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.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

"Burundi President tells a strange story"


Chege Mbitiru

Burundi has been in the news lately. Unfortunately the reasons aren't good. Some are bizarre. Hopefully, these aren't signs of another round of blood-letting.

President Pierre Nkurunziza told a strange tale on July 3.

The state radio reported him accusing unnamed politicians of plotting his overthrow. He said the plotters were known to police and military. The president effused magnanimity. He said he was trying to talk them out of bad ways. Apparently the sweet talk didn't work. Nearly a month later, police made arrests, including an ex-vice president. A week today, quite a wait, police got their big catch: former President Domitien Ndayizeye.

Media reports indicate Mr Nkurunziza and his security chief are pleased with the crackdown. The government is safe.

But, presidents don't go on radio and tell coup plotters "I know you" and then sweet talk them into reforming. Nor do intelligence chiefs give coup plotters time to refine plots. Moreover, coup plotters aren't so dumb as to sit around and wait to be rounded up, not even in Burundi.

On Thursday, the suspects, including Mr Ndayizeye, appeared in court. Journalists were locked out. Three radio stations got a scoop. The key witness in the alleged plot, Mr Alain Mugabarabona, gave a jailhouse interview. He was tortured to tell lies, he said.

Things weren't adding up for the government. Fairness though awards it the benefit of doubt. Mr Nkurunziza looked at his options and decided to sweet talk alleged plotters first. The alleged plotters were over confident. Any of these scenarios are implausible. Something is afoot.

Political indicators were that Burundi was headed to normalcy following the October 2001 formation of a transitional government. Tanzania's late President Julius Nyerere and former South Africa President Nelson Mandela deserve credit.

The two leaders painstakingly - Mr Mandela reportedly overbearing sometime - got Tutsi hardliners to acknowledge periodic butchery of majority Hutus wasn't a viable form of governance and Hutus to see vengeance was counterproductive.

The result was a complicated government structure to ensure power-sharing between the minority Tutsis - who have always dominated all aspects of Burundi's life since independence, in 1962, from Belgium - and majority Hutus.

The balance of power is such that the commander of the 5,600-strong UN peace force, Major General Derrick Ngwebi, last week didn't think a coup was sustainable.

As leader of the largest armed Hutu rebel group, the Forces for Defence of Democracy, the FDD, President Nkurunziza initially held out together with Mr Agathon Rwasa's Forces for National Liberation, the FNL. In 2003, Mr Ndayizeye and Mr Nkurunziza, both Hutus, patched up things. An end to the latest round of bloodletting that began in 1993 and has claimed some 300,000 lives appeared around the corner.

After all, the latest Tutsi military coup-maker, President Pierre Buyoya, had stepped down on schedule. Mr Ndayizeye took over as planned. A year ago, Mr Nkurunziza became president after FDD's electoral victory. The United Nations talked of reducing its force.

However, the FNL continued fighting, despite Mr Nkurunziza's overtures. The president's response was a military offensive. His explanation in December was "the FNL no longer has a reason to fight."

Certainly! Other than Mr Rwasa's ego, there's precious little for FNL to fight for. Some of its demands, like the disbanding of the army, are outright silly and indicative of its leaders' political immaturity. Unfortunately, the offensive against the FNL brought back the old nasty habits in security forces. Last November the New York-based Human Rights Watch accused the forces of summary executions and torture of civilians suspected of being FNL collaborators.

At the same time, Mr Ndayizeye's party, Frodebu, expressed similar views. Mr Ismail Diallo, a UN human rights official in Burundi, was blunt. The human rights situation in Burundi was "catastrophic", he said.

Things seem to have only got worse. Early this month, 10 human rights organisations in Burundi demanded the government halts inhumane and degrading treatment of individuals suspected of the alleged coup plot. Last Wednesday, it emerged seven people were last month taken from police custody to a military camp and later found dead and thrown into a river.

On the same day, Ms Francoise Ngendahayo, human rights minister, said she had seen aftermaths of beatings of detainees in prison. Government spokesperson, Mr Ramadhan Karenga, issues denials. Too many people and organizations can't tell lies all the time.

Complexities in Burundi's politics are out of proportion, considering the country's size and population. Undoubtedly, Mr Nkurunziza has enemies galore and need to fight for political survival. It would be na?ve also to assume diehard Tutsis aren't plotting the fall of a Hutu-led government.

