridiculous”.
The winner of the 2013 Student Peace Prize will be announced in the autumn of 2013, the selection being administered by a committee of Norwegian students’ representatives and a group of experts, including two members of the Norwegian parliament, a journalist employed at the Norwegian Broadcasting Corporation, NRK, and a former chairwoman of the Norwegian national film institute. The prize has previously been awarded to students and student organizations from Burma, East Timor, Zimbabwe, Colombia and Western Sahara