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.

Friday, December 29, 2006

A bad day for Rwasa's Rwandan counterparts - Four genocide suspects arrested in the UK

From BBC Online

Four men accused of taking part in the Rwanda genocide in 1994 have been arrested in the UK. Scotland Yard said the arrests followed a request from the Rwandan government for their extradition.

Vincent Bajinya was arrested in north London, Charles Munyaneza in Bedford, Celestin Ugirashebuja in Essex and Emmanuel Nteziryayo in Manchester.

All four - accused of killing members of the Tutsi ethnic group - will appear before magistrates in London on Friday.

Mr Bajinya is also known as Dr Vincent Brown.

A provisional extradition warrant accuses them of killing members of the Tutsi ethnic group "with the intent to destroy in whole or in part, that group".

Scotland Yard said the extradition warrants had been issued by City of Westminster magistrates under Section 73 of the Extradition Act 2003.

The warrants also allege that between 1 January 1994 and 12 December 1994, the men conspired to kill Tutsis, and aided and abetted the killings.

Tharcisse Karugarama, Rwanda's justice minister, said in November that they had formally requested the British government to hand over four men suspected of planning the massacre.

, , , ,

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Justice for the victims of the December 28th 2000 Titanic Express massacre

From Wikipedia

The Titanic Express massacre was an event which took place on 28 December 2000, in which 21 people were killed in an attack on a bus, the “Titanic Express”, close to the Burundi capital Bujumbura.

The passengers, who had travelled from Kigali in Rwanda, were robbed of their valuables and then separated according to their ethnicity. Hutus and most Congolese were released unharmed. The Tutsis on board, and one British woman, Charlotte Wilson, who was traveling with her Burundian fiancé, were forced to lie face down on the ground and then shot. According to news reports, one of the Hutu passengers had been told to "tell the army we're going to kill them all and there's nothing you can do."

The attack took place in the province of Bujumbura Rural, a stronghold of the Hutu-extremist group Palipehutu-FNL (commonly known as FNL). The group is known for its hostility to the Tutsi ethnic group, and is believed to have carried out dozens of similar attacks in the same area. Although the FNL has denied responsibility for the "Titanic Express" attack, the Burundian authorities and a number of human rights groups have publicly blamed them for the massacre.

In May 2001, the International Crisis Group attributed the Titanic Express attack to "troops under the order of... Agathon Rwasa". In January 2004 the Sunday Times announced the discovery of a document which appears to be an FNL report, signed by a senior commander, detailing how the Titanic Express massacre was carried out. In June 2006, detailed eyewitness accounts of the attack were published in the book 'Titanic Express: Finding Answers in the Aftermath of Terror'.

Take action - Fax your MP!
Take action - sign the Titanic Express petition

, , , ,

Saturday, December 23, 2006

"Little truth and no reconciliation"

From The Guardian, Comment is Free

Six years ago, my sister Charlotte was dragged from a bus and shot dead in the tiny Central African state of Burundi. Twenty other passengers, among them her Burundian fiance, died with her. The killers were members of Palipehutu-FNL, a Hutu-extremist group seeking revenge on the country's then-dominant Tutsi minority. The massacre was unusual only inasmuch as it caught the attention of the international media. Since the start, in 1993, of the latest cycle of massacre and reprisal-massacre, 300,000 civilians have been killed. The vast majority of attacks have gone unreported.

This time last year, it looked as if the cycle might finally have been broken. Following Burundi's first elections in more than a decade, the country's larger and more moderate Hutu-led rebel group had taken power, promising to mend ethnic divisions and rebuild the country's once-buoyant economy. While Palipehutu-FNL continued sporadic attacks, the restoration of democracy had weakened and divided them. Many predicted that the group would be forced to capitulate - or face military defeat - within months.

The new government agreed to establish a Truth and Reconciliation Commission to examine Burundi's bloody post-colonial past, together with a special war crimes court to prosecute the worst of the perpetrators. The UN High Commission for Refugees stepped up "voluntary repatriations" of those who had fled the conflict. Shortly before the fifth anniversary of my sister's death, Burundi's Information Minister declared that the group's leader, Agathon Rwasa, would soon be arrested and put on trial over the December 2000 killings.

