“Now Burundi celebrated its 54thindependence anniversary on Friday, in a low key event attended by representatives of several African countries. The venue for this year’s celebrations was semi-deserted as the public failed to turn up due to heightened insecurity in some parts of the capital, Bujumbura. In Kampala, the celebrations went as planned. Isabella Tugume, spoke to the Burundian Ambassador to Uganda Jean Bosco Barege about the current situation in Burundi and the progress of the peace talks” (NBS TV Uganda, 2016)
NEW YORK, United States of America, May 25, 2016 – “Special Adviser Jamal Benomar is traveling to Bujumbura today following the conclusion of talks on Burundi that took place in Arusha, Tanzania.
The Special Adviser hopes that the talks in Arusha were a first step towards genuine and inclusive dialogue. He welcomed the meetings and stressed the undeniable challenge of starting a viable political process. He urged all of those involved to work diligently in order for that to happen as soon as possible.
Mr. Benomar has been consulting with various stakeholders who attended the talks and will continue to reach out to and consult with others who did not attend. During his visit to Arusha, he reiterated to former President Benjamin Mkapa that he and his team are ready to assist and support the facilitator in moving the process forward.”
“During these four days, we have had very fruitful consultations. At any moment there were no acrimonious interventions. All of you showed a high degree of civility, patriotism and a great desire to own the dialogue. It is evident that you are yearning for peace and a stop to killings and assassinations. I note that there is tremendous aversion to violence, targeted killings, and the realization that war is not a solution to the crisis. Some of you have expressed concerns about the economic decline obtaining in the country because of the crisis. I hope that during your stay here in Arusha, you were able to interact and exchange widely on issues of general concern. In the next two weeks, I will continue and complete the consultations with those who did not come during this session, but whom I feel might have positive contributions to make to the process. I will also consult with the Mediator in order to determine the way forward. Thereafter, I expect to convene a dialogue session possibly during the third week of June.” (Ikiriho News, 2016)
“One year on from the political violence that swept Burundi’s capital Bujumbura and spread across the country, new arrivals to refugee camps in neighbouring Tanzania denounce a litany of ongoing horrors at home. They say torture, disappearances, massacres of loved ones and neighbours and arrests on the border are rife” (United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, 2016).
“The inter Burundian dialogue that was scheduled to take place from May 2 to 6 in Arusha, Tanzania has been postponed. This was announced on Friday by the office of former Tanzanian president Benjamin Mkapa who is also the facilitator of the talks.”Following consultations between the facilitator in the Burundi dialogue, former Tanzanian President Benjamin William Mkapa and East African Community (EAC) Secretary General Liberat Mfumukeko, the resumption of the dialogue which was due on May 2-… READ MORE : http://www.africanews.com/2016/04/30/…” (Africa News, 2016).
“The Minister of Public Security Alain Guillaume BUNYONI has given a record about the situation of the security that prevailed the country for over the past three months. This record was delivered during the press conference held on this Tuesday 12th April 2016″ (Iwacu WEB TV, 2016).
Independent International Inquiry Needed
NEW YORK, United States of America, April 13, 2016 – The findings of a Burundian commission of inquiry into allegations of extrajudicial executions by members of the security forces on December 11, 2015, in the capital, Bujumbura, are misleading and biased, Human Rights Watch said today. This is one of several official inquiries that have failed to properly investigate security force abuses or hold those responsible to account.
The inquiry focused on reports of abuses during the most deadly operation by the Burundian security forces since the country’s crisis began in April. Human Rights Watch found that police and military shot dead scores of people in Nyakabiga and Musaga neighborhoods, apparently in retaliation for opposition attacks on four military installations, and for heavy shooting at security forces by gunmen in these neighborhoods.
“This is the latest in a series of commissions of inquiry in Burundi that has ignored widespread abuses by the security forces,” said Daniel Bekele, Africa director at Human Rights Watch. “These inquiries have covered up state abuses and have not led to justice.”
The Prosecutor General, Valentin Bagorikunda, set up an inquiry into the December 11 events on December 17, 2015. Summarizing the inquiry’s main conclusions on March 10, 2016, he did not mention killings or abuses of Bujumbura residents by the security forces. He claimed that those killed on December 11 were armed “combatants” wearing police or military uniforms.
