Burundi : President Neva’s speech to reinforce the acts of violence of Imbonerakure, according to Carina Tertsakian

Burundi : President Neva’s speech to reinforce the acts of violence of Imbonerakure, according to Carina Tertsakian

President Évariste Ndayishimiye praised on Saturday August 26, 2023, the role of the Imbonerakure in the night patrols and securing the borders. According to Carina Tertsakian, associate researcher at the Initiative for Human Rights in Burundi (IDHB), this speech will encourage members of the CNDD-FDD youth league to commit acts of violence, with the risk of illegal arrests, inhumane treatment and even assassinations will increase. INFO SOS Médias Burundi

The president gave a contradictory speech regarding the Imbonerakure. Since coming to power, he has often encouraged them to focus on development activities and abandon “security” activities and acts of violence against their adversaries. Overall positive words. But on Imbonerakure Day last Saturday, he seemed to backtrack on encouraging the Imbonerakure to secure borders and go on night patrols. These are worrying words, because everyone knows the record of the Imbonerakure in terms of serious human rights abuses, reacted Carina Tertsakian in an exclusive interview with SOS Médias Burundi.

“This kind of speech from the Head of State will only encourage them (the Imbonerakure) in these acts of violence and could lead to an upsurge in illegal arrests, ill-treatment, or even assassinations”, fears the one who has just spent more than 25 years working on human rights issues in the Great Lakes region of Africa.

Popular justice

Mr. Ndayishimiye also warned his “corrupt” collaborators. He claimed that “I will hand you over to the people to punish you themselves, I will not wait for people to take to the streets to demonstrate”, insisting that “popular revolts are the result of the actions of leaders who do not respect the rights of citizens.

“Burundi has a judicial system, even if it suffers from many problems. If an authority or any other person has committed an act of corruption or another abuse, it is the responsibility of justice to do its job. Judicial authorities should investigate, and if there is enough evidence, the person should be brought to justice. Handing someone over to the public is not the solution. On the contrary, it will encourage mob justice. The President should instead get to work to improve the functioning of the judicial system, restore its independence and make it more efficient”, said Carina Tertsakian.

Human rights

In his speech, the president spoke about the protection of human rights. This is a good thing, continues the researcher associated with the IDHB.

“But concretely, what has he done to protect human rights? Big speeches or the dismissal of a few local authorities are not enough. If he wants the Burundian people to believe in his promises, he should put an end to impunity that protects high-ranking authorities who have committed serious human rights violations for years. Besides, Burundi’s international partners would trust it more if some of these high authorities were brought to justice”, she concludes.

Considered by many local and foreign observers as a regression in his commitment to fight against the violation of human rights and political intolerance, President Neva’s speech was nevertheless widely appreciated by activists of the former Hutu rebellion, the CNDD-FDD, which became the ruling party in 2005, thanks to the Arusha peace and reconciliation agreement of August 2000.

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