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.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Rwasa may face International Criminal Court over use of child soldiers, says East African newspaper

From: The East African

A communiqué issued at the end of the meeting warned that the government would freeze FNL accounts and assets, refuse to issue visas to FNL members, deny them access to the media, revive a most-wanted list of FNL leaders, arrest them and extradite them.

This comes on the heels of a UN Security Council report that accuses the FNL of recruiting and arming child soldiers, in violation of the Rome Statute.

Officials familiar with the report told The EastAfrican that the report might lead to International Criminal Court indictments against Rwasa and other senior FNL officials.

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Thursday, December 13, 2007

Forgiveness, real and imagined

From the Times Literary Supplement, December 12th 2007

When forgiveness becomes the public rallying cry, played out on daytime television soap operas, encouraged by civic and religious leaders, and praised far and wide for its power to heal, its slide into confusion and vulgarity is inevitable. It becomes identified with “closure”, it is sentimentalized and transformed into therapy, and the criteria for its practice are obscured. It melds into forgetfulness of wrong, and is granted all too easily, once the expected public theatrics are performed.

From the Institute of War and Peace Reporting, November 23rd 2007

Michael Okello 32, of Koch Goma internal refugee camp, complained that rebel team leader Martin Ojul chose a very disparaging way of asking for forgiveness from victims. It seemed as if Ojul was making them apologise, he said.

"This is adding insult to injury. Does it mean that these people came all their way to tell us to rise up our hands so that they take our pictures and show the world?” he asked.

“Are they after genuine reconciliation? “They want us to reconcile but they haven't accounted for the atrocities they committed."To many, Ojul was not offering an apology on behalf of the LRA. Rather he was trying to create an impression that the Acholi community has forgiven Kony and is opposed to a trial for Kony and his top commanders in front of the International Criminal Court, ICC, in The Hague.

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Wednesday, December 12, 2007

New Gatumba campaign website + new online petition calling for justice for the victims and survivors of Gatumba


The Gatumba Refugees Survivors foundation was founded immediately after the 2004 Gatumba Genocide on the consensus of all the survivors of this Genocide.

A team of fifteen people headed its elected president Olivier Mandevu has been voted by the survivors to lead the organization.

The foundation was legally incorporated in the state of New York in 2007.

The goals of this organization:

1) Promoting the memorial of the deceased.
2) Working for the healing of the Gatumba Genocide Survivors.
3) Speaking out against Genocides, oppressions, tortures and all other kinds of Human Rights Violations.
4) Promoting justice with regard to the Gatumba Genocide perpetrators.
5) Promoting Unity, Love and Reconciliation.

The petition can be viewed here:

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Thursday, December 06, 2007

More on the general amnesty of the early 1990s, and other events that helped precipitate Burundi's decade-long war


Amnesty International Report 1994 - Burundi [looking at the events of 1993]

The newly elected President and other leading figures were brutally killed by soldiers who tried to seize power in October. This sparked off widespread intercommunal violence and political killings in which tens of thousands of people, including children, were killed and hundreds of thousands became refugees. Many of the victims were executed extrajudicially by the army. Earlier, there were arrests of suspected government opponents in the first half of the year, and others were brought to trial, some being sentenced after apparently unfair trials. However, all those still held were among some 500 political prisoners who were released as part of a general amnesty in September. Those freed also included 91 political prisoners sentenced after unfair trials in 1992. There were no executions: all death sentences were commuted under the September amnesty which also, however, gave immunity from prosecution to perpetrators of past human rights violations.

In February Burundi acceded to the UN Convention against Torture.

At the start of the year a multi-party electoral process began, raising hopes of an end to massive human rights violations which had been committed during 28 years of one-party military rule. However, there were violent incidents between supporters of the then ruling party, the Union pour le progrès national (UPRONA), Union for National Progress, and the main opposition party, the Front pour la démocratie au Burundi (FRODEBU), Front for Democracy in Burundi. In January the Minister of the Interior threatened to ban FRODEBU, accusing it of inciting violence and being a front for the banned Parti pour la libération du peuple hutu (PALIPEHUTU), Hutu People's Liberation Party.

