President Nkurunziza warns
As the ruling CNDD-FDD party concluded the annual week dedicated to combatants on 18 November 2017 in Rugombo in the western province of Cibitoke, President Pierre Nkurunziza passed a strong warning to individuals who are likely to defect from the ruling party or to disobey the authorities. Such people are referred to as “Intumva” (the stubborn). President Nkurunziza said that in 2015, the ruling CNDD-FDD was not vigilant enough in addressing those who finally defected. According to him, authorities spent a lot of time advising them but they finally defected. He said this time, he will not lose time advising potential defectors, but stressed that those reluctant to obey the party would be left alone and would “meet in the heaven”. He made it clear that some have already been identified as showing intent to defect. Many interpreting his warning strongly believe that potential defectors might be killed before they quit the ruling CNDD-FDD party or voice active opposition to Nkurunziza.
During the same address, Pierre Nkurunziza explained the meaning of the Imbonerakure who are accused of perpetrating mass atrocities. According to him, the first Imbonerakure is God, for the word simply means “the visionary.”
CSOs snub Arusha inter-Burundian dialogue
As Burundians are expected to meet for the fourth inter-Burundian dialogue in Arusha from 27 November to 8 December 2017, 18 independent civil society organizations addressed a letter to the mediator explaining a number of reasons for their absence to the session. The main reasons are, among other things, security, as they lack faith in Tanzania’s willingness to protect opposition members, or other Burundians, present on its territory.
The CSOs highlighted the enforced disappearance of four opposition activists who were arrested in Tanzania and reportedly handed back to Bujumbura. The CSOs also complained about the lack of inclusivity in the talk as core parties and civil society leaders who took the lead in the peaceful protests are not invited.
They also raised the opposition of EAC leaders to the opening of an ICC investigation in the situation. This attitude is believed to support and encourage impunity in Burundi. They also regret the silence of the EAC region regarding the forthcoming amendment of the constitution, whereas the very decision to appoint President Museveni as Mediator during the 3rd emergency summit in July 2015 had prevented Burundi authorities from amending the constitution.
In reaction to their concerns, the facilitation team released a statement on 26 November 2017 confirming that safety of all participants is guaranteed.
International NGO suspended
In a letter n°530/2469 /CAB/2017 of 21 November 2017, the Minister of Home Affairs, Pascal Barandagiye suspended all the activities of the International NGO Tubura- One Acre Fund with immediate effect. While the notification letter doesn’t elaborate more about the reasons for the suspension of the NGO, Pascal Barandagiye mentioned that Tubura was suspended after the Minister of Agriculture complained about the NGO’s approach.
Human rights violations
Some of the reported cases of human rights violations during the report period include:
- On 17 November 2017, the Edouard Ndizeye household was attacked by a group of Imbonerakure militiamen accompanied by the administrator of the District of Makamba, Mr. Japhet Ntungwanayo.
- On 19 November 2017, six members of the Forces nationales de liberation (FNL), namely Aimé Ndikumagenge, Dieudonné Ndayiziga, Abdul Niyonkuru, Filoz Hazimana, Onésime Bitangimana and Jean Claude Irakoze were arrested and tortured by men under orders of the chief of Zone Buhiga, Phocas Sindaruhuka.
- On 21 November 2017, the APRODH representative in Gitega, Nestor Nibitanga, was arrested by the police and national intelligence services (NIS) and transferred to the NIS in Bujumbura where he has been detained ever since.
- On 21 November 2017, two FNL militants, Venant Ndayegamiye and Ndinzahaya, were arrested at Cunyu hill in the District of Buganda.
- On 22 November 2017, two children, aged five and nine had their left hands cut off with knives and machetes by two teenagers who caught them stealing from a maize field on Karemba hill, in the District of Itaba.
- On 22 November 2017, three dead bodies were recovered in the Nyamagana River in the District of Buganda.
- On 24 November 2017 the dead body of a retired soldier, Serges Ndikumagenge, was recovered in his pub in the District of Makamba.
- On 24 November 2017, a representative of the Imbonerakure in Jimbi in the District of Kibago namely Niyonkuru was beaten and injured by policemen.