Burundi security services and ruling party youth league are accused of killing and kidnapping opponents ahead of the 2020 election according to a report by human rights group Action by Christians for the Abolition of Torture (ACAT).
At least 16 people have been killed in different parts of Burundi in the month of June alone. Intelligence agents and the youth militia group allied to the ruling party, Imbonerakure, are said to be behind the heinous crimes.
In one case, two badly decomposed bodies were discovered tied to a tree on Bambo hill, Murwi commune on June 4, 2019. The administrator of the commune Joseph Ciza ordered immediate burial without investigating the cause of death. It is still unknown whether the perpetrators of the crime were arrested.
In Rohero Commune, Bukuru Jean Marie’s life was cut short after he was strangled on June 8, 2019. Jean was a taxi driver from Muramvya. To date, no suspect has been arrested.
This sad state of affairs was replicated in Kinyinya Commune where three bodies were discovered floating in River Rumpungwe on June 8, 2019. The administrator ordered immediate burial without conducting an autopsy or even waiting for the victims to be properly identified. It is not clear who was responsible for the triple homicide as police are yet to arrest any suspects.
On June 10, 2019, police officers patrolling Kinindo area, Muha Commune of Bujumbura shot dead a man. Sources reveal that the victim pleaded for his life to be spared to no avail. Police are yet to arrest any suspects.
The body of Pascal Ndayisaba was discovered on Mutoyi Hill in Bugendana Commune, Gitega Province on June 14, 2019. Eye witnesses report that the victim was stabbed by a dagger. Police arrested Elysee Nduwayo, the victim’s brother who was quickly sentenced to 15 years without conducting any investigations.
Faustin Bigirimana met his tragic end on June 21, 2019 in Bugabira Commune, Kirundo Province. It is alleged that Bigirimana was approached by members of the Imbonerakure to join the ruling party. He declined to do so, a decision that eventually lead to his death. To date police have not arrested any suspect.
The following day a woman was discovered dead on Rusiga Hill, Rugombo Commune in Cibitoke Province. The administration ordered for immediate burial without conducting any investigations. To date, no suspect has been brought to book.
ACAT accuses the Judiciary for turning a blind eye to these crimes and meting out lenient punishment on the culprits.
Burundi sunk into a low-grade conflict in April 2015 after President Pierre Nkurunzinza was controversially elected for a third term. Since then, an estimated 400,000 people have fled the country to neighboring Tanzania, Uganda, Rwanda and DRC Congo.
ACAT consists of 72 Burundian human rights defenders who monitor and document incidents of human rights violations. Deaths are reported anonymously through text messages and calls by eyewitnesses and human rights defenders. ACAT then verifies the information before disseminating it to the public.