Agathon Rwasa

Ce site web publie les atrocités des rebelles FNL du Burundi et mène une campagne pour traduire en justice le dirigeant des FNL, Agathon Rwasa. Nous essayons aussi de mettre à nue la question d'impunité en génerale. This website aims to highlight atrocities by the Burundian FNL rebels, and campaigns to see FNL leader Agathon Rwasa brought to justice. We also aim to highlight the issue of impunity worldwide.

Thursday, June 30, 2005

Burundian army captures FNL Child Soldiers

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Burundi army kills 15 rebels in pre-poll raids

The army had evidence suggesting that the Forces for National Liberation (FNL) were planning to disrupt the July 4 parliamentary vote, spokesman Adolphe Manirakiza said...

"The army has been chasing FNL rebels for a week in two provinces northwest and south of Burundi where the FNL is preparing attacks to disrupt the coming parliamentary polls," Manirakiza said.

"Since operations were launched, we've counted 15 rebels killed and 100 captured," he added.

Many of those captured were children recruited by the FNL over the past few weeks...

"Sometimes we capture students dressed in primary school uniforms, they tell us they have been recently enlisted by the FNL with the promise of money," he said.

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Wednesday, June 29, 2005

About this website

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The Campaign For the Prosecution of Agathon Rwasa is a network of people around the world who have lost loved ones at the hands of Palipehutu-FNL. This website was set up by the brother of Charlotte Wilson, the British aid worker murdered with her Burundian fiancé Richard Ndereyimana, and 19 others, in the December 28th 2000 "Titanic Express" bus massacre.

We're always keen to hear from others who have been affected by the FNL's campaign of violence. You can contact us in confidence at this email address:

See also: Gatumba massacre, August 13th 2004 * Who is Agathon Rwasa?

Why Agathon Rwasa?

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See also: Who is Agathon Rwasa?

Q: Why single out Agathon Rwasa? Don't all sides in Burundi have blood on their hands?

An estimated 300,000 people, mostly civilians, have died in Burundi since the current round of fighting began in 1993. Alongside the thousands of Tutsi civilians deliberately killed by Rwasa's FNL, thousands of others have been murdered by Burundi's largest rebel group, CNDD-FDD, according to human rights groups. And thousands, if not tens of thousands, of Hutu civilians have died in "reprisal attacks" by the Tutsi-dominated Burundian army.

There are a number of different versions of the "Why Rwasa?" challenge. The most radical position denies the moral and practical utility of prosecuting any of Burundi's killers. So many Hutus and Tutsis have died, the argument goes, that it would be better for the two sides just to "call it evens and move on", wiping the slate clean with some kind of general amnesty. Proponents of this view suggest that examining past atrocities can only "reopen old wounds" and lead to more conflict. Burundi's judicial system has, historically, been very selective, prosecuting those accused of killing Tutsis, but turning a blind eye to crimes against the Hutu majority, further fuelling ethnic tensions. Some argue that the issue of justice in Burundi has become so politically explosive that it is now best to leave it well alone. Some suggest that it's morally unjust to punish particular inviduals when it's never going to be practically possible to prosecute everyone who's taken part in the violence. Others suggest that it's wrong for non-Burundians to get involved in the debate. Most radical of all is the view that the world as a whole needs to "move on from retributive justice" and replace our current punishment-based judicial model with one based on people confessing their crimes and then being forgiven.

Some of these objections are easier to deal with than others - firstly, we fully agrees that all those responsible for human rights abuses in Burundi should be brought to justice, not just Rwasa. Clearly there are senior members of the Burundian army, and CNDD-FDD who must also be held accountable. We are focussing on Rwasa only because we believe that you have to start somewhere, and because we, personally, have been affected by FNL atrocities.

We also believe it's absurd to argue that if you can't prosecute every murderer you shouldn't prosecute any murderer. There is no country in the world with a 100% murder clear-up rate, so if we followed that logic to its natural conclusion, no murderers would ever be prosecuted anywhere. It's also important to look at the conflict in Burundi in the context of the interlocking ethnic conflicts across the Great Lakes Region (Burundi, Rwanda, Uganda, Democratic Republic of Congo). Rwanda's problems have been addressed by a well-funded International Criminal Tribunal; Uganda and the DRC are being assisted by the new International Criminal Court. Imperfect though these mechanisms are, they have yielded results; moral consistency would seem to demand not that Burundi's killers are allowed to go free, but rather than Burundi is given similar support to that given its neighbours in bringing the killers to justice. Under international law, every country in the world has a duty to help prosecute those guilty of war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide. We see no reason why Burundi should be the exception.