Since 2010, there have been at least seven commissions of inquiry into allegations of killings and other abuses. Most of them have denied or downplayed serious abuses by state agents.
Human Rights Watch documented the killings of December 11 in detail and found no indications that the victims had participated in the attacks on the military installations. Some victims were found lying side by side, face down, and appeared to have been shot in the back or the head. Others survived with serious injuries. The security forces also carried out large-scale arbitrary arrests in both neighborhoods.
In March, two United Nations special rapporteurs and one from the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights visited Burundi to investigate human rights abuses at the request of the UN Human Rights Council. They plan to return in June and send a small team of human rights monitors to be based in the country.
Presenting their interim report to the Human Rights Council on March 22, Christof Heyns, UN special rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary, or arbitrary executions, said: “The overt violence of last year seems to have subsided. At the same time covert violence, for example, in the form of disappearances, seems to have increased… There are some in [the Burundian] government who seem to be open to change. Others, however, are in denial anything is wrong.”
Given the Burundian justice system’s inability or unwillingness to conduct credible and thorough investigations, an independent, international commission of inquiry is needed to establish the truth about the grave abuses in Burundi in the past year and support the efforts of the special rapporteurs, Human Rights Watch said.
An international commission with expertise in criminal and forensic investigations would conduct in-depth inquiries with a view to establishing individual responsibility for the most serious crimes. It would probe deeper into these crimes, complementing the work of UN and African Union human rights observers in Burundi as well as the Human Rights Council’s initiatives.
Burundian government officials have repeatedly claimed there is peace and security throughout the country, despite the fact that several hundred people have been killed over the past year and many others arbitrarily arrested, tortured or disappeared. The minister of human rights, social affairs and gender, Martin Nivyabandi, told the Human Rights Council in Geneva on March 22 that, “the situation is normalizing” and that, “Burundi today couldn’t be a land where impunity reigns.”
“Contrary to the minister’s statement, impunity has been at the heart of Burundi’s political system for years and is one of the principal causes of the current human rights crisis,” Bekele said.
Serious new abuses were reported throughout March and early April. Scores of people have been arrested and others taken away to unknown destinations by the police or intelligence services. Ruling party officials, police, and members of the ruling party youth league known as Imbonerakure arrested at least 16 members of the opposition party National Liberation Forces (FNL) at a bar in Kirundo province on March 12. The police spokesman, Pierre Nkurikiye, claimed they were conducting a political meeting without authorization.
Armed opposition groups have also been responsible for abuses. Unidentified men killed two ruling party officials in Bururi and Makamba provinces on March 15.
Since early 2016, the intelligence services have intensified surveillance of human rights activists, journalists, and other perceived critics, making it even more difficult to document and expose abuses and putting the few activists who remain at even greater risk.
Tensions were heightened on March 22, after an unidentified gunman shot dead Lt. Col. Darius Ikurakure, a military commander reportedly involved in many abuses, at the army headquarters in Bujumbura. Later that day, residents of Bujumbura reported that security forces arrested several people. That night, another military officer, Major Didier Muhimpundu, was killed in Bujumbura. An opposition group, the Republican Forces of Burundi (Forces républicaines du Burundi, FOREBU), later claimed responsibility for Ikurakure’s death.
“The government’s claims that Burundi is calm and that security is improving aren’t true,” Bekele said. “The recent killing of the military officials has heightened tensions, and many people are being arrested or simply go missing.”
“The United Nations Security Council has unanimously backed a resolution that lays the groundwork for deploying a UN police presence in Burundi to help calm the violence in the troubled nation. The resolution tasks UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon with drawing up within 15 days a list of options for the proposed police force, in consultation with the Burundian government and the African Union. NBS’s Solomon Serwanjja spoke to the Burundian ambassador to Uganda, Jean Bosco Bareza about his government’s reaction to the possible deployment of the UN police in Bujjumbura” (NTV Uganda, 2016).
“In a press conference issued on this Saturday morning by Tom Malinowski, an assistant Secretary, Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor concerning his visit in Burundi where he met with different officials, Tom declared his position about the procrastination of the government to execute their” (Iwacu Web TV, 2016).