On the other hand, for Mr Nkurunziza adopts nasty tactics, which most Burundians and people in the region are fed up with and will only discredit him and take the country back to the dark days. That's the message regional leaders should deliver to Mr Nkurunziza.

Mr Mbitiru is a freelance journalist.

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Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Associated Press negationist over Burundi killings?

A series of reports by Aloys Niyoyita of the Associated Press news agency have attempted to downplay the reality of Burundi's ethnically-motivated killings since 1993. Niyoyita has repeatedly claimed that most of the several hundred thousand civilians killed in Burundi "died from disease and hunger", making no mention of the ethnic massacres that have plagued the country in recent years.

Niyoyita also states the resulting death toll as "more than 250,000", where most sources put the figure at 300,000.

Niyoyita's claim that most of those killed in Burundi died through "disease and hunger" looks decidedly odd when compared with the information presented by human rights groups and other mainstream news outlets.

A number of sources state that 150,000 Burundians were deliberately killed in ethnic massacres between 1993 and 1996 alone. For example:

"In the past three years, more than 150,000 Burundians have been victims of massacres" - CNN, July 22 1996:

"The human rights abuses suffered by refugees who have been forced back to Burundi form part of a continuing pattern of atrocities taking place in the country, which has seen more than 150,000 men, women and children killed since 1993.", - Amnesty International, 21 November 1996

Most reports also now put the current death toll at significantly more than 250,000, eg:

"within months Ndadaye had been assassinated, setting the scene for years of Hutu-Tutsi violence in which an estimated 300,000 people, most of them civilians, were killed." - BBC, 18 July 2006

"In 1993, it plunged into all-out civil war in which some 300,000 people were killed" - Reuters Alertnet, undated:

"It is estimated that, since 1993, the hostilities have claimed between 250,000 and 300,000 lives, mostly civilians.", United Nations, December 2003

The Associated Press has declined to comment on Niyoyita's reports, or the basis for his claim that most of Burundi's victims have died from disease or hunger rather than being deliberately killed.

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Saturday, August 19, 2006

Van Eck calls for clarification over alleged SA involvement in "fake" coup

From SA Mail and Guardian

Claims that two South Africans -- one working for the country’s embassy in Bujumbura and the other an intelligence agent from Pretoria -- have been involved in concocting a fake coup in Burundi resurfaced this week.

Fifteen opposition leaders, including a former vice-president and army officials, were accused at the end of last month of plotting a coup against Pierre Nkurunziza’s almost year-old Burundian government.

Only eight men were arrested and are still in detention amid continuing allegations by human rights groups of torture.

Well-placed sources this week maintained that the South African agents worked with Burundi’s internal intelligence agency to organise what they called a “fake” coup.

An analyst at the Institute for Security Studies in Pretoria, Jan van Eck, who has been deeply involved as a peace broker in the tiny central African state, told the Mail & Guardian that it is “critically important for South Africa’s record in the rest of Africa and its role as a peacemaker in Africa for this allegation to be proven wrong”.

One of the men who was initially arrested, but later released, Alexis Sinduhije, respected journalist and owner of an independent radio station, Radio Publique Africaine (RPA), also confirmed the allegations about the two South African agents.

Department of Foreign Affairs spokesperson Ronnie Mamoepa this week said the department was not investigating allegations of South African involvement and denied being aware of any such allegations. “We have not received any such complaints. Therefore your questions are not valid.”

Van Eck has called the coup allegations, made by Burundi’s ruling National Council for Defence of Democracy and Force for the Defence of Democracy (CNDD-FDD), “bizarre”.

“If I look at the politicians who were arrested it is very unlikely that people with diverse political views should plot together,” he said. “The evidence has to be shown surrounding the people arrested, it must be produced urgently to prevent growing speculation that this is an attempt to crush the opposition.”

Sinduhije said he believed that CNDD-FDD party leader Hussein Radjabu was the “mastermind” behind the “false” coup plot. He concurred with Van Eck, saying its aim was to silence the opposition to cover up large-scale government corruption.

Sinduhije explained his presence on the list of coup plotters as being a result of his radio station exposing government corruption and human rights abuse. He further claimed that Radjabu had boasted that South African agents “have a deal with him to help him gather intelligence and assist him in all strategic intelligence”.

Radjabu could not be reached for comment.