The "call it evens" argument is a particularly insidious one, premissed on a very simplistic view of Burundi's conflict. The reason it's insidious is because it assumes that a massacre of Hutus by Tutsis can somehow "cancel out" a massacre of Tutsis by Hutus. If we accept this view, we are accepting and endorsing the logic of the extremists who seek to "avenge" one massacre of innocent civilians by carrying out another massacre of innocent civilians. Yet the Hutus who get massacred are not, by and large, the ones responsible for massacres of Tutsis - and the Tutsis who get massacred are not, by and large, the ones responsible for massacres of Hutus. This is because when Hutu and Tutsi extremists attack, they tend to go for the civilians who are poor, powerless, unable to defend themselves, and unable to run away. This is one reason, for example, that such a disproportionate number of children have been killed. There have also been many instances of people being attacked by members of their own ethnic group, such as when the FNL executes Hutus who they suspect of not supporting "the cause" enthusiastically enough. The problem in Burundi is not a problem of Hutu vs Tutsi per se; it's a problem of powerful Hutu and Tutsi elites using ethnicity as a political tool. All too often, ordinary Hutus and Tutsis (and, of course, those of 'Twa' or mixed ethnicity) have suffered at the hands of the extremists in both camps. "The call it evens" argument lets the extremists off the hook, tars all Burundians with same brush, and denies justice to the ordinary Hutus and Tutsis whose only crime was to belong to the wrong ethnic group when the killers showed up. The solution to Burundi's problem is to start holding the extremists, like Agathon Rwasa, individually accountable for their actions, regardless of their ethnicity or the ethnicity of their victims.

We believe that the most powerful argument for the prosecution of Rwasa is that it will help to deter future atrocities. If Rwasa is not prosecuted, or if he is granted an amnesty, then there will be nothing to stop him, and those like him, from resorting to violence the next time they believe that they can gain some political advantage from doing so. Rather than "reopening old wounds", holding Burundi's killers individually accountable will help to defuse communal tensions by shifting the focus away from ethnicity.

It is a basic universal rule of human societies through the ages that those who commit terrible crimes must be held accountable and made to offer some form of atonement.

Disturbingly, a number of people who have chosen to involve themselves in the Burundian peace process appear to have a particular kind of agenda. These people favour amnesties, or quasi-judicial "truth commissions" as an experimental alternative to the basic, universal human model of justice, and they seem to see Burundi as fertile ground for testing out their theories.

We do not believe that it is right for Burundians to be treated as guinea pigs in this way. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights spells out, in article eight, that the victims of injustice have a right "to an effective remedy by a competent tribunal". Many of the experimental models of justice put forward as "solutions" to Burundi's problems by non-Burundian theorists do not offer anything remotely approaching an effective remedy. In fact, when you strip away the obfuscation, few of these "experimental models of justice" amount to anything more than the same old failed doctrine that letting killers of the hook might bring peace. It's failed in Burundi since 1972. We see no evidence that "one more amnesty" will do anything other than perpetuate the killing.

See also: Human Rights Watch: “Agreements based on immunity from prosecution rarely work”

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Tuesday, June 28, 2005

"Old wine in new bottles remains old"

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The Nation (Nairobi) - "Complex Burundi a Tall Order for Annan"

The current arrangement bans Mr Buyoya and Mr Ndayizeye from seeking the presidency. That's not enough. Nazi trials in Nuremberg and similar ones in Tokyo at the end of World War II weeded out some dangerous characters in Germany and Japan. Those countries aren't they way they are solely because of that. They aren't hurting either.

There's nothing to stop rotten apples from Burundi's past from sneaking into the new arrangement. There's nothing to stop them from entrenching themselves in it or even wrecking it. These are extreme scenarios, but possible. Some very shrewd characters live in Burundi.