President Pierre Buyoya, a member of the minority Tutsi ethnic group which dominates the armed forces, was defeated in presidential elections on 1 June. He had come to power in a coup in 1987. He was replaced by Melchior Ndadaye, a former prisoner of conscience and the first member of the majority Hutu ethnic group to become President. National Assembly elections on 29 June were won by FRODEBU. President Ndadaye said the new government was committed to the promotion of human rights and would abolish the death penalty. In a move apparently designed to foster national unity, he appointed a Tutsi member of UPRONA as Prime Minister to head a government which included Tutsi ministers. However, there were demonstrations by Tutsi students and UPRONA supporters against the transfer of power to a Hutu-dominated government.

On 21 October the President and other senior officials were killed by soldiers who attempted to overthrow the government. Other members of the government took refuge in the French Embassy. Those responsible for the coup, Tutsi members of the army, announced the formation of a National Public Salvation Council with Hutu former minister François Ngeze as its President. However, their actions were condemned by the UN, the Organization of African Unity (OAU) and governments around the world, and received a hostile reaction from the majority Hutu population. After several days the army's commanders said that the coup had been carried out by low-ranking soldiers and asked surviving members of the government to return to power.

The attempted coup, and the murder of the President and others, sparked off a wave of intercommunal violence which engulfed the country for the following month. Tens of thousands of civilians, including children, were killed in violence between Hutu and Tutsi. Hutu attacked Tutsi and Hutu supporters of UPRONA to avenge the killing of Hutu leaders by Tutsi soldiers. Tutsi civilians killed Hutu either in self-defence or in revenge attacks for the killing of Tutsi. Members of the security forces carried out reprisal attacks on Hutu villagers or failed to intervene to stop the violence. Approximately 700,000 refugees fled to neighbouring countries, and some 250,000 people were displaced within Burundi.

Surviving members of the government called on the UN and the OAU to help them put an end to the violence, set up a commission of inquiry to establish responsibility for the coup and related human rights abuses, and bring those found responsible to justice. In December the government headed by Prime Minister Sylvie Kinigi appointed a commission of inquiry headed by the Procurator General to investigate the human rights abuses which had occurred after the October coup attempt. However, the commission of inquiry had not started its work by the end of the year because of objections to its appointment from the opposition. The UN said it would send a team to Burundi to investigate the execution by soldiers of President Ndadaye and other government officials and to complement the work of the government's commission of inquiry, and the OAU offered to send soldiers to protect ministers, but none had been deployed by the end of the year.

No steps were known to have been taken by the military high command to identify those involved in the coup attempt and the killings and other violations linked to it. The government refused to agree to an amnesty for the killers of President Ndadaye and other senior officials and for those responsible for the coup attempt. Eight soldiers suspected of involvement in the October coup attempt were arrested in the days after the attempt. They were still held without charge or trial at the end of the year. Other soldiers suspected of having had a leading role fled the country. In December the Burundi Government demanded the extradition of two of these soldiers from Uganda.

In addition to President Ndadaye, the President and Deputy President of the National Assembly, the Minister of the Interior, the head of the security police and other officials were killed by soldiers during the coup attempt, as were the wife of a government minister and that of a National Assembly member. The President was reportedly stabbed to death with bayonets at a military barracks in Bujumbura, the capital, on 21 October. The same day, soldiers opened fire on people taking part in a peaceful demonstration in Bujumbura to protest against the attempted coup, killing about 10.

Elsewhere in the country, in the days and weeks following the coup, Hutu local government officials and supporters of the murdered President killed thousands of defenceless Tutsi civilians. For example, on 22 October a local government official in Mututa commune, Kayanza province, reportedly organized the execution of 90 Tutsi at Mungara trading centre. In reprisal for killings of Tutsi, serving and former members of the security forces attacked Hutu civilians. In some cases members of the security forces distributed arms to Tutsi civilians to use against Hutu. For instance, in Ruyigi province Tutsi students from a local secondary school, who had been armed by a Gendarmerie commander, attacked Hutu civilians at Ruyigi bishopric, killing about 70. The governor of Ruyigi province, who attempted to stop the killings, was imprisoned for a week by the local military commander.

Earlier, about 50 government opponents were arrested between January and May but none of these had been tried when the new National Assembly passed a general amnesty for all political prisoners. Most of those detained were members of FRODEBU accused of inciting violence or of involvement in killing political opponents. Seven others were alleged members of PALIPEHUTU who the authorities said were insurgents who had entered the country from neighbouring Rwanda.

