Groundhog day in Burundi as Rwasa declares an end to his campaign of violence - again
Rwasa (r) promising to stop killing people in 2005
Rwasa (l) promising to stop killing people in 2006
Rwasa (c) promising to stop killing people in 2008
It happened in 2005, it happened again in 2006, and now we're back here for round three: the FNL leader Agathon Rwasa has declared his intention to stop killing people, and affirmed his commitment to peace, democracy etc. while the UN and the international media look on and applaud.
Strangely absent, as usual, from the media coverage of Rwasa's latest rebranding exercise, are the names of his many victims: - Pasteur Jacques Rutekereza, one of the 156 Congolese Tutsis murdered by a coalition of FNL, Mai-Mai and FDLR killers in the August 2004 Gatumba refugee camp massacre. Arthur Kabunda, Charlotte Wilson and Richard Ndereyimana, three of the 21 passengers who were massacred after the Titanic Express bus was ambushed close to Bujumbura in December 2000. The thousands of others killed in other bus ambushes around Bujumbura between 1993 and 2005. And the hundreds - if not thousands - of Hutu residents living under the paranoid tyranny of FNL control in Bujumbura Rurale, who have been tortured and killed on suspicion of disloyalty.
Burundian government promises of justice for the victims of the Titanic Express and Gatumba massacres have so far come to nothing - and there is little to show for all the talk of the Gatumba massacre being referred to the International Criminal Court.
It would be nice to think that the international mediators falling over themselves to take credit for "restoring peace" are right this time, and that giving in to the FNL's demand for a blanket amnesty and government posts (without, of course, the formality of actually having to be elected) are all that it will take to persuade them, at last, to stop killing and torturing people. But history would suggest otherwise, and tragically the UN's wishful thinking on this issue is likely only to embolden Burundi's criminal elite, and lead to yet more killings. War criminals tend not to make great politicians.
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Burundi, human rights, Current Affairs, Politics, Africa