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AC Genocide statement on Gatumba

IL Y A 18 ANS, le groupe terroriste PALIPEHUTU-FNL lançait ses premières massacres à grande échelle contre la minorité tutsi. C'était au nord-est du Burundi, dans les communes de Ntega et Marangara, quand, à partir du 14 aout 1988 et dans les semaines qui ont suivi, des milliers de tutsi innocents furent massacrés sélectivement par cette organisation terroriste

En ce jour de triste commémoration, L'Antenne Régionale de Toronto d'AC-Génocide Canada se joint aux rescapés de ce massacre du PALIPEHUTU-FNL pour honorer la mémoire des victimes du carnage de Ntega et Marangara. Nous prières vont aussi aux autres victimes des atrocités du même groupe terroriste PALIPEHUTU-FNL de toute la région des Grands Lacs est-africains. En effet, les crimes de ce groupe terroriste sans foi ni loi et de surcroit impuni et arrogant, vont au delà des frontières: nous pensons ici aux 152 refugiés tutsi banyamulenge massacrés par le groupe terroriste PAPLIPEHUTU-FNL dans la nuit du 13 aout 2004 dans leur camp de Gatumba.

Cette double commémoration est d'autant plus triste si on considère le peu d'attention que la communauté internationale en tête de laquelle l'ONU a fait montre presque toutes les fois qu'il s'agit d'un problème ayant trait aux atrocités commises contre la minorité tutsi:

- Quand en octobre 1988, le Gouvernement du Burundi dirigé par pierre Buyoya a accordé l'amnistie aux personnes accusées de génocide contre la minorité tutsi dans les communes de Ntega et Marangara, aucune voix discordante ne s'est élevée aux Nations Unies . Cependant, tous les signataires doivent prévoir des sanctions pénales efficaces frappant les personnes coupables de génocide [1]

- En aout 2004 , encouragé par son immunité acquis indument 16 ans auparavant sans qu'il n'en ait même pas fait la demande, le PALIPEHUTU-FNL a récidivé et a tout de suite revendiqué la responsabilité son forfait -- comme s'il avait peur d'être dévancé par une des autres organisations génocidaires qui pullulent dans la sous-région. Le crime a eu lieu à moins d'un 1 km du campement des forces onusiennes stationnées au Burundi, mais elles n'ont rien fait pour aider les victimes.

L'Antenne Régionale de Toronto d'AC-Génocide Canada rappelle à toute la communauté internationale que c'est le carnage de Ntega et Marangara et que nous commémorons aujourd'hui, qui a lancé les bases de l'impunité du crime de génocide, impunité qui rime toujours avec le Burundi. Par voie de conséquence, le jeu politique burundais ne pouvait plus être correct. Le pays est gouverné par une organisation qui commet le génocide depuis 12 ans, et même le Chef de l'Etat est un criminel ayant été condamné à mort pour crimes contre l'humanité

L'Antenne Régionale de Toronto d'AC-Génocide Canada considère qu'il est grand temps que tous ceux qui ont commandité et/ou dirigé les massacres génocidaires et autres crimes contre l'humanité au Burundi, qu'ils soient du PALIPEHUTU-FNL ou de toute autre organisation, répondent de leurs actes. L'Antenne Régionale de Toronto d'AC-Génocide Canada compte beaucoup sur l'ONU pour cette opération. Néanmoins, si elle continue à ignorer les crimes commis par des burundais en arguant qu'ils tenaient à des mobiles politiques, la même ONU fera bien de vite ordonner la libération de prison de Charles Taylor et Saddam Hussein.

L'Antenne Régionale de Toronto d'AC-Génocide Canada, soucieuse de ne pas pratiquer le « deux-poids, deux mesures » qui a toujours été synonyme de la communauté internationale dans toutes ses interventions relatives au génocide contre la minorité tutsi du Burundi :

1. appelle à l'arrestation immédiate des leaders du PALIPEHTU-FNL pour les atrocités qu'ils ont commises aux cours de ces dernières décennies en général, et pour avoir préparé et exécuté le génocide de tutsi à Ntega et Marangara dans la deuxième moitié du mois d'aout 1988 ;

2. exige qu'on applique au PALIPEHUTU-FNL, de même qu'à ses partenaires et allies d'hier (le FRODEBU, CNDD, FDD, etc.) le même traitement que celui qu'on réservé au NADSP allemand (plus connu sous le nom NAZI) et le MRND(D) rwandais

3. Demande encore une fois à la communauté internationale de prendre une attitude conséquente et appropriée envers le régime actuel burundais qui est dirigé par l'organisation génocidaire CNDD-FDD, dont le dossier des droit de l'homme est on ne peut plus sombre et qui vient d'être empiré par ses récentes arrestations illégales et les tortures infligées à certains hommes politiques et quelques officiers de l'armée.