The United Nations turned a deaf year to pleas for an international judicial commission of inquiry before elections. It's unfortunate. At least such an inquiry would have identified political undesirables. Hopefully, they would have been prevented from infiltrating the new system.

After all, old wine in new bottles remains old - if poisonous, still so.

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Monday, June 27, 2005

"The hybrid model for Burundi"

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International Justice Tribune - The hybrid model for Burundi

Burundi is to experiment transitional justice using a mixed model. On 20 June, the UN Security Council agreed to examine the recommendation made by Secretary General Kofi Annan to install a "dual mechanism to establish the facts and responsibilities" for the crimes committed in this small central-African country. Annan must now report back to the Security Council before 30 September on the cost and implications of setting up two complementary institutions - a truth commission and a special chamber within the national justice system. Each body would comprise five members, including two Burundians. The commission's investigations and hearings are expected to span the period from Independence in 1962 to the peace accords of August 2000. The special court would have the jurisdiction to try the main suspects of the most serious crimes, including the selective massacre of Hutu elites by the Tutsi army in 1972, and the mass murder of Tutsi civilians by armed Hutu groups at the end of 1993, which took place after the first elected Hutu president was assassinated by Tutsi soldiers.

See also: - Discussion: Que pensez-vous de la commision Vérité?
- "Amnesty" spectre looms as Burundi approves "Truth commission"
- 'Action Contre Genocide' questions UN Truth Commission Plans

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June 16th Muhuta church massacre - another FNL atrocity swept under the carpet?

Since the brief note ten days ago on the Reuters newswire, there's been no further coverage of the June 16th church massacre in Muhuta commune, Bujumbura-rurale. Attackers believed to be members of Palipehutu-FNL opened fire on a crowd of churchgoers, killing six people, including the pastor, and injuring seven others. Reuters euphemistically described the incident as "fighting"

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Who killed Michael Courtney?

Monsignor Courtney lying in state in BurundiOn December 29th 2003, three years and one day after the "Titanic Express" bus attack, armed assaillants in Bujumbura-rurale ambushed a car in which the papal envoy to Burundi, Mgr Michael Courtney, was travelling. Courtney, an Irish citizen, was shot three times and died shortly afterwards in hospital.

President Domitien Ndayizeye, speaking from the hospital, said: "It was an ambush. They shot to kill him."

Those who killed Monsignor Courtney would be brought to justice, the president vowed, noting that the area where he was killed was a stronghold of rebels from the National Liberation Forces (FNL).

A senior Burundian archbishop also pointed the finger at the FNL:

"The nuncio's appeals to the FNL to stop fighting and their reactions show, in my opinion, that we need not look for the culprits outside the FNL," said Burundi's most senior Catholic church official, Archbishop Ntamwana.

But the FNL has denied the accusation.

"We knew where he lived... We could have killed him if we wished. We strongly condemn those who killed him," rebel spokesman Pasteur Habimana said.

Shortly afterwards, the FNL threatened to kill Ntamawana, for accusing them of being involved in the assassination.

Eighteen months on, neither the identity of the killers, nor the motive for the attack, have been revealed. Has the world forgotten about Michael Courtney?

*Update* - From a debate in the Irish Parliament, Thursday 2nd June:

171. Mr. Durkan asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs the information on the circumstances surrounding the murder of a person (details supplied); if he has initiated new inquiries with the authorities in Burundi; if identification of the killers has been advanced to any extent; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18859/05]

Minister for Foreign Affairs (Mr. D. Ahern): Since the events of 29 December 2003, my Department has been endeavouring to establish the full circumstances of the ambush that led to Archbishop Michael Courtney’s tragic death. My predecessor, Deputy Cowen, discussed this issue on a number of occasions with both the President and Foreign Minister of Burundi, most recently on 21 September 2004, when he met the President in New York at the United Nations General Assembly. The Government was also presented in February 2004 with the results of the initial investigation conducted by the Burundian authorities. This report, which was presented simultaneously to the Holy See, was provided in confidence to the Government and to the Holy See. Ongoing contact has also been maintained throughout between my Department and the Holy See.

Arising from the investigation by the Burundian authorities, an individual, said to have suffered serious injury during the ambush that resulted in Archbishop Courtney’s murder, was arrested in February 2004. My Department has learned that the suspect has since died in custody. The Burundian authorities have assured us that they are continuing to pursue others who they believe may have been involved in the ambush but they fear that some of those concerned may have fled to a neighbouring country. The Government remains in close contact with and seeks regular updates from the Burundi authorities regarding developments in the investigation. The Burundian Government has offered assurances that they remain fully committed to taking all possible steps to bring those responsible to justice. The Government will continue to urge that all efforts are made by the Burundian authorities to apprehend those responsible for the Archbishop’s murder. I also will seriously consider the issue of official representation, in the event that any trial eventually takes place.

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Friday, June 24, 2005

Discussion: Que pensez-vous de la commision Vérité?

Selon Venant Bamoneyeho, président d’Action contre le génocide, le Burundi ne saurait tirer profit ni de la commission mixte ni du tribunal spécial.

« Ce tribunal spécial n’a été institué dans aucun autre pays. Pourquoi fonctionnerait-il au Burundi? », a-t-il déclaré.

La commission Vérité aurait été appropriée au Burundi si des actes de génocides n’avaient pas été commis, a-t-il ajouté.

Action contre le génocide a lancé plusieurs appels auprès de l’ONU pour qu’une commission d’enquête judiciaire internationale soit créée avant les élections générales au Burundi, afin d’empêcher toute personne ayant pris part aux génocides de s’y présenter.

Bamboneyeho a affirmé qu’il était dangeureux de mettre sur pied une chambre spéciale alors que des élections sont déjà en cours.

Que pensez-vous de la commission Vérité? Dites-nous vos avis!

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"Action Contre Genocide" questions UN Truth Commission plans

Mail and Guardian Online - Truth Commission For Burundi

The commission and special court will classify the types of crimes and identify perpetrators.

[Justice Minister] Kiganahe said those who sought forgiveness would be accorded a chance to defend themselves.

The commission’s findings would help the special chamber, also three international and two Burundian judges, to prosecute crimes committed in 1972 when the minority Tutsi massacred Hutus and in 1993 when the majority Hutu killed Tutsis. The 1993 deaths followed the assassination of the first democratically elected Hutu president, Melchior Ndadaye.

Kiganahe said the presence of international commissioners and judges would lend fairness to the conclusions of the truth commission and to the special chamber for both the Hutu and Tutsi.

However, the chairperson of the Action Contre le Genocide (Action Against Genocide or AC Genocide), Venant Bamboneyeho said neither the commission nor the chamber would be helpful. “That special chamber has not been created anywhere else, why will it work for Burundi?”

AC Genocide has made several appeals to the UN to set up an international judicial commission of inquiry before the holding of general elections in Burundi to ensure that those implicated did not take part in the polls.

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Burundi journalist freed

Committee to Protect Journalists: In Burundi, journalist who said president ‘depressed’ is freed on bail

Radio and online journalist Etienne Ndikuriyo was released on bail today after spending more than a week in jail for writing a story about the health of President Domitien Ndayizeye. Criminal charges are pending, and he has been ordered to report to a judge once a week, according to his lawyer, Gabriel Sinarinzi.

“I am very happy to be out of prison,” Ndikuriyo told CPJ in a telephone interview from Bujumbura. “If my colleagues here and all around the world had not supported me so strongly, I don’t think I would be out now.” He said he was in good health and had already returned to work.

See also: Free Etienne Ndikuriyo

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Thursday, June 23, 2005

Forum: Memoriale aux victimes du massacre "Titanic Express"

Le 28 Décembre 2005 sera etre le cinquieme commémoration du massacre "Titanic Express". Nous qui ont perdu nos freres, soeurs, fils, filles et amis dans cette attaques ont beaucoup des mémoires affectueuses. Cette section du website est pour souvenir nos amis qui etaient tués dans cette attaque. Pour écrire vos souvenirs, cliquez ici.


This website is managed by Richard Wilson, whose sister Charlotte, a British aid worker, was killed with her fiancé Richard Ndereyimana and 19 other civilians by FNL forces in the December 28th 2000 "Titanic Express" massacre, and whose book of the same name tells the story of the attack and its aftermath. Contributions are also gratefully acknowledged from "Action Contre Genocide" and a number of others who wish to remain anonymous for fear of reprisals.

