Burundi: A look into the UN Report of September 2016; Gross Human Rights Violations from Imbonekura and other state agents; So that President Nkurunziza can stay in power!

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Burundi has been in turmoil ever since the current President Pierre Nkurunziza decided that himself we’re more important than the nation he was running. His power and position we’re more the key needed in his equation. Nkurunziza used the Supreme Court and Parliament to get a third term and a second election in his favour as Opposition didn’t even turn out. After that the oppressive behaviour and harassment has been genuine, as the Police and Imbonerakure has been used to assassinate, kill, detain and torture the ones who doesn’t follow the party line of Nkurunziza.

After this the UN has dropped a resolution, had a peace-talks designated from the East African Community (EAC) and H.E. Benjamin Mpaka, but that hasn’t gone anywhere as the little Police Force from the UN is powerless, while the Peace-Talks haven’t even had all parties that needed to compromise as the Nkurunziza party has banned and dislodged them. So the Central Government does what it can to control them by force and intimidation.

Because of these violations and the fear of spreading information and Intel about it the press, the government has a month after the release of the UN Report done this: “A letter signed by Foreign Affairs Minister Alain Aime Nyamitwe said Pablo de Greiff of Colombia, Christof Heyns of South Africa, and Maya Sahli-Fadel of Algeria were no longer welcome in Burundi” (BBC News, 2016). So the Burundian Authorities didn’t like the effect of them there and therefore acted with silencing them like they are doing with civil society and citizens already. Now, not letting people in from the UN and as the UN mandate to make sure the Burundian Government acts righteous towards own citizens, is a crime in the eyes of Burundian Authorities, therefore, I had to look through this report. A government cannot cry that much and cry foul over nothing. Here is what I see as key aspects of it.

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Therefor days after the UN Experts released a report on Human Rights violations these we’re the words:

“The UN experts collected unverified information and did not mention sources for their report’s credibility”, deplores Martin Nivyabandi, the Minister of National Solidarity, Gender and Human Rights. He said that the UN experts toured Burundi and saw plenty of positive work but they didn’t mention anywhere the progress observed on the ground. “During their stay in Burundi, the UN experts met different officials of Public institutions involved in the Human Rights, but unfortunately, the report did not take into consideration improvements on the ground. This UN investigation is a political report rather than being technical”, the Minister said” (…) “In a statement issued on 22 September, the ruling party rejects the allegations of the UN report. «CNDD-FDD rejects unverified accusations and dangerously biased contained in that report, apparently the result of a vicious campaign against the regime, the manipulation of public opinion, which is in line with the destructive business”, said Evariste Ndayishimiye, Secretary General of the ruling party. (Uwimana, 2016).

If you would expect that the Burundian Government would have praised a UN Report on Human Rights Violations than you’re a fool. No Government would ever like to slap on the wrist and then answered with sweet words of joy. No, the Burundian Authorities answered the way you should expect that they want the reports and injustices put under rug. They don’t want the systematic repression of citizens by any means.

To start with a Key Ingredient to the Burundian state:  

The citizens of Burundi are not helped by friends and neighbours of Burundi who shield the Government from its national and international human rights obligations.  All countries, but particularly those who have close relations with Burundi, and especially those that have played an historically important role, including in the process leading to the Arusha Agreement, should exercise their good offices, unambiguously, in defence of the human rights of the citizens of Burundi” (UN HRC, P: 23, 2016)

How Burundian Government answered the UN HRC mission:

Several government officials said they were not in a position to provide information, but would do so in writing afterwards. By letter dated 19 July 2016, the experts requested specific questions to the Government, with a follow-up dated 1 September 2016. The last letter also offered technical capacity to document the alleged mass graves. Regrettably, no response was received until the day when the report was completed. The response consisted in a blanket denial of all violations” (UN HRC, P: 4, 2016).