L'Antenne Régionale de Toronto d'AC-Génocide Canada demande enfin:

- A l'ONU: d'aider à l'arrestation et au jugement des personnes accusées de génocide et d'autres crimes contre l'humanité au Burundi, en tête desquelles Agathon Rwasa du PALIPEHUTU –FNL et Leonard Nyangoma, deux criminels dont les mandats d'arrêt ont été émises il y a belle luerette sans jamais être exécutés.

- Au Royaume Uni: de tenir ses engagements à ne jamais permettre qu'aucune sorte d'amnistie ne soit accordée à Agathon Rwasa

- Au Gouvernement of de la République Unie de Tanzania : de noter, ne serait-ce qu'au vu de ces quelques crimes commis par le groupe terroriste PALIPEHUTU-FNL, que ce dernier n'a rien d'un mouvement de libération, qu'il s'agit plutôt d'un groupe de tueurs génocidaires;

- Aux pays membres de l'Initiative Régionale de Paix pour le Burundi: de constater qu'en dépit de leur acceptation progressive du groupe terroriste PALIPEHUTU-FNL comme une force politique, que ce dernier reste une organisation terroriste au même titre que ses alliés et partenaires d'hier et qui sont aujourd'hui au pouvoir à Bujumbura, à savoir le CNDD-FDD. En effet, aucun de ces deux organisations n'a jamais dénoncé, condamné ou renoncé officiellement à l'accord de coopération qu'ils ont signé le 22 mai 1995 à Bukavu (RDC) avec d'autres groupes génocidaires comme les ex-FAR et les miliciens Interahamwe, et dont l'objectif était de conquérir le Rwanda une fois qu'ils auraient « libéré » le Burundi [2]

- Aux burundais pris entre les feux croisés de l'oppression des génocidaires du CNDD-FDD au pouvoir d'une part, des bombardements, viol, mutilations et racket du groupe terroriste PALIPEHUTU –FNL d'autre part : nous rappelons que rien de ses atrocités ne peut changer le génocide en une voie de conquête du pouvoir

- Au reste de la population mondiale: nous leur demandons d'aider leurs frères du Burundi que l'ONU semble avoir donnés en cadeau aux organisations terroristes et génocidaires CNDD-FDD et PALIPEHUTU-FNL , même si cette même ONU est censée être leur protecteur.

Fait à Toronto, le 14 aout 2005.

Pour l'Antenne Régionale de Toronto d'AC-Génocide Canada,

Emmanuel Nkurunziza


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Friday, August 18, 2006

Amnesty calls for justice over Itaba and Gatumba

From Amnesty International

Public Statement

AI Index: AFR 16/014/2006 (Public)
News Service No: 217
18 August 2006

Burundi: From Itaba to Gatumba -- an imperative need for justice
This period of the year marks the remembrance of the massacre of civilians in Burundi at Itaba and Gatumba. On 9 September 2002 between 173 and 267 people were killed at Itaba and on 13 August 2004 at least 160 were massacred at Gatumba.

Amnesty International is gravely concerned that the government of Burundi, in violation of both national and international law, has so far failed to fully investigate and prosecute people suspected of carrying out the mass killings and ensure the victims receive adequate reparations.

On the night of 13 August 2004, more than 160 Congolese refugees were systematically killed at the Gatumba refugee camp, near the Congolese border. The victims were predominantly children and women members of Banyamulenge community who were fleeing from South Kivu (DRC). The Palipehutu-FNL (Forces Nationales de Libération -- National Liberation Forces) claimed responsibility for the massacre a fews day after the attack. According to information received from the Banyamulenge community as well as interviews carried out with former Palipehutu-FNL combatants, other armed political groups from the Democratic Republic of Congo may too have been involved in the killings.

On 9 September 2002 between 173 and 267 unarmed civilians, many of them women and children, were deliberately and unlawfully killed by Burundian army forces in Itaba, a community in the province of Gitega. Burundian authorities initially claimed that the victims had been killed in crossfire between the army and the CNDD-FDD. However, as more details came to light, it became clear that the army was solely responsible for the killing

Amnesty International is also concerned that the families of the victims and the survivors of these massacres may not see those responsible brought to justice.

