The current situation in Burundi is too complex and uncertain to be able to speak of a real improvement. UN Commission of Inquiry.
According United Nations Commission of Inquiry on Burundi experts, human rights developments in Burundi from the 2020 elections onwards remain confused and fraught with uncertainty. The first symbolic gestures occurred but, together with President Ndayishimiye’s declarations of intent, they are not enough to permanently improve the situation.
While Burundian military junta, illegally in power thanks to scam elections and after the mysterious death of its leader and Warlord: Pierre Nkurunziza, tries in every way to persuade the European Union to resume economic cooperation frozen in 2016 due to the serious human rights violations committed by the HutuPower CNDD-FDD regime in close cooperation with the Imbonerakure militias and the Rwandan FDLR terrorists, the United Nations Commission of Inquiry on Burundi publishes its periodic report on the situation in the small African country regarding human rights .
For the Commission’s experts, “human rights developments in Burundi from the 2020 elections onwards remain confused and fraught with uncertainty. The first symbolic gestures occurred but, together with President Ndayishimiye’s declarations of intent, they are not enough to permanently improve the situation”.
Doudou Diène, president of the Commission and the experts who collaborate with him are waiting the good intentions of the regime to be followed by concrete actions that will resolutely advance the human rights situation in Burundi. What is noticeable at the moment are only the promises of General Neva (Ndayishimiye) to pledge to put an end to human rights violations and to fight against impunity. Violence, ethnic persecution, extrajudicial executions, arbitrary arrests and torture continue undisturbed. According to Diène, the hunt for “rebels” and opponents intensified between December 2020 and February 2021. Political repression is conducted on an ethnic basis. For example, since September 2020, ethnic Tutsi soldiers, as well as members of their families, “have been victims of extrajudicial executions, enforced disappearances, arbitrary arrests and detentions often accompanied by torture,” Diène stresses.
Each week, lifeless bodies continue to be found in public space and are hastily buried by the authorities. The extent of this enduring phenomenon and the large number of such “blood crimes” in the country remain major concerns. The politica repression is carried out by agents of the National Intelligence Service, the Imbonerakure militias and the Rwandan FDLR allies. This observation by UN experts is very important. One of the conditions set by the EU for the resumption of economic assistance is the disarmament of the Imbonerakure militias and any other armed movements operating in the country, referring without naming them, to the FDLR.
Despite tight-lipped promises, the military junta does not show that it wants to disarm the Imbonerakure who, originally, were the young members of the ruling party CNDD-FDD, nor of ending the political and military alliance that the FDLR terrorists, main suspects assassination of the Italian Ambassador Luca Attanasio in eastern Congo. According to UN experts, attempts to control the Imbonerakure were interrupted during the summer of 2020. This militia has increased its power by regularly replacing the police and the judiciary, arresting, judging and executing the victims they arrest, mainly in rural areas . “The Imbonerakure have even been praised and galvanized by the Burundian authorities and continue to forcefully impose their own taxes and contributions on the population,” denounces the UN Commission. As for the collaboration with the FDLR terrorist group responsible for the 1994 Rwanda genocide, not only does it continue but the Gitega regime offers them military support for the invasion attempts of Rwanda. The latest of them implemented three weeks ago and rejected by the Rwandan armed forces who crossed the Burundian border to wage battle against these terrorists, retreating after inflicting heavy casualties.
The UN Commission welcomes the presidential pardon granted to more than 5,000 prisoners but points out that there are no political prisoners among them. Just common criminals. The pardon also benefited many Imbonerakure militiamen whom the authorities had been forced to arrest in previous months due to popular fury against their crimes. Political opponents, members of civil society and journalists continue to be seen as enemies, remain in prison or closely watched.
Members of the main opposition party, the CNL, remain targeted by the military junta and many have been arbitrarily arrested and detained in recent months. This is the case of former opposition MP Fabien Banciryanino, detained since October 2020, for denouncing human rights violations committed under President Nkurunziza. He is then accused of “rebellion, denunciations slanderous and attack on the internal security of the state “, in particular because of his criticisms. Banciryanino is not one of the inmates who have benefited from the presidential pardon. In this regard, the Commission believes that the presidential pardon granted to more than 5,000 detainees has been decided because of the prison overcrowding by now unmanageable and passed as a sign of democratic openness.
The Head of State has certainly made a positive gesture by freeing the four Iwacu journalists detained since October 2019, and asking for a solution to be found so that the media suspended since 2015 resume their activities. However, at the same time, the Commission says it learned of the life sentences of 12 exiled journalists and human rights defenders for their alleged involvement in the failed May 2015 coup.
Speaking to the UN Human Rights Council, Mