“President Pierre Nkurunziza has reaffirmed his position as Burundi’s President by stating that God is on his side of power and party. He issued the sentiment on Sunday during an extraordinary congress organised by the ruling party, the National Council for the Defense of Democracy – Forces for the Defense of Democracy. “Many people in the world have stated that there will be no elections in Burundi. But God has always been stronger and we thank him because he has been with us and also has bee…” (Africa News, 2016)
GENEVA, Switzerland, June 17, 2016/ – At the end of their second visit to Burundi, the three human rights experts of the United Nations Independent Investigation on Burundi (UNIIB) called for concrete steps to be taken to end the crisis in the country.
“One of the most significant developments since the beginning of the year has been the significant drop in the number of executions. This is extremely welcome and we reiterate our call on all parties to stop the use of violence as a political tool, “ said Christof Heyns, one of the three experts and the Head of UNIIB.
“However this relative calm should not be confused with long term stability. Serious human rights concerns remain and there are no signs that disappearances and torture have subsided,” said Pablo de Greiff. “Impunity for serious present and past violations remains the order of the day.”
The experts also noted that many political prisoners remain in jail and that a new pattern of mass arrests has emerged recently, mostly affecting ordinary people, including children. “In various parts of the country, school children have been arrested or suspended from school because their books had scribbles on pictures of the Head of State. Some of them face the prospect of spending five to 10 years in jail. We will continue to closely follow these cases, including the actions taken by the National Human Rights Commission on them,” said Heyns.
“It has been particularly disconcerting to see the state of disarray of civil society in Burundi, and the continuously shrinking space for what remains of it. Many NGOs remain suspended and those that continue to function operate in a climate of fear and intimidation. I was particularly struck by the fact that some of the NGO representatives we met during our last visit in March have fled or are now too scared to talk to us,” said Maya Sahli-Fadel.
“For Burundi to move away from violence and conflict, it needs a truly inclusive political dialogue that will address the roots of the political crisis. The talks which recently started in Arusha and Brussels are a positive step forward but should be broadened to ensure that all actors of the crisis are included,” said Heyns. “Real progress in power sharing will be crucial to achieving sustainable peace.”
“These are preliminary observations, and we look forward to working further with Burundian authorities and society to take the protection of human rights forward,” he added.
During their mission, the experts met with national authorities and other political actors, members of civil society, victims of human rights violations, as well as with humanitarian organisations, including UN agencies, and international and regional partners operating in Burundi. They also visited the Mpimba prison in Bujumbura.
The UNIIB is composed of Mr. Christof Heyns (South Africa), the UN Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial, Summary or Arbitrary Executions; Ms. Maya Sahli-Fadel (Algeria), the African Union Special Rapporteur on Refugees, Asylum Seekers, Migrants and Internally Displaced Persons; and Mr. Pablo de Greiff (Colombia), the UN Special Rapporteur on the Promotion of Truth, Justice, Reparation and Guarantees of Non-Recurrence.
The Independent Investigation recently deployed human rights monitors to Burundi, with the aim of helping the three human rights experts gather information on human rights violations and abuses committed in the country since April 2015. They are scheduled to submit their final report to the Human Rights Council in September 2016.
The United States Department of the Treasury has yesterday stated that three Burundian persons have been put on their sanctions list. These have been decided by the Office of Foreign Asset Control. These are three persons are:
“NGENDABANKA, Marius, Kinanira IV, Kinindo, Bujumbura, Burundi; DOB 25 Aug 1974; nationality Burundi; Gender Male; Commander, First Military Region; Deputy Chief of Land Forces; Burundian National Defense Forces Deputy Commander of Operations (individual) [BURUNDI].
NSHIMIRIMANA, Edouard; DOB 1970; POB Bugeni Vyanda, Burundi; nationality Burundi; Passport 089567 (Burundi) issued 10 Feb 2006 expires 10 Feb 2011; Former Lieutenant Colonel (individual) [BURUNDI].
SIBOMANA, Ignace; DOB 01 Jan 1972; POB Buhina, Kanyosha, Bujumbura, Burundi; nationality Burundi; Gender Male; Burundian Army Colonel, Chief of Military Intelligence (individual) [BURUNDI]” (U.S. Department of the Treasury, 02.06.2016).
Who are these men? That is what I asked myself, there has to be reasons for they are getting sanctioned. The American Government and U.S. Treasury doesn’t do this to candy snatchers in Mogadishu or Kinshasa, not even Belarussian citizens get this quickly. So they have to have a past or a reputation of certain actions.
The Rebel leader against Nkurunziza is on the List:
Let’s take the first person I will look at are Edouard Nshimirimana, have said this: “Then, we will fight until Nkurunziza is removed from power” (…)“We are on the ground and more attacks against the government will be common,” Nshimirimana said, adding that all the anti-government fighting groups have come together” (Tribune News Service, 2015). “The other objective of the new group is to protect the Arusha Agreement that limits Burundian presidents to two terms in office, said Nshimirimana. All forces against Nkurunziza are united under the Republican Forces of Burundi, Nshimirimana said. “We are calling on all Burundians who believe in the rule of law to join us,” said Nshimirimana. The rebel force was behind the recent attacks on three military camps, where they captured enough weapons to fight Burundi’s army, said Nshimirimana. “We have no choice and the world is not helping Burundians who are being killed,” he said” (Tangen, 2015). As a rebel, I am sure he is more preoccupied with finding sources to get ammunition than if he can possible use his coins on White Castle in Manhatten, New York.
The loyal soldier of Nkurunziza:
Here is the second person I look into, her is some information him, by decree of the Burundi Government he was promoted on the 6th May 2014 to be appointed as the Commander of the First Military Command. As his serial number is 0244 of the Military Commando. After this have also achieved this as Military leader: “Colonel Marius Ngendabanka , commander of the 1st Military legion , close subordinates, he “pushed” the Cibitoke assailants last December , struggled against the coup-makers and protected television and national radio. He got the Order of Patriotic Merit, Commander Class 2 million frbu and a certificate of honor” (Isanganiro, 2015). So he surely have to answer for his actions at one point, but if he cares about the sanctions from the U.S. is doubtful.
The Intelligence officer of Nkurunziza:
Here is the third person and the last one who is also a loyal subject of the Nkurunziza reign, this been said about him: He became a part of a military commission that set up two military camps in May 2015, one in Musaga in central part of Bujumbura, the second camp would be set up in Muzinda in Bubanza province; this relocations of Military camps happen after the coup d’état. He became a part of the 9 person commission, here is what being said: “commission to execution this project has already been implemented. It would be composed of 9 officers, mostly from the former Armed Movements and Political Parties (PMPA). Among these, we can cite Colonel Ignatius SIBOMANA charge of military intelligence technically called G2 army” (Jeudi, 2015). Here is another report: “Ignace Sibomana was one of drugs’ traders named as “Kanyanga” for three years ago in Rwabinagu Village. He told his neighbors that Rwabinagu Centre was the focal point of drugs and he hopes that with the sensitization people will positively change step by step. Ignace Sibomana assumed that narcotic business impedes the development process and he recommended parents to give advice to some of inhabitants who don’t respect the assigned rules”(Ntakirutimana, 2012). This here been said at a later stage: “Colonel Sibomana Ignace head of department in charge of intelligence to the joint chiefs of staff general of the national defence force: (G2) SS 0174 of the serial number. He’s taking it out on a daily basis to the officers ex-FAB, he is behind almost all undue imprisonment of military and former military ex fab. His last find, spying on his fellow officers tutsi of staff general with microphones posed quietly in their offices!!!” (Burundi Journalistes et Société Civile, 20.02.2016). So the former drug-dealer turned Chief of Intelligence, that is surely a case of corrupted mind, hat the U.S. wants to sanction. As he is parts of the central leadership in the Nkurunziza military organization, so he surely have a say and makes important orders in the unrest and crisis.
This is enough for now. Peace.
Isanganiro, Pacifique Cubahiro – ‘53ème Anniversaire de l’indépendance du Burundi : Des militaire et policiers contre le putch manqué ovationnés par le président Pierre Nkurunziza’ (01.07.2015) link: http://infosgrandslacs.info/productions/53eme-anniversaire-de-lindependance-du-burundi-des-militaire-et-policiers-contre-le
Ntakirutimana, Faustin – ‘“Drugs inhibit the development of the country”, Claudine UWINEZA’ (25.01.2012 link: http://www.southernprovince.gov.rw/index.php?id=56&tx_ttnews%5Btt_news%5D=207&cHash=3a0a224dd7e644c5acc2f27bf4174bd9
Jeudi – ‘Démantèlement ou simple délocalisation de camps militaires?’ (12.09.2015) link: http://www.rpa.bi/index.php/component/k2/item/1326-demantelement-ou-simple-delocalisation-de-camps-militaires
Tribune News Service – ‘Burundian rebels unite, declare war on President Nkurunziza’ (23.12.2015) link: http://www.pressherald.com/2015/12/23/burundian-rebels-unite-declare-war-on-president-nkurunziza/
Tangen, Ole Jr. – ‘New rebel group vows to overthrow Burundian president’ (25.12.2015) link: http://www.dw.com/en/new-rebel-group-vows-to-overthrow-burundian-president/a-18942114
U.S. Department of Treasury – ‘Burundi Sanctions Designations’ (02.06.2016) link: https://www.treasury.gov/resource-center/sanctions/OFAC-Enforcement/Pages/20160602.aspx
“Opposition groups in Burundi have accused the government of arming the ruling party’s youth wing. They say it is an attempt to keep the president in power. People who have fled the country say they have been intimidated and fear for their lives” (Al Jazeera English, 2016)
ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia, May 4, 2016 – Thirty-two (32) African Union human rights observers will be able to continue their work in Burundi for another six months after the United Nations Peacebuilding Fund (PBF) transferred $2.26 million to the African Union Commission late last week, the AU and the PBF announced today.
This is the first time the PBF provides direct support to the African Union Commission and it represents a move toward strengthened cooperation between the UN and the AU in peacebuilding, in line with the resolutions adopted by the UN General Assembly and Security Council last week, calling on the UN to strengthen its cooperation with the AU and other regional organisations.
In this latest round of financing, the PBF also supports the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) in Burundi with just over $300,000 for training and joint monitoring missions with the AU.
The observers were deployed in response to the decisions of the African Union Peace and Security Council of 14 May 2015 and 13 June 2015, expressing its concern with the increased cases of human rights abuses in Burundi. They are tasked with observing, monitoring and documenting human rights violations in the country as well as human rights advocacy with the government.
The observers have been deployed since July 2015 with funding support from the European Union, which is also supporting the AU military experts in Burundi. The PBF funds cover 32 human rights observers’ presence from April to September 2016. Their deployment is the second step in the AU’s planned deployment of 100 human rights observers and 100 military experts.
This support builds on existing PBF financing for human rights in Burundi. Human rights have been one of the key areas of PBF support to Burundi from the initial stages of PBF engagement in 2008. The AU and the PBF welcomed this fruitful cooperation and hope that the presence of the AU human rights observers will help to reduce the violations of human rights in Burundi.
“The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein today warned of a “sharp increase in the use of torture and ill-treatment in Burundi” and voiced concerns about worrying reports of the existence of illegal detention facilities, both in Bujumbura and in the countryside. His Office (OHCHR) estimates that some 595 people have been ill-treated or tortured since April 2015, a figure which is likely to be an under-estimate. Daniel Lutaaya has been speaking to the Burundian Ambassodor to Uganda H. E Jean Bosco Barege to find out the truth or otherwise to this matter” (WBS TV Uganda, 2016)
GENEVA, Switzerland, April 18, 2016 – The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein warned Monday of “a sharp increase in the use of torture and ill-treatment in Burundi” and voiced concerns about worrying reports of the existence of illegal detention facilities, both in Bujumbura and in the countryside.