On 5 October 2004, a United Nations report into the Gatumba massacre recommended that the Security Council encourage the immediate initiation of national and international judicial proceedings to ensure that the planners and perpetrators of the killings are identified, prosecuted and brought to justice. This report recommended also that the government of Burundi be encouraged to immediately invoke the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court. Despite the issue of two arrest warrants for the head of the Palipehutu-FNL, Agathon Rwasa, and its spokesperson, Pasteur Habimana, a few days after their movement had claimed the responsibility for this massacre, and a statement from the Minister of Justice, on 13 April 2005, announcing that a national investigation had been completed into the Gatumba massacre, no official report has yet been issued by the government and none of the persons suspected of the crime have yet been prosecuted.

On 22 February 2003, two soldiers involved in the Itaba massacre were convicted by a military court of failing to follow orders and breaching public solidarity. The charge of murder was dropped. The military prosecutor had reportedly argued that as civilians had been given the order to leave the area whenever combatants were present, those who stayed behind were correctly considered as combatants.

International human rights law and standards oblige Burundi to conduct prompt, independent and impartial investigations into violations of the right to life. Furthermore, the Basic Principles and Guidelines on the right to a remedy and reparations for gross violations of international human rights law and serious violations of international humanitarian law, adopted by the General Assembly of United Nations in 16 December 2005, give victims the right to 'equal and effective access to justice; adequate, effective and prompt reparation for harm suffered; and access to relevant information concerning violations and reparation mechanisms'. Under these principles and guidelines, reparations can include restitution, compensation, rehabilitation, satisfaction and guarantees of non-repetition.

Amnesty International urges the government to put in force the law of 8 May 2003, which criminalizes genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes. Under this law Burundi ought to exercise its jurisdiction to investigate and prosecute those suspected of involvement of such crimes, in trials that respect international standards of fairness and do not impose the death penalty.

If Burundi fails to do so, Amnesty International, echoing the recommendations of the United Nations report into Gatumba, calls for the Burundi government to immediately invoke the International Criminal Court's jurisdiction (ICC). Further, as a state party to the Rome statute of ICC since 21 September 2004, Burundi must introduce implementing legislation to ensure full cooperation with the ICC.

Amnesty International stressed that justice still needs to be done for the survivors and the family of the victims of Gatumba and Itaba, but also for all victims of human rights abuses and violations throughout Burundi.

Background information
Over the last months, the Burundi government's intentions and efforts at ending impunity have been ambiguous. On 26 February 2006, a United Nations mission visited Burundi to initiate talks with the Burundian authorities on the modalities of setting up two accountability mechanisms -- a truth and reconciliation commission and special chamber -- to investigate crimes committed in Burundi and bring to justice those responsible. So far, apart from exchanges of letters, concrete outcomes have failed to materialise.

On the other hand, on 18 June 2006, in Dar es Salaam, the government and FNL signed an agreement of principles towards lasting peace, security and stability in Burundi. Article 1 of this agreement states that the truth and reconciliation commission (not yet established) will be renamed the "Truth, Pardon and Reconciliation Commission". Its mandate will consist of establishing the facts surrounding the dark period of Burundi history and establishing various protagonists' responsibilities with a view to achieving forgiveness and national reconciliation.

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Thursday, August 17, 2006

Burundi jails anti-corruption campaigner

BUJUMBURA (Reuters) - Burundi has jailed the head of an anti-corruption group, accusing him of giving false reports that the central African nation's authorities were involved in embezzlement, the detainee's lawyer said on Thursday.

The case comes amid criticism from rights groups that President Pierre Nkurunziza's government is increasingly cracking down on freedom of expression a year after it took power.

Gabriel Rufyiri, chairman of the Organisation for the Fight Against Corruption and Economic Embezzlement (OLUCOME), was sent to prison late on Wednesday after appearing before a judge.

OLUCOME earlier this year had publicly denounced the sale of 1,500 tonnes of beans and 1,800 barrels of palm oil to Burundi's national police, saying it was full of irregularities.

The group said some of the sellers were fictitious and that the businessman who sold the products had done so at much higher prices, costing the state nearly $300,000.

"The judge has violated procedure because he had not yet carried out any inquiries to know if the irregularities denounced by the anti-corruption group were true or false," Rufyiri's lawyer Prosper Niyoyankana told Reuters.

"He should have at least some indications of guilt before jailing Mr Rufyiri," Niyoyankana, also OLUCOME general-secretary, added.

Government and police officials were not immediately available for comment.

Burundi is tasting relative peace for the first time since 1993, when the assassination of its first democratically elected Hutu president by Tutsi paratroopers sparked a cycle of ethnic reprisals that killed 300,000 people over 12 years.


Niyoyankana said the arrest was sending a clear message.

"This is a strategy of intimidating people who reveal cases of corruption and economic embezzlement. We demand the government release the head of the group immediately and without any conditions," he said.

In a separate case, OLUCOME was one of 20 civil society groups to ask the government this month to re-run the sale of the presidential plane, saying controversy over the transaction could lead donors to suspend aid.

The groups said the sale was done too quickly and that the government had not accepted the highest bid, losing $2 million.

The government has said the sale was legitimate.

Finance Minister Dieudonne Ngowembona, in charge of the sale committee, told Reuters the highest bidder had presented "confusing documents".

"The technical document specified that bidders needed to present original papers but he presented photocopied documents which looked worrisome to me," Ngowembona said.

"As I was in charge of the sale, and the government wanted it to be done quickly, I decided to disqualify this bidder."

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Sunday, August 13, 2006

Second anniversary of the Gatumba massacre

From the Guardian

Violence and abuses continue in Darfur and the Great Lakes

Saturday August 12, 2006
The Guardian

Tomorrow will see the second anniversary of the Gatumba massacre, in which more than 160 Congolese Banyamulenge Tutsis were slaughtered, under the eyes of the United Nations, at a refugee camp in Burundi in 2004. Soon after the attack, the Hutu-extremist group Palipehutu-FNL claimed responsibility, saying that they had no fear of being held to account because they had become untouchable. A UN report concluded that Congolese "Mai Mai" fighters and Rwandan Interahamwe had also been involved in the attack. Evidence has subsequently emerged suggesting the involvement of the Congolese government. To date, no one has been arrested in connection with the Gatumba massacre, and Palipehutu-FNL has recently been awarded immunity from prosecution by the Burundian government.

The signatories to this letter have all lost loved ones at the hands of the so-called "coalition of negative forces" in the Great Lakes region - at Gatumba and in other attacks in Burundi and the Democratic Republic of Congo. We welcome the interest shown in the region by the International Criminal Court. Today we urge the ICC to begin an investigation into the Gatumba massacre - and we urge the British government and the European Union to support such an action.

We seek justice not as retribution, but as an expression of the fundamental moral equality of all human beings, and as the surest method of bringing this cycle of violence to an end.

Alex M Ntung, Ernest Semukanya, Murura Alexis, Alfred Gasaba, Alexis Kiray, Richard Wilson and 10 others

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Thursday, August 10, 2006

Burundi ruling party's website knocked out by cyberhackers

The website, mouthpiece of Burundi's increasingly repressive ruling CNDD-FDD party, has been attacked by computer hackers. Until this afternoon the website had been carrying a series of articles attacking members of Burundi's independent media, and playing down reports of torture and abuse by the Burundian intelligence services. At the time of writing the website bears only the somewhat cryptic message:

"DON'T WAR - Hacked By CyberLord - Please Search ISLAM!!! NO WAR..!"

It's not yet clear whether the CNDD-FDD website was targetted because of the party's dubious human rights record, or merely for opportunistic reasons.

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Sunday, August 06, 2006

Burundi journalist suggests South African secret service complicity in "coup" fraud, urges Mbeki to investigate

Burundi realité reports that Alexis Sinduhije has publicly denounced the alleged coup as a fabrication by the ruling party CNDD-FDD, driven by the party President Hussein Radjabu - and suggests that members of the South African secret service may have been involved. Extracts follow:

“We received information yesterday evening which confirmed the information that we'd already seen, proving that this so-called coup d'etat is a fabrication which was concocted at a high-level within the ruling CNDD-FDD party by the president of this party Hussein Radjabu, with some people from the secret service. I would like to say to you here that the Burundian secret service is not serving the State. They are servants of the party in power”,

“We received information to the effect that Alain Mugabarabona [one of the alleged coup plotters arrested last week] was used, moreover her was not tortured, was the bait to attract certain personalities, and it is him who approached them [to take part in the fictitious coup]. There are of those that refused, and there are perhaps some that spoke to him..."

“We have very precise, very clear information that this was nothing but a fabrication. Indeed there were some individuals of the South-African secret service who may have advised or assisted CNDD-FDD in this action”

“We urge the South-African government, president Thabo Mbeki himself - we do not doubt his humanity, or his position as a responsible African, to exert pressure and to investigate whether his services have been infiltrated by Hussein Radjabu, or if he can persuade him to behave like a civilized man”

“Burundians of peace must organise themselves and bring a legal action against Radjabu Hussein”.

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Saturday, August 05, 2006

"This government refuses criticism, it looks to crush opponents, get rid of all those who don't think like it does"

Independent Burundian media sources continue to cast doubt on the credibility of Burundian government claims that a coup attempt has taken place.

"The objective was to shut everyone up and erase political freedoms. This government refuses criticism, it looks to crush opponents, get rid of all those who don't think like it does," said Alexis Sinduhije, head of Radio Publique Africaine, whose house was raided by the Police yesterday.

Meanwhile, Human Rights Watch has issued a joint statement from ten rights organisations condemning the torture of those detained in connection with the alleged coup.

From An appeal to the government of Burundi to stop torture, and other cruel, inhumane or degrading treatment immediately

The government of Burundi must immediately halt any acts of torture and other cruel, inhumane or degrading treatment of people who are currently detained and accused of preparing a coup d’etat, said several human rights organizations in Burundi. The government must begin credible investigations and prosecute those responsible.

Beginning on July 31, the National Intelligence Service (Service National de Renseignements, SNR) has been carrying out arrests of current and former politicians and members of the elite who are accused, according to the government, of “preparing to take over the democratically elected institutions.”

The president of the FNL Incanzo party, Alain Mugabarabona, and three other people, including Lieutenant Prudence Manirakiza, were arrested the evening of July 31. On August 1, Alphonse Marie Kadege (the ex vice-president of Burundi), Déo Niyonzima (President of the Parti pour la Réconciliation du Peuple), Col. Damien Ndarisigaranye and Popon Mudugu (members of AC Génocide Cirimoso) were arrested, though Ndarisigaranye and Mudugu were released the following day. On August 3, Isidore Rufyikiri (lawyer for Alphonse-Marie Kadege and Déo Niyonzima) was also apprehended.

The Burundian League of Human Rights (Ligue Iteka), members of the families of those detained and the minister in charge of human rights confirmed that Kadege, Niyonzima and Ndarisigaranye had been tortured. According to information gathered at the scene, Kadege was suspended by his hands and feet and beaten with a leather belt by agents of the SNR and Niyonzima had been beaten with a baton on the lower back and arm during interrogations. Ndarisigaranye was beaten on his back.

The detainees have not had visits from their lawyers or medical doctors to treat their wounds. The treatment of these detained people constitutes torture as defined in the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, adopted by the General Assembly of the United Nations in Resolution 39/46 from December 10, 1985, and ratified by Burundi in December 1992.

The signatories of this declaration recommend:

To the government of Burundi:

• Immediately cease torture, and cruel, inhumane or degrading treatment;
• Condemn any acts of torture committed in Burundi;
• Begin carrying out credible investigations to identify those responsible and bring them to justice;
• Authorize visits by family members, lawyers, human rights organizations, and medical doctors to those detained in the SNR;
• Respect national law and international human rights law.

To the diplomatic community:

• Condemn publicly all acts of torture committed in Burundi and insist that all confessions gathered under torture or threats of torture are void;
• Urge the government to begin credible investigations to bring those responsible for torture to justice;
• Urge the government to authorize access to the detained by members of their families, their lawyers, human rights organizations and doctors.

Bujumbura, Burundi
August 4, 2006


Ligue Iteka
Observatoire de l’Action Gouvernementale (OAG)
Action des Chrétiens pour l’Abolition de la Torture (ACAT)
Association pour la Protection des Droits Humains et des Détenus (APRODH)
Forum pour le Renforcement de la Société Civile ( FORSC)
Ligue de Droits de la personne dans la région des Grands Lacs (LDGL-Antenne Burundi)
Organisation de Lutte contre la Corruption et les Malversations Economiques (OLUCOME) ;
Office du Haut Commissaire aux Droits de l’Homme au Burundi
Human Rights Watch
Avocats sans Frontières (ASF)

Take action - Fax your MP!