General in Burundi Assassainated 25.04.2016

Estimated Killings and Sexual Violence:

According to some estimates more than one thousand people have been killed as part of the crisis.  Thousands have reportedly been tortured, unknown numbers of women victims of various forms of sexual crimes, hundreds of people disappeared, and thousands illegally detained” (…) “No official figures of the number of people killed during the crisis are available, and the system of accountability is virtually non-existent. OHCHR has informed UNIIB that, as of 30 August 2016, it has verified 564 cases of executions since 26 April 2015. Given the constraints under which OHCHR operate this is clearly a conservative estimate” (…) “UNIIB received first-hand information confirming the involvement of the Imbonerakure in murders of perceived opposition sympathizers. Thus, a former member of the Imbonerakure testified to UNIIB that he had participated in the killing of 20 individuals in Bujumbura, including two Imbonerakure who had warned persons that there were plans to execute them. The witness added that the Imbonerakure were expected to arrest all those who opposed the third mandate, were against the President, or who did not collaborate with the CNDD-FDD. The bodies of those executed in the cases mentioned were reportedly placed in bags, transported across the Ruzizi River using makeshift boats, and buried in the Democratic Republic of the Congo” (…) “Allegations of mass burials of those executed during these incidents have been widely reported.  Initial satellite imagery suggests that bodies may have been buried in mass graves during this period, including in Bujumbura (in Kanyosha and Mpanda) and Bubanza. UNIIB received testimony corroborating the existence of mass graves.  Reported intimidation by members of the Imbonerakure and SNR of persons in possession of information on this topic give further credibility to the testimony” (…) “Apparent examples of tit-for-tat targeted assassinations within the Army – particularly threatening to the integration of the armed forces – include the killings of several senior Army officers belonging either to the pre-Arusha Agreement Burundian Armed Forces (ex-FAB) or to the former rebel group “Armed Political Parties and Movements” (ex-PMPA) and the apparent retaliatory killings of alleged supporters of the regime within the forces. Among the most emblematic examples are the killings of General Adolphe Nshimirimana on 2 August 2015; General Karakuza on 25 April 2016; and Colonel Darius Ikurakure on 22 March 2016. The latter was shot dead in the compound of the headquarters of the Army Joint Staff” (…) “In a number of cases documented by UNIIB, the victims were sexually mutilated. For instance, a woman in Cibitoke, in August 2015, was sexually mutilated by Imbonerakure who were searching for her husband. She stated that when they did not find him, they tied her hands behind her back and hit her. “They put their hands inside my vagina until the uterus came out. I was left alone bleeding, screaming. The neighbours came out and they tried to put my uterus back in place.” (UN HRC, P: 7-8 + 10, 2016).

Disappeared people:

Marie-Claudette Kwizera, Treasurer of the CSO Ligue ITEKA was allegedly arrested on 10 December 2015 by the SNR and has not been seen since. More recently, on 22 July 2016, Jean Birgimana, journalist at Iwaku newspaper, was also allegedly arrested by the SNR and is missing since then” (UN HRC, P: 9, 2016).

Arbitrary arrests:

“Arbitrary arrests and detention have been a cornerstone of the repression in Burundi and have opened the way for a wide range of other human rights violations. Arbitrary arrests and detention surged after 26 April 2015, targeting individuals demonstrating against the third term. After the coup attempt of May 2015, the authorities intensified the repression. SNR, PNB, the Imbonerakure and FDN reportedly tracked down opponents, notably through cordon and search operations and raids in so-called opposition neighbourhoods of Bujumbura” (…) “Prison overcrowding is alarming with a 300 per cent occupancy rate in some prisons. The Mpimba prison in Bujumbura, which the UNIIB team visited, was built to house 800 prisoners; instead there were 3,800 detainees present” (…) “Although the Prosecutor General of the Republic has formally denied the existence of unacknowledged places of detention, UNIIB concludes that there are reasonable grounds to believe that the Security Forces and Imbonerakure have established several such sites” (UN HRC, P: 11-12, 2016).

Torture and Harrasment:  

“UNIIB conducted 65 interviews with witnesses and/or victims of torture or ill-treatment. Elements of the SNR, the PNB, the Imbonerakure and, to a lesser extent, the FDN, are consistently identified as the perpetrators, and some individuals, including senior figures of the security apparatus, have been repeatedly cited” (UN HRC, P: 9, 2016). “Independent journalists have been subjected to harassment, death threats, arrests, torture, and the closure of their offices and/or destruction of their equipment” (…) ”As with the other violations in this report the victims are not only those outside Government. There is also no room for dissenting positions within government circles or the ruling party” (UN HRC, P: 14, 2016).