A year on, we're still waiting. In 12 months, international optimism over Burundi has unravelled with stomach-churning speed while no attempt has been made to prosecute Agathon Rwasa and his ilk, dozens of ordinary Burundians have been tortured and summarily killed as "FNL suspects". Rape and torture by the security services is rife. Journalists, human rights campaigners and opposition politicians have been arrested, harassed and intimidated.

When Olucome, the country's main anti-corruption organisation, alleged widespread financial irregularities by the new government, its director was arrested and charged with "defamation". Other members have been beaten up, and received death threats over their work. Staff of the country's main human rights organisation, Ligue Iteka, have also reported threats.

In June, the Burundian government announced plans to redefine the proposed "Truth and Reconciliation Commission" as a "Truth, Forgiveness and Reconciliation Commission". Proposals for a special war crimes court have effectively been ditched. Many fear that the remodelled TFRC will be little more than a thinly-disguised general amnesty, of the kind that has been tried, and failed, so often before in Burundi.

Concerns over corruption came to a head with the mysterious sale of the Presidential Falcon 50 jet to a US company, Delaware Corporation FZC, for nearly $2 million less than its market value. Senior figures within CNDD-FDD accused the party chairman, Hussein Radjabu, of taking kickbacks over this and a number of other deals. (See pages 17/p23 of the Swisspeace report.)

In late July, the authorities announced that they had foiled an attempted coup, involving senior members of every major opposition party. The government quickly arrested the country's Tutsi former Vice President, along with the Hutu ex-President, and a bizarre collection of Hutu and Tutsi extremists, anti-genocide campaigners, and independent journalists. The government's star witness was Alain Mugabarabona, the leader of an FNL splinter group, who had confessed to being the mastermind behind the coup.

If the allegations were true, then it would have been a remarkable example of inter-ethnic collaboration. In reality, many believe that the "plot" was nothing more than a clumsy fabrication, dreamed up as a pretext for silencing criticism and eliminating political opposition.

One day Burundi's Information Minister, Karenga Ramadhani, was claiming that Gratien Rukindikiza, an exiled politician, had implicated Alexis Sinduhije, head of the country's largest independent radio station, in the coup plot. The next day Sinduhije's radio station broadcast an interview with Rukindikiza, who denied saying anything of the sort and accused Ramadhani of "losing his head". The day after that, Ramadhani announced that it had all been a misunderstanding and Alexis Sinduhije had nothing to fear.

The alleged leader of the conspirators, Alain Mugabarabona, was then interviewed from his prison cell, on a smuggled mobile phone. Mugabarabona claimed that the coup plot was a fabrication, and that he had been tortured into confessing involvement. Torture allegations by several other alleged coup-plotters were corroborated by the country's human rights minister, who visited them in prison. Meanwhile a series of unexplained grenade attacks on bars in the Burundian capital claimed yet more lives. In late August, without irony, President Nkurunziza begged "forgiveness" for the human rights abuses committed during his first year in power, while urging the courts to "severely punish" those accused of plotting against him.

In September, Vice President Alice Nzomukunda resigned, condemning her own party's leadership over corruption and human rights abuse, and denouncing the coup allegations as baseless. Soon afterwards, CNDD-FDD signed a peace agreement with Palipehutu-FNL, granting them immunity from prosecution, and paving the way for them to join the country's government.

But the killings have continued. In October, thirteen more mutilated bodies were found, floating in Burundi's Ruzizi river. In November, Amnesty International revealed that a number of "FNL suspects" killed earlier in the year were former refugees who had been told by the UNHCR that it was safe to return. For these victims, as for so many others before, the international community's wishful thinking over Burundi had proved deadly.

A 2003 peace agreement between CNDD-FDD and the then-Tutsi-led government, endorsed and applauded by the UN, granted both sides "provisional immunity" for all crimes. Warnings by human rights groups that this would encourage further abuses were ignored. So too were calls for those implicated in war crimes to be barred from running for office. Some church groups have urged the Burundian government to go even further, and grant yet another general amnesty.