Frequently asked questions

See also: Why Agathon Rwasa?

Q: Who is Agathon Rwasa?

Agathon Rwasa assumed leadership of the Burundian rebel group Palipehutu-FNL (commonly known simply as "FNL"), in the spring of 2001, after deposing the group's previous leader, Cossan Kabura. Prior to that time he was the FNL "chief of operations" around the Burundian capital Bujumbura. The FNL is a Hutu-extremist group linked to the milita who carried out the 1994 Rwandan genocide.

Forces under Rwasa's command have been implicated in a systematic campaign of attacks on civilians, both Tutsis and moderate Hutus. One consistent tactic has been the ambushing of civilian vehicles on the roads around the Bujumbura. The largest of these attacks was the December 28th 2000 massacre of passengers travelling on the "Titanic Express" bus. Six of the 21 victims were children. The dead also included several Rwandan students and a professor from the University of Butare, a pregnant woman, and a British aid worker, Charlotte Wilson. Hutu passengers were released unharmed - one with a chilling message for the Burundian government - "We're going to kill them all and there's nothing you can do". Although the Titanic Express massacre received widespread international news coverage, it was merely the largest among many similar attacks, most unreported outside of Burundi.

The FNL's Tutsi victims are often tortured before they are killed. One common method is the cutting of of the victim's nose, the shape of the nose being deemed to be one of the distinguishing features between Hutu and Tutsi.

The Hutu population in the FNL stronghold of "Bujumbura Rurale" (the hilly province which surrounds the Burundian capital) has also suffered extensively. Rwasa's forces have been ruthless in their treatment of Hutus suspected of cooperating with the Burundian government, and those who have refused actively to support the FNL. Reprisal killings and torture have been common. Even among the FNL's own ranks, Rwasa's reign has been brutal. Following an attempt on Rwasa's life in May 2002, one of Rwasa's lieutenants, Anicet Ntawuhiganayo, was reported to have been starved to death.

Rwasa's FNL has also been implicated in the recruitment of child soldiers. In July 2003, scores of children were killed after being sent by the FNL to attack Burundian government positions in Bujumbura. One child who survived reported being told by the FNL that an amulet he had been given would protect him from bullets. Photographs of the dead child soldiers showed several of them clutching amulets. An FNL sympathiser in Canada later claimed that his organisation had scored an important propaganda victory by forcing the Burundian government to kill children.

The most notorious FNL atrocity in recent years was the August 13th 2004 Gatumba massacre, in which 152 Congolese Tutsi refugees were shot, hacked and burned to death. The FNL claimed responsibility for the attack the following day, asserting that they had no fear of brought to account because the international community was powerless to do anything about it. They have since backtracked from this admission. Following the massacre, the international community announced a series of sanctions, and the Burundian government issued arrest warrants for Agathon Rwasa and the FNL spokesman, Pasteur Habimana. Yet when the FNL leader recently appeared in public for the first time, no attempt was made to arrest him.

The abuses committed by the FNL have not been the aberrations of a few "bad apples"; they have been central to the way that the organisation does business. As the leader of a group implicated in numerous war crimes, crimes against humanity and, arguably, genocide, Agathon Rwasa has a serious case to answer.


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It's never too late for justice

Italy convicts former SS officers

Italy has sentenced 10 German former Nazi officers to life imprisonment for their role in a World War II massacre of 560 civilians in an Italian village.
The defendants, all in their 80s, were tried in absentia in a military tribunal in the port town of La Spezia.

The court heard that the killings in the Tuscan village of Sant'Anna di Stazzema had been premeditated.

The jury took seven hours to reach a verdict on the August 1944 massacre, one of Italy's worst war crimes.

If the 560 victims of Sant'Anna di Stazzema can have justice, more than sixty years on, why has Burundi's August 2004 Gatumba massacre already been forgotten?

Human Rights Watch Report on Gatumba massacre
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Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Free Etienne Ndikuriyo!