On 3 July, seven army officers were arrested in connection with an alleged coup attempt and detained on the orders of the military procurator. They included Lieutenant-Colonel Sylvestre Ningaba, former President Buyoya's Principal Private Secretary. They had not been brought to trial when they were freed by other soldiers at the time of the October coup attempt.
Eight soldiers, including Major Hilère Ntakiyica, who had been arrested in connection with the alleged coup attempt in July and freed in October, were rearrested by military authorities at the end of October. They were held in Mpimba prison and accused of attempting to murder the Head of State but it remained unclear at the end of the year whether they had been formally charged.

About 500 political prisoners and detainees arrested during the previous two years were released in September, along with some 4,000 criminal prisoners, following the ratification by the National Assembly of a general amnesty. Death sentences were also commuted. Those released included about 400 prisoners who had been accused of involvement in attacks by Hutu insurgents at the end of 1991 (see Amnesty International Report 1993). The amnesty also applied to members of the security forces who were thereby given immunity from possible prosecution for tens of thousands of past human rights violations, including extrajudicial executions, which remained uninvestigated.

There were several trials of people who had been arrested in 1991 and 1992 in connection with political violence at the end of 1991, but some were still in progress in September when most political prisoners were released under the amnesty. Those tried included about 140 civilians whose trial began in May 1992 before the Court of Appeal in Ngozi. The prosecution reportedly failed three times to provide evidence to the court that the defendants had been involved in the violence, which had not directly affected northern Burundi where the defendants lived. In March the Court of Appeal submitted the case to the High Court in Ngozi, which subsequently convicted about 60 people who had been arrested in Kayanza province: the court ruled that they had been involved in planning the 1991 violence. They were sentenced to between five and 20 years' imprisonment. However, the impartiality of the court was in question: it was alleged that the defendants were convicted after unofficial consultation between the court and government officials. Trials were subsequently suspended and about 80 defendants remained untried in custody until their release in September.

Earlier, about 30 people were brought to trial in March before the Court of Appeal in Bujumbura. They included Alexandre Sindakira, a PALIPEHUTU leader, who denied involvement in or advocating violence. Defence lawyers alleged that most of the defendants had been tortured to make them confess (see Amnesty International Report 1993). The trial was adjourned and had not resumed by the time of the September amnesty, when they were released.

Other trials in connection with an alleged coup attempt in early 1992 began in March and April. The defendants included Cyprien Mbonimpa, a former Minister of Foreign Affairs, and more than 100 soldiers (see Amnesty International Report 1993). The soldiers were tried by court-martial: 60 were convicted and sentenced to between one and 20 years' imprisonment and the others were acquitted. Cyprien Mbonimpa appeared before the Supreme Court in April and his trial had not resumed when he was released in July. Other soldiers and civilians had been released without trial in previous months.

All prisoners sentenced to death before mid-1993 were released or had their sentences commuted as a result of the general amnesty in September. No new death sentences were reported and there were no executions.

Amnesty International was greatly concerned by the mass killings sparked off by the October
coup attempt and murder of the President and others. An Amnesty International delegation was in Bujumbura at the time of the coup to discuss human rights with government officials, including the problem of impunity. Both before and after the October events, Amnesty International called on the authorities to ensure that all human rights violations were fully and impartially investigated, and that those responsible for perpetrating torture, extrajudicial executions or other grave violations were brought to justice.

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Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Victims respond to Sacramento Bee's pre-emptive attack on basic human rights


In this article in the “Sacramento Bee”, a former US Ambassador to Burundi, Robert Krueger, urges that Burundi’s war criminals be awarded immunity from prosecution. Comments critical of this view have been posted in response, one of which has now been published. We reproduce it below:

My sister Charlotte Wilson was murdered in Burundi on December 28th 2000, with her fiancé Richard Ndereyimana and 19 others, including a number of children. The killers were Hutu-extremists seeking “retribution” for the atrocities of the Tutsi-dominated army - and seeking, of course, to advance their own power. The families of the dead, and the survivors, want those responsible to be prosecuted as war criminals, fairly and impartially under international standards. We want this because we want action to deter future killings and prevent others from suffering as we have; a TRC alone simply will not work. To characterise this as a desire for “retributive justice” is a cruel form of bullying, which seeks to create a moral equivalence between our cherished hope of justice and the killers' twisted desire for revenge. We want justice, not vengeance, and it is our basic human right under international law. Amnesty and Human Rights Watch support us. Please don't deny us our rights, Mr. Krueger

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Monday, December 03, 2007

FNL still arming and recruiting children, un-named European country denies humanitarian assistance to FNL deserters

UN says Burundi rebels are arming child soldiers

The EastAfrican

A draft UN Security Council report has accused Burundi’s last remaining rebel group, the Forces Nationales pour la Liberation (FNL), of recruiting and arming child soldiers.