But to the Burundians I know, the idea that "peace and reconciliation" could be achieved while killers remain in power is a cruel joke. The difficult, messy truth is that democracy alone is not enough. Only by ensuring that Burundi's war criminals are prosecuted under international law, can we hope to see a permanent end to the violence.

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

, , , ,

Monday, December 18, 2006

Burundi Defence Minister blows the lid off CNDD-FDD's fraudulent coup plot allegations

From Reuters

Burundi's defence minister on Sunday broke ranks with his government to deny accusations that a former president and six accomplices, whose trial resumes this week, had plotted to bring down the administration.

"We have in the army a secret services bureau, I would like to assure you that we don't have any indication of the existence of a coup," Major General Germain Niyoyankana told reporters.

"And no elements of the army are involved in that coup plot if there is one," he added.

President Pierre Nkurunziza's government has come under increasing criticism from rights' groups and western nations for its handling of the alleged plot, which some fear might plunge the tiny central African nation into conflict again.

Burundi is emerging from over a decade of civil war after the 1993 assassination of President Melchior Ndadaye kicked off a brutal conflict in which more than 300,000 people were killed.

Police arrested former President Domitien Ndayizeye and six others in August saying they had strong evidence they were plotting to kill Nkurunziza and seize power. The High Court had said the seven should be freed on bail, but when prosecutors protested at the decision, the court reversed its ruling.

Critics say the plot was invented by the ruling party to quash dissent, but the government and prosecutors deny this.

The government said last week the suspects had met with Salim Saleh, the half-brother of Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni, Congolese dissident General Laurent Nkunda, and Rwandan army chief of staff General James Kabalebe.

But Niyoyankana said he doubted the involvement of foreigners in the alleged plot.

"They say Burundians worked with some foreigners to plot against the government," he said, adding that there were "incoherent and unreliable" aspects to the case.

"It is not a good thing to involve neighbouring countries. We don't have to blame others. This problem is ours. We are the source and the end of it," he added.

Former rebel leader Nkurunziza came to power in 2005 after democratic polls under a peace plan ending the war.

, , , ,

Monday, December 11, 2006

Burundi independent radio director "missing" after being summoned by CNDD-FDD prosecutor

From The Independent Federation of Journalists

IFJ Calls for End of Intimidation Campaign Against Independent Journalism in Burundi

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) today called on the government of Burundi to put an end to the repression of journalists after the government has stepped up its campaign of intimidation against journalists who have issued critical reports of an attempted coup in the country.

Three journalists have been jailed and four others summoned by the prosecutor in the capital city of Bujumbura in less than two weeks in relation to reporting they did about an attempted coup in the country.

Corneille Nibaruta, director of radio station Bonesha FM, was summoned to the prosecutor's office on 1 December but never arrived there. He has since gone missing, colleagues said.

The three imprisoned journalists will appear before the prosecutor on Wednesday.

The latest wave of arrests and summons of journalists is related to reports in private media that the government arranged a coup attempt that it has claimed it foiled.

On 29 November, the director of the radio station Isanganiro, Matthias Manirakiza, was jailed for allegedly "broadcasting information which could disturb public and security order". The accusation stems from a report aired on his radio station on August 29, 2006, on the imminent attack of the presidential palate and the residence of Hussein Rajabu, president of the ruling party, by elements of the police force.

The IFJ first heard of the attempts to intimidate journalists after the editor-in-chief of Radio Publique Africaine (RPA), Serge Nibizi, and the journalist Domitille Kiramvu were summoned by the prosecutor on November 22 and arrested for allegedly threatening state security and broadcasting information on a case under judicial investigation. Three other journalists of RPA have been questioned and released.

"This repression of independent journalism is unacceptable and we are calling on the government to put an end to it immediately," said Gabriel Baglo, Director of the IFJ Africa Office. "These journalists have been targeted purely for political reasons; the prosecutor has no case against them. We are calling for their immediate and unconditional release."

On 29 November, professional media associations in Burundi denounced this "sequence of acts of intimidation targeting media professionals" and launched a petition for the release of the imprisoned journalists.

These organizations met with the vice-president of Burundi and the representation of the United Nations in the country in an attempt to alleviate the tensions between the private media and the government.

The IFJ represents over 500,000 journalists in more than 110 countries.

, , , ,