Amnesty calls for release of anti-genocide campaigners
Burundi: Prisoners of Conscience/Detention without charge
PUBLIC AI Index: AFR 16/008/2006
UA 149/06 Prisoners of Conscience/Detention without charge 26 May
BURUNDI Thacien Sibomana (m)
Poppon Mudugu (m)
The two men named above were arrested on 21 May as they attempted to hold a monthly meeting at a local centre in the town of Gitega. They have been charged with "threatening state security" and are being held in Gitega Prison. Amnesty international considers the men to be prisoners of conscience, detained solely for the peaceful exercise of their right to freedom of assembly, association and expression.
Thacien Sibomana and Poppon Mudugu are members of "AC Genocide Crimoso", an organization which seeks to avoid any re-occurrence of genocide in Burundi by remembering the victims and engaging in open, frank discussion on the country’s history. The main delegation of the organisation met in the capital Bujumbura on 21 May and a smaller group organised a partner meeting in Gitega where they booked a room for the event at the local "Club des Amis" centre. When delegates arrived at the venue, they were prevented from entering by local police who were waiting outside the building. According to local sources, the provincial authorities had deemed the meeting to be illegal and therefore a threat to state security. "AC Genocide Crimoso" has been granted authorization to hold monthly meetings since 1997. This authorization was granted permanently by the Administrator of Gitega in December 2005.
The meeting was moved to another venue nearby but was interrupted near the end when the Governor of Gitega, the Deputy Commissioner of the Judicial Police and several police officers entered the room. They broke up the meeting and seized the agenda and minutes from Thacien Sibomana. He and Poppon Mudugu were then arrested after the meeting in a nearby bar. They were initially questioned by the Chief Prosecutor of Gitega and subsequently charged with "threatening state security". Poppon Mudugu's wife Aline Ngendankazi was also arrested, though she was later released.
Burundi, human rights, Current Affairs, Politics, Africa