The draft report, part of which The EastAfrican has seen, will be discussed by the Security Council as early as February, which could lead to punitive action against the FNL and its leader, Agathon Rwasa, who continues to hold out against implementing terms of a peace agreement signed with President Pierre Nkurunziza’s government.

“Children continue to be associated with the FNL,” the report notes. “It is reported that children are still in the ranks of the two remaining factions of FNL, the Agathon Rwasa and Jean Bosco Gateyeri groups, and ongoing recruitment of children by these groups continues to be of grave concern.”

The Rome Statute bans the recruitment of child soldiers and its violation could lead to the International Criminal Court indicting Rwasa and other senior FNL leaders.

The report documents 85 cases in which the FNL recruited child soldiers between October last year and July this year, with most cases coming soon after the signing of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement between the rebels and the government to end more than a decade of fighting in Burundi.

“The upsurge in recruitment by the FNL is allegedly aimed at enhancing their bargaining power should further peace negotiations take place and enabling them to claim increased financial benefits during the demobilisation and reintegration phases,” the confidential Security Council report notes.

The report notes that the delay in the implementation of the ceasefire agreement has forced many of these child soldiers to defect to authorities in Burundi, a development that has further raised tensions in the country.

Fighters of the FNL have reportedly been attacking these defectors on their way to reception centres set up by the South African peacekeepers in the country.

Kingsley Mamabolo, President Thabo Mbeki’s special envoy to the Burundi peace process, confirmed the defections.

“There are people who came out of the bush who claim they are FNL. We have been given orders by the regional leadership to take care of them on humanitarian grounds. We now have about 2,500 of them. They told us that they are tired of war and they want to participate in the peace agreement.”

The South African envoy added: “There’s one group of FNL that has been attacking them and killing them. There have been clashes between the two groups. On humanitarian grounds, we have no alternative but to get involved. There will, of course, be a process of verification.”

The FNL’s spokesman in Dar es Salaam, Pasteur Habimana, was not available for comment.

Uganda’s envoy to the Burundi peace process, Adonia Ayebare, declined to comment on the matter in depth but confirmed that President Yoweri Museveni, who chairs the regional peace initiative on Burundi, had given the order to offer humanitarian assistance to fighters laying down their arms and coming out of the bush.

The EastAfrican has independently learnt that a European country with links to Burundi has opposed the offer of humanitarian assistance to the defectors on the grounds that it was a “deliberate ploy” by Uganda and South Africa to weaken the FNL by tempting its fighters out of the bush.

The FNL was the last major rebel group to sign a ceasefire agreement with the Burundi government, but has failed to meet its obligations under the deal.

In September, we reported that the rebel leaders had rejected South African mediation in the conflict, accusing Johannesburg of partiality in favour of President Nkurunziza’s government. Analysts now warn that unless more diplomatic attention is paid to the conflict, war might break out again.

In a sign of growing tensions, Rwasa recently turned down an invitation to a meeting with Bernard Membe, Tanzania’s Minister of Foreign Affairs And International Co-operation, in which the Tanzanians, who host the Burundi peacekeeping effort, as well as some FNL rebel leaders, were expected to demand that the FNL complies unconditionally with the terms of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement.

Mr Mamabolo however said that there was still time to reach a diplomatic solution to the conflict.

“We continue to call on the FNL to participate in the peace process; nobody has taken their place in the joint verification mechanism,” he said.

“We are concerned and we hope they realise that the way to resolve this problem is to come back to the ceasefire agreement.”

The report also documents rape and other acts of sexual violence against children by members of the Burundi national police, army, intelligence services, as well as the FNL, with 80 cases reported between October 2006 and July this year.

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