“Since the beginning of the year, my team has recorded at least 345 new cases of torture and ill-treatment. These shocking figures are a clear indicator of the widespread and growing use of torture and ill-treatment by government security forces,” said Zeid. In all, some 595 people have been ill-treated or tortured since April 2015, a figure which is likely to be an under-estimate.
“Torture and ill-treatment mainly take place at the time of arrest, upon arrival or during detention, especially in facilities run by the Service national de renseignements (SNR), the police and, to a lesser extent, the army. Perpetrators of torture and ill-treatment have so far enjoyed total impunity,” the High Commissioner said.
“Many detainees visited by our team in the past few weeks had fresh wounds on their bodies. Some were unable to walk without assistance after being beaten with belts, iron rods or sharp objects, or burned. I am profoundly disturbed by these terrible accounts and I urge the Burundian Government, in the strongest terms possible, to put an immediate end to these unacceptable and illegal practices,” said Zeid.
Most of the tortured and ill-treated detainees say they were denied medical treatment. Some said intelligence services hid them in the toilets for days so their torture wounds could heal before they were returned to cells holding other prisoners.
During a visit by a UN human rights team to SNR facilities in Bujumbura last week, 30 of the 67 people held there displayed physical signs of torture. Many irregularities were identified during the visit, including the fact that 25 of the detainees had been kept in custody beyond the prescribed maximum time limit. In addition, while all detainees had been arrested for what were reportedly minor offences, the accusations entered against many of them in the SNR registry were for much more serious criminal offences, including undermining State security, illegal possession of arms and espionage.
Several cases of ill-treatment and torture have also been reported at police stations, especially in those located in the two Bujumbura neighbourhoods of Citiboke and Musaga, and at the Mutakura military camp.
The High Commissioner noted that the use of torture and ill-treatment was also widespread in the countryside, noting a case of two men who said they were arrested by SNR agents in Nkamba province at the end of March. They said they were seriously beaten and repeatedly dropped in Lake Tanganyika with their hands tied on several occasions in order to force them to confess to crimes.
“I recognize the efforts made by the Government in releasing at least 45 demonstrators following the Secretary-General’s visit. However, in addition to the reports of torture and ill-treatment in official detention facilities, I am deeply concerned about information emerging about the existence of secret detention facilities across the country,” the High Commissioner said. A man who was arrested at the end of March by unidentified armed individuals stated that he was taken blindfolded to an unfinished building in an unknown location, where nine other people were also being held. The victim reported witnessing the execution of two fellow detainees before he managed to escape. Reports have also been received of another illegal detention facility, allegedly set up by the police with the support of the Imbonerakure militia, in the city of Ngozi, in the northern part of the country.
The High Commissioner said he had also received “persistent reports of arrest, detention, torture, ill-treatment, enforced disappearances and assassination of certain members of the police and military by other government forces.” Members and officers of the former Burundian Armed Forces – known as ex-FAB and which was predominantly Tutsi – appear to have been particularly targeted, including some retired soldiers.
Many soldiers interviewed by the UN Human Rights Office while in detention said that the torture or ill-treatment they endured was aimed at forcing them to confess their support for rebel groups or to provide names of other people suspected of supporting them.
Some soldiers detained at the SNR facilities claimed to have witnessed the killing of a number of their colleagues. On 10 April 2016, the body of an ex-FAB soldier, who had been arrested the previous day by the police, was found in Gesenyi, near Citiboke. At least five soldiers have also been reported missing following their arrest by police or military forces over the last few weeks.
Zeid also deplored the increase in attacks by unidentified armed men, reportedly linked to rebel groups. At least 30 attacks in Bujumbura and in several provinces took place in March, killing one civilian and four soldiers. Around five civilians were also reportedly killed during a rebel attack near the Tanzanian border on 11 April.