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Friday, August 04, 2006

CPJ condemns harassment of Burundian radio director

CPJ condemns harassment of Burundian radio director

New York, August 4, 2006—A prominent radio journalist went into hiding for fear of arrest after police searched his home on Thursday. Alexis Sinduhije, founder and director of Radio Publique Africaine (RPA) and a 2004 recipient of the Committee to Protect Journalists' International Press Freedom Award, said authorities sought to arrest him in retribution for recent reports he had aired accusing the government of corruption and human rights abuses.

Authorities claimed they are investigating an alleged coup attempt, but Sinduhije said they were using the allegations to crack down on the press and the opposition. "They are trying to shut me up," he told CPJ in a telephone interview today.

“We condemn the government’s intimidation of Alexis Sinduhije, a pioneering independent journalist,” said CPJ Executive Director Joel Simon. “We believe authorities are using this emotional charge to mask their true motives, to punish a critical journalist.”

This week, Burundian authorities arrested several former high-ranking officials and a rebel leader, accusing them of plotting to assassinate President Pierre Nkurunziza and the chairman of the ruling party, according to international news reports. Nkurunziza was elected last year in polls hailed as an end to more than a decade of civil war and dictatorship.

RPA, a popular station based in the capital, Bujumbura, has been shuttered several times over its critical reporting. In July 2005, police forced the station off the air after the National Communications Council (CNC), an official media regulatory agency, alleged that RPA's election coverage was biased and that it had insulted the council. However, after a public outcry, the CNC chairman resigned and RPA's deputy director was appointed as a member of the council.

CPJ is a New York–based, independent, nonprofit organization that works to safeguard press freedom worldwide. For more information, visit

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Thursday, August 03, 2006

Is Nkurunziza the new Mugabe? Torture alleged as CNDD-FDD rounds up political opponents after alleged "coup attempt"

Burundi's CNDD-FDD government has made a series of arrests, alleging a conspiracy to assassinate President Nkurunziza. No evidence for the conspiracy has so far been presented.

Senior figures from both main opposition parties (Hutu and Tutsi), a number of smaller parties, and a human rights organisation have been arrested or had arrest warrants issued in their name. Figures so far detained include Alphonse Kadege of the Tutsi-dominated Uprona party, Alain Mugabarabona of the hardline-Hutu FNL-Icanzo (a splinter group from Palipehutu-FNL), Deo Niyonzima, leader of a small Tutsi faction, and Poppon Mudugu of the human rights campaign organisation Action Contre Genocide. Arrest warrants have also been issued for a number of leaders of the Hutu-dominated Frodebu party. A number of those detained have been tortured, according to their lawyer.

Independent observers are sceptical about the alleged coup plot, and fear that it may simply be a pretext to extend further CNDD-FDD's dominance of the political scene. Sceptics also question the credibility of the alleged alliance between such diametrically opposed groups as A C Genocide and FNL-Icanzo.

Uprona and Frodebu have issued statements claiming that the arrests are politically-motivated. Frodebu has urged the international community to follow the situation closely.

From The Mail and Guardian (SA)

Burundi has arrested an eighth person in a suspected plot to overthrow the Central African nation's government in a bloody coup, an intelligence source said on Thursday.

The authorities say they have evidence that former high-ranking politicians and a dissident rebel leader -- all arrested this week -- planned to kill President Pierre Nkurunziza in June with military support.

"Poppon Mudugu has been arrested. He is also wanted for being implicated in this attempt to destabilise government institutions," the source said, referring to an ethnic Tutsi activist arrested on Thursday.

Earlier this week, security services arrested seven people including former vice-president Alphonse Marie Kadege, Deo Niyonzima, the leader of a small ethnic Tutsi party, an army colonel and an ex-leader of a rebel faction.

A prisoner rights organisation known as APRODH on Thursday condemned the detainees' treatment as "inhuman", and a lawyer for Kadege and Niyonzima said they had been tortured.

"I have written to the heads of the intelligence services so that my clients can be allowed to be treated. I have information that my clients are being tortured," lawyer Isidor Rufyikiri told local radio Bonesha.

"I myself have received threats saying I will suffer the same fate if I do not abandon this matter."

Government officials were not immediately available for comment.

Burundi is tasting peace for the first time in more than a decade after a civil war killed more than 300 000 people.

The country's new-found peace is generally seen as an African success story, but rights watchdogs have warned its security services still commit abuses.

President Nkurunziza, an ethnic Hutu, first said five months ago that three unnamed men were plotting a coup against him. -- Reuters

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