Youth, Ladies and Gentlemen
Today we commemorate the 26th Anniversary of the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi in Rwanda (KWIBUKA26), under the theme: “Remember-Unite-Renew”.
This is the twelfth year since the African Union started the annual commemoration of the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi in Rwanda. However, this year our commemoration activities have been limited due to the COVID-19 Pandemic. Although we will not be formally gathering at the African Union Commission for this event as usual, I encourage you to commemorate this day from wherever you are.
This annual commemoration affords us an opportunity to reflect, and continue the fight against genocide, its ideology, denial and impunity with a view to ensure that never again shall Africa experience such a heinous crime against humanity.
In this regard, I would like to pay tribute to the leadership and the people of Rwanda for consistently working towards “Never Again” and for emerging through resilience and unity from the terrible past and putting Rwanda on a development path that continues to inspire many countries on our continent and beyond.
Between April and July 1994, the world stood still in awe as more than a million people were killed in a space of one hundred days in Rwanda. As we remember the fallen mothers and fathers, brothers and sisters, sons and daughters in Rwanda, we should not be oblivious of the fact that genocide is always well planned, deliberately executed with impunity, yet genocide is also always followed by denial.
We should, therefore, redouble our efforts in fighting genocide ideology, its denial as well as impunity. If genocide ideology persists, its denial will continue unabated and impunity will reign. This task should not be the responsibility of the leadership and people of Rwanda alone. It is the collective responsibility of the African Union, Regional Economic Communities/regional mechanisms and all Member States, CSOs, the youth organisations, the women’s movement, Media and Academia. We should collectively combat genocide ideology, impunity and denial working hand-in-glove with the international community and all other stakeholders.
Fighting impunity should equally be at the heart of our collective efforts as AU member states as well as the international community by arresting, prosecuting or extraditing indicted fugitives. Last year at its 836th meeting held on 3rd April, the AU Peace and Security Council called upon countries to arrest, prosecute or extradite fugitives accused of genocide. It is imperative that countries move towards implementation of this decision.
This commemoration should remind us of a past never to be repeated. It should challenge us to deal with the present and the future in our efforts towards achieving peace, reconciliation, accountability, justice, social harmony, constructive management of diversity and the respect for and protection of human and peoples’ rights on the African Continent.
Our Commemoration of KWIBUKA26 this year assumes a special significance given the AU Theme for this year (2020) “Silencing the Guns: Creating Conducive Conditions for Africa’s Development”. I wish to seize this opportunity to call on all Africans to renew our commitment to promote peaceful and inclusive societies that will silence the guns for the attainment of socio-economic development and structural transformation and provide a firm foundation for building the Africa We Want and the Africa we Deserve.
Let us “Remember-Unite-Renew”.
I thank you.
On the alleged rights violations committed in the country, the report highlights “numerous arrests” of people who called for a “no” vote in the referendum.
GENEVA, Switzerland, June 28, 2018 – Reporting to the Human Rights Council, the Commission of Inquiry on Burundi delivered its findings based on more than 380 interviews, in addition to 500 testimonies collected last year.
The dossier compiled by the three-member panel encompasses events surrounding the national referendum last month on constitutional reform which could extend President Pierre Nkurunziza’s term in office well beyond 2020.
Noting a presidential declaration made in support of his successor after the referendum, the report reiterates the view of some observers that Mr. Nkurunziza’s comments were “by no means a clear and firm commitment not to run” in future elections himself.
It also notes “difficulties” faced by international media outlets in covering events in the country amid the suspension of broadcasters including the BBC and Voice of America, following reports that were deemed “biased” by Burundian authorities.
On the alleged rights violations committed in the country, the report highlights “numerous arrests” of people who called for a “no” vote in the referendum, including members of opposition parties who were then allegedly executed or abducted.
It states that “unidentified bodies” have continued to be found “in various parts of the country” after their arrest by “individuals in police uniform” or National Intelligence Service (SNR) agents.
Victims were also targeted by the Imbonerakure — the youth wing aligned to the ruling CNDD-FDD party — whose influence is said to have risen “in the repressive machinery which has developed since 2015”.
Describing how the Imbonerakure “cover the country”, the Commission of Inquiry’s findings detail how their members inform the authorities about “real or perceived opponents in each locality”, all the while “harassing, controlling or intimidating the population”, with the approval of State officials.
This collaboration extends to putting pressure on people to collect contributions for elections in 2020, the report states, before detailing how civil servants are required to pay the equivalent of 10 per cent “or more” of their salary to an election fund.
This levy extends to households and others above voting age on an “ad hoc basis at the local level”, the report continues, citing eyewitness reports of “roadblocks set up throughout the country” by the Imbonerakure to check whether people had receipts for the tax.
Such developments have contributed to the “continuing deterioration” of the Burundian economy that has left the country’s people among the very poorest in the world, according to per capita earnings, the report continues.
Referencing the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), it states that 3.6 million people are in need of humanitarian assistance in Burundi today.
The deteriorating economic situation will be included in the Commission of Inquiry’s final report to the Human Rights Council in September.
I do not believe the reports that President Pierre Nkurunziza will step down in 2020 when his “final” third term is ending. As he has already rewritten the Constitution, gotten a favorable verdict in the Constitutional Court to run in 2015 and has reason to step down. As he has consolidated all powers among himself and his closest allies. Even build a youth brigade together with police, military and agents of the government oppress, detain and kill opposition activists and leaders. Therefore, he has no reason to step down. If so, what will he become if he steps down?
Will he become a shoeshine boy on the streets of Bujumbura or merchant. Since he has been the merchant of death and destruction. He has used propaganda and misused power. Shouldn’t he be afraid of stepping down? Since he has oppressed, taken total control and gotten rid of everyone standing in his way. Doesn’t he think that someone will have his crimes challenged if he steps down?
Seems like a dream after a 13 years of nightmare. He is supposed to just deliver 15 years of darkness and lack of dim light. I have feeling this isn’t real, other people like he has promised to step down and never did. They have said they would do so if the public wanted it. However, they have lingered for decades upon decades. Rigged elections, used the military as his power-tool to put the people into submission. Also the Imbonerakure to silence his opposition together with the Police. Therefore, he has little reason step down.
If someone is rewriting the Constitution to fit him, has all powers and should be afraid of prosecution and retribution after all the ills he has done. He would earn little to step down, unless he got a villa near Yahya Jammeh in Equatorial Guinea. That is the place where he should reside and surely President Obiang will give him space, like he offered Mugabe the other day. He want the dictator gathering on the outside of the African Union and no one can blame him for trying hard to do so.
However, Nkurunziza is just doing like many others of his kind. Speaking of stepping down, but never really doing so. He will rewrite and make sure he has the office. As he is using the state and the Republic as his private enterprise. The state party is all built around him and his cult-figure. He is the hero and the one that Burundi needs.
Therefore, I don’t believe the hype. At this speed there is a need for a revolution or a coup to bring him down. It is not like the elections or the CENI is built for anyone else than him. The way things are, everyone in the authorities are his stooges and his paid cronies. There are no one else than him. It is either Pierre or nothing. Peace.