The High Commissioner also condemned the targeting of members of the ruling party, the CNDD-FDD, including the assassination of a local official and member of the CNDD-FDD who was shot at his home by unidentified armed men on 13 April in the town of Kajaga, in Bujumbura Mairie province.
PARIS, France, April 15, 2016 – Back from a fact-finding mission in Burundi, conducted in March 2016, FIDH and ITEKA condemn serious human rights violations in Burundi, mainly perpetrated by defence and security forces, against a background of ethnic and genocidal ideology. The ongoing crimes could already be qualified as crimes against humanity and there are now signs that the crisis could lead to acts of genocide. This crisis demands a strong response from the UN, notably through the deployment of a UN police and an international commission of inquiry to prevent mass atrocities.
Since April 2015, 700 people have allegedly been killed, 4,300 have been arbitrarily detained, and several hundred people (800 according to some sources) have been forcily disappeared. Hundreds of other people have been tortured and dozens of women have been sexually assaulted. As a result of the conflict in Burundi, more than 250,000 Burundians have already fled the country. While the United Nations (UN) Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon is set to submit options for the deployment of UN elements by 15 April, FIDH and ITEKA, call upon the international community, including the UN Security Council, to deploy an international police task force of at least 500 police officers with the objective of protecting civilians, stopping ongoing lethal violence, and preventing further armed clashes. FIDH and Iteka believe that if these trends continue, the African Union or the United Nations must send a peacekeeping force to end the violence and the repression of an increasingly genocidal nature.
During its mission, and in a forthcoming report, the FIDH delegation has documented and established the continuation of targeted and extra-judicial killings; of daily arbitrary arrests and detention; of the intensification of enforced disappearances and illegal detention facilities as well as torture. FIDH also witnessed the high level of surveillance and control on Burundian society by security forces, including by the National Intelligence Service (NIS) and by the ruling party’s youth militias, the Imbunerakure.
“The situation is particularly worrying with the NIS – the main actor of the repression – that has infiltrated every layer of society and systematically tortures detainees. Parallel chains of command have been established within the security forces to orchestrate the repression. Part of the Imbunerakure1 militia is trained, armed, and deployed throughout the country and acts as the defacto security forces. Tensions within the army are extremely vivid. The international community must do everything in its power to protect civilians and prevent the situation from getting out of control,” said Karim Lahidji, FIDH President. “The nature of the crimes witnessed by the FIDH delegation could very well fall under the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court (ICC). The Prosecutor, Ms Fatou Bensouda, should immediately open a preliminary examination of the situation in Burundi, which is state party to the ICC” he added.
The evidence gathered by FIDH and ITEKA establishes that the Tustis are particularly targeted by the violence and due to their ethnicity. They are more targeted during arrests, are subject to ethnic insults from security forces and systematically tortured during detention. The public and private messages of members of the ruling party CNDD-FDD or regime supporters are referring to Tutsis more and more openly as “enemies, “terrorists” and “genocidal insurrection”.2 Since the assassination on 22 March 2016, of Lieutenant-colonel Darius Ikurakure3, pillar of Burundi’s repressive system, targeted killings of soldiers belonging to the former Burundian Armed Forces – FAB (mainly composed of Tutsis) – have also increased.
According to information gathered by FIDH and ITEKA, more than 10 former Burundian army soldiers have been killed by unidentified men since the beginning of March. These elements are part of a larger context marked by an increasingly ethnic discourse by Burundian authorities and their supporters. The day before the funeral of the Lieutenant-Colonel Darius Ikurakure, messages were circulated on social media, including the following: “Dear HUTUS, wake up! Tomorrow we will bury another hero of the anti-Tutsi struggle, his excellency Lieutenant General Darius Ikurakure. Hutu officers and civilians will attend to thank him for his work. Come in number, and be careful and remember that he hero must not die alone, za mujeri sindumja muzincunge bibaye ngombwa mukore. Delende is Mike [watch those emaciated dogs, I am not a slave, if you must: work]. A word to the wise is enough! KORA [work]” circulated on social media. The term to “work” ,was used in Rwanda by the Hutu genocidal government to call upon the elimination of Tutsis. It was also used on 1 November 2015, by Burundian Senate President, Révérien Ndikuriyo, in front of his supporters and several Imbunerakure: “if you hear the signal with an order that it must end, emotions and tears will have no place !” and added “you must spray, you must exterminate those people (…) Wait for the day when we will say “work.”, you will see the difference!”. The conversation was not supposed to be recorded.