Independent Burundian radio journalist Etienne Ndikuriyo was arrested on June 13th, after he wrote an article which displeased Burundi's President Ndayizeye. He has not been charged with any crime. The free media in Burundi is small, but the country's journalists have mobilised to demand Ndikuriyo's immmediate unconditional release. To support their call, follow this link:

Take action - sign the Abarundi petition to release Etienne Ndikuriyo!

Monday, June 20, 2005

Impunity kills - Burundi election candidates murdered in grenade attack

BURUNDI: Violence, tension as parliamentary poll campaigns get under way

A woman and the two candidates, members of President Domitien Ndayizeye's FRODEBU party, died in a grenade blast on Saturday in a bar in Kamenge neighbourhood, in the northern part of the capital. They were from a political rally.

FRODEBU Secretary-General Léonce Ngendakumana said the attackers targeted his party's supporters.

"We were informed that something was in preparation but did not know where and when it would take place," Ngendakumana said.

He added supporters of FRODEBU were being intimidated across the country. He did not name those behind the alleged intimidation...

There is high tension between FRODEBU and the CNDD-FDD political party - former rebel movement that won recent communal elections by a majority - with the FRODEBU accusing its rival of using terrorism and intimidation to get votes. FRODEBU came second in the communal elections.

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Saturday, June 18, 2005

Impunity kills - six Burundian churchgoers murdered in cold blood as Burundi parliament agrees plans for an amnesty

On Thursday 16th June, the Burundian government approved plans to offer an amnesty to self-confessed murderers, as part of a scheme described as a "Truth and reconciliation commission". The move was hailed by representatives of the "international community":

"...while the natural urge of many people is to seek revenge against those who killed loved ones, the TRC must balance establishing the truth and amnesty for those who publicly testified about their criminal actions", South African lawyer Richard Lyster was quoted as saying.

On Friday 17th June, just days after promising to end all hostilities, members of the Burundian Hutu extremist FNL walked into a church in the Muhuta district of Bujumbura-rurale, and massacred six of the congregation.

And why shouldn't they, when they know that they can get themselves off the hook by shedding crocodile tears on camera a few years down the line? What kind of "peace process" turns a blind eye to the fact that the killings haven't stopped? One wonders what the likes of Richard Lyster would say to the families of those who lost their lives in yesterday's carnage.

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Friday, June 17, 2005

Six die as Rwasa's FNL massacres churchgoers

Reuters Alertnet: Eight killed in Burundi fighting -army

"The first criminal attack was committed in one church at Muhuta district where a group of FNL fighters fired in the church and killed six people including a pastor. They also injured seven others," [army spokesman] Manirakiza said.

He said the rebels shot dead a local government official and his brother and also kidnapped a policeman in the same district.

"We don't know yet why these people were killed, they may be executed because they refused to adhere to the FNL ideology, as the area where they have been killed is an FNL stronghold."

Just days after a second promise to end all hostilities, the FNL has attacked civilians yet again. Will the UN speak out against this latest massacre, or will it be dismissed as nothing more than another "shooting incident"?

It's also interesting that the Reuters headline for this news was "Eight killed in Burundi fighting". In what sense does walking into a church and murdering six people, then going out and killing two more, constitute "fighting"?

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"Amnesty" spectre looms as Burundi approves "Truth commission"

Burundi Approves Truth and Reconciliation Commission Plan

The government of Burundi has endorsed a UN plan to set up a truth and reconciliation commission as part of the country’s peace process...

The UN Security Council now needs to pass a resolution backing a TRC in Burundi, as well as a special court to prosecute war crimes or human rights violations.

One of the most successful truth and reconciliation commissions operated in South Africa in the mid-90’s, following the end of apartheid. Richard Lyster is a former TRC commissioner and a human rights attorney in South Africa. From Durban, he spoke to English to Africa reporter Joe De Capua about the difficulties in setting up such a commission...

The human rights attorney says while the TRC knew in advance what the testimony would be of those who told story of human rights abuses, it was important for witnesses and the country to share in a ‘cathartic’ event.

Also, while the natural urge of many people is to seek revenge against those who killed loved ones, the TRC must balance establishing the truth and amnesty for those who publicly testified about their criminal actions.