Burundi Report Police

If you don’t see the systemic oppression, harassment and killings of citizens inside here and understand the behaviour of Burundian Government by now, then you’re blind by the arrogance of President Pierre Nkurunziza.

The Burundian Government that has after the banning of UN Experts, has decided to leave the ICC; while the UN Report on Human Rights Violations clearly shows through the process of collecting evidence that the Central Government through their Security Organizations and Youth Party Imbonerakure has violated and oppressed fellow citizens to keep power for their current President. This is why it’s red-hot and been attacked as a political document from the CNDD-FDD as they doesn’t want to hear about their killings and torture to be in charge.

We can just know that this is estimated killings, torture and harassments of citizens, the Central Government of Burundi will never in their mind release the systematic violence against their own citizens to the world. That will only happen when the shadow of this regime is gone. Because they do not want the world know about their misgivings and their acts against their own. Peace.

Reference:

BBC News – ‘Burundi bars UN investigators over report on human rights abuses’ (11.10.2016) link: http://www.bbc.com/news/world-africa-37614790

UN Human Rights Council – ‘Report of the United Nations Independent Investigation on Burundi (UNIIB) established pursuant to Human Rights Council resolution S-24/1’ (20.09.2016) – A/HRC/33/37

Uwimana, Diane – ‘Bujumbura dismisses UN report on Burundi as “political”’ (23.09.2016) link: http://www.iwacu-burundi.org/englishnews/bujumbura-dismisses-un-report-on-burundi-as-political/

Press Statement: “Torture and illegal detention on the rise in Burundi” – Zeid (18.04.2016)

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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.

Letter from the Chairman of SPLM/SPLA Youth League in The United States Call on South Sudanese Youths To Join the Party of Democracy, freedom and equality, SPLM/SPLA (29.08.2015)

US-SPLM

The SPLM/SPLA Youth League in the United States (SPL/SPLA-YL(USA) calls on all South Sudanese Youths to join the party of democracy, freedom and equality, the SPLM/SPLA-In Opposition under the leadership of Dr. Riek Machar Teny. The Youth League acknowledges that the SPLM/SPLA has fought a two year war liberation war to halt an autocratic regime that was poised to take back our hard-fought freedom and silence the people of South Sudan. The SPLM/SPLA-YL welcomes and celebrates the recently signed Compromised Peace Deal to return peace to our country. Peace at last! Peace at last! The SPLM/SPLA Youth League in the United States congratulates Dr. Riek Machar Teny for taking a lead in signing the peace agreement on time and President Salva Kiir to follow on its footsteps. The SPLM/SPLA-YL urges all parties to work hard to implement the peace deal.

The SPLM/SPLA-YL also congratulates the man of peace and the father of Self-determination, Dr. Riek Machar Teny, for once again delivering a multiparty system in South Sudan to decentralize power and democratize South Sudan. The Youth League would like to reiterate that the SPLM/SPLA is a national inclusive party that celebrates the diversity of South Sudanese people. South Sudanese society has always been democratic and federalist. A federal system of governance champions and adheres to the principles and values of the South Sudanese Society. Therefore, the SPLM/SPLA Youth League urges all South Sudanese from all tribes to support the SPLM in opposition.

South Sudanese youths will have a chance through a multiparty system to be politically active and have room to speak on issues that have plagued South Sudanese Youth since our independence in 2011 and prior. The Youth League celebrates that the SPLM/SPLA in opposition has already abandoned the status quo by filing its senior ranks with young South Sudanese politicians to challenge the political elites of Juba regime and Former Detainees. Therefore, it is in the interest of all South Sudanese youths to join this Democratic Party. The SPLM/SPLA Youth League in the United States finds that it’s imperative for all South Sudanese to join this party and be actively involved.

The SPLM/SPLA-YL recognizes that the youths in South Sudan have been the core of our struggle to win independence from Sudan and now liberated the country from a dictatorship rule. Thus, the youth shall not be forgotten this time around as we all know a country that does not invest in its youth shall never prosper. However, SPLM/SPLA acknowledges that the youth need to organize ourselves effectively and be present in the political arena, and it starts by joining the SPLM/SPLA-YL.

Signed by:

Cde. Matthew Dobuol Ruon

Chairman, SPLM/SPLA Youth League in the United States.