Burundian security forces involved in the repression are themselves made up of men who know how to execute orders and can “get things done,” according to a source close to the security services. “They are over 95% Hutus” adds the source. About ten units, among which the NIS, the Riot Squad (BAE), the Special Battalion for Institution Protection (BSPI), the Institution Protection Agency (API), the Combat Engineering Battalion (BGC), the Mobile Group for Rapid Intervention (GMIR) and Special Research Police(PSR), are led by those loyal to the regime directly linked through parallel command chains, to the presidency, including the civilian cabinet. Those persons, responsible for the repression, could be incriminated for the crimes perpetrated directly by them or under their authority and should be subjected to criminal prosecution and individual sanctions by international institutions and influential diplomatic bodies.
“FIDH and ITEKA are very concerned about the ethnic nature of the repression in recent months, the authoritarian rhetoric and the use of preventive violence by authorities and their supporters. This reminds of the anti-Hutu genocidal massacres of the last 40 years. The authorities consider that they are the only representatives of the people and refer any kind of political, ethnic and social pluralism to a “them” against “us”, deadly for the country. We solemnly call upon Burundian authorities to uphold the Arusha Agreement by ending the repression, freeing the thousands of political detainees, and take part in an honest dialogue with the opposition and the independent civil society,” urged Anschaire Nikoyagiza, ITEKA President.
In response to the abuses of the regime, many men are joining the ranks of rebel armed groups (Red Tabara and FOREBU). These groups have carried out targeted attacks and killings against representatives of CNDD-FDD, members of law enforcement and Imbonerakure in Bujumbura and in the provinces, which have resulted in civilian casualties.. Indiscriminate attacks against civilians may amount to war crimes and perpetrators must face justice.
Moreover, the documentation of these violations has become extremely dangerous. Human rights defenders, opponents and independent journalists still in Burundi are living mostly underground. They are followed and receive death threats. Almost every civil society leader, journalists and opposition member have been forced to flee the country and those who remain, leaders or activists, continue to be subjected to threats or even attacks by men suspected of acting on the behalf of the regime, especially the Imbonerakure.
The disappearance of Marie-Claudette Kwizera, ITEKA treasurer, since her arrest by NIS elements on 10 December 2015 illustrates a worrying phenomenon that would concern hundreds of cases. Some sources report at least 800 people have been foricbly disappeared. The documentation of these disappearances is more and more difficult because of the increase of illegal detention facilities. The Burundian authorities and the Independent National Commission on Human Rights (CNIDH), seized by FIDH on the case of Marie-Claudette Kwizera and other cases of enforced disappearances, were unable to provide explanations or information on the fate of these people who are neither refugees nor officially detained.
“Given the risk of a new civil war and the perpetration of mass crimes, our organisations urge the international community to deploy an international police force in the country (of at least 500 officers) to ensure the protection of civilians and facilitate the holding of an inclusive political dialogue as soon as possible. Furthermore, we call on the Security Council to mandate an independent international commission to investigate the crimes perpetrated since April 2015, ” said Dismas Kitenge, FIDH Vice President.
On 1 April 2016, the UN Security Council adopted Resolution 2279 urging all parties to the crisis to agree on a timetable for negotiations. It also calls on the UN Secretary-General, to present by 15 April to the Security Council “options” for the deployment of an international police force. In view of the security and human rights situation prevailing in the country, FIDH and ITEKA urge the UN to ensure that this task force has the mandate and the means to play a stabilizing, deterrent and monitoring role and to intervene in the event of the commission serious human rights violations.