See also: -“Agreements based on immunity from prosecution rarely work”
- Pictures from the Gatumba massacre, August 13th 2004
Wikipedia entry on Gatumba

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Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Election disrupted as Rwasa's FNL shells Bujumbura - again

Burundi re-votes jeopardized by overnight rebel attacks in capital

Overnight attacks in and around Bujumbura by Burundi's lone remaining rebel group put scheduled Tuesday re-votes for key local elections on hold in six violence-hit districts, officials said.

The strikes blamed on the National Liberation Forces (FNL) included shelling over several Bujumbura neighborhoods and several attacks on government positions on the outskirts of the capital, the army said.

No lives were claimed but property damage was reported and polling stations in Bujumbura Rural and Buganza provinces -- on the periphery of the capital -- where re-voting had been set to begin Tuesday morning remain closed, officials said.

"The FNL shelled several districts of the capital (Monday) night," said army spokesman Adolphe Manirakiza. "At the same time, they attacked several military positions on the outskirts. Up to now, there is only property damage."

He told AFP that the attacks appeared aimed at scaring voters away from the polling stations where the re-votes were planned following early closures due to violence in the initial elections last week.

"We think that they are shootings of intimidation to prevent the population from going to vote," Manirakiza said.

These latest attacks show once again that the international community's "softly softly" approach to Rwasa's FNL is an abject failure. Only by bringing Rwasa to account can the violence by brought to an end.

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Saturday, June 04, 2005

Amnesty International and International Crisis Group on the Titanic Express Massacre

Amnesty International - Between Hope and Fear: On 28 December, passengers on the Kigali - Bujumbura bus were forced off the bus at Mageyo some 15km from Bujumbura by members of an armed group, believed to be the FNL. Twenty one of the 30 passengers died in the attack, at least 10 of whom were robbed, forced to lie down and summarily executed. The motive of the attack may have been the alleged failure of the driver, Pascal, who was amongst those killed, to contribute sufficiently to the FNL. Others killed included Charlotte Wilson, a British aid worker in Rwanda, Audace Ndayisaba, Richard Notereyimana, Aline Nzeyimana, Ibrahima, Innocent, Florence Hagatura and Nzeyimana. The FNL have denied responsibility for the attack.

International Crisis Group - Burundi: Breaking the Deadlock: Explaining the obvious change in attitude of Agathon Rwasa’s FNL is difficult. The same troops have implemented terrorist operations, such as shooting up a Sabena airliner landing at Bujumbura, a bloody attack on the bus, Titanic, connecting Kigali to the capital of Burundi in December 2000, and numerous other massacres of civilians over the last few years, when they were, in fact, under the order of the same Agathon Rwasa...

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Friday, June 03, 2005

UN flip-flops on Burundi - again

"We want to know the truth. The United Nations and the international community will not tolerate war crimes anymore. Any individual, any group responsible for war crimes will be held accountable for its acts" - UN's Burundi office 26/5/05

"The FNL rebels and the national army are accusing each other of attacks. We are not interested in who is right..." - UN's Burundi office, 31/5/05

Last week the UN's Burundi office demanded an investigation into mortar attacks that wounded five in the suburbs of the capital Bujumbura on Tuesday night, and recent reports of summary executions in Bujumbura Rural province, a stronghold of the rebel Hutu Forces for National Liberation (FNL)...

But this week, the UN's Burundi office had magically transformed those "war crimes" into nothing more than "shooting incidents":

"We have had a few shooting incidents recently in and around capital... The FNL [Forces nationales de liberation] rebels and the national army are accusing each other of attacks. We are not interested in who is right, we just want the fighting to stop."

With the UN, yet again, dithering over what to do about the FNL, is it any wonder that the killers are carrying on their business as usual?

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Thursday, June 02, 2005

New UN resolution repeats condemnation of Gatumba - but where's the action?

Relief Web - Security Council extends UN Operation in Burundi until 1 December, unanimously adopting resolution 1602 (2005)

“...Reiterating its strong condemnation of the Gatumba massacre of 13 August 2004, and its commitment that perpetrators of such crimes, as well as all persons responsible for violations of human rights and international humanitarian law, be brought to justice..."

The UN has restated its commitment to justice over Gatumba, yet their investigation into the massacre has been effectively suspended. Double standards?

Take action - Fax your MP!
Take action - sign the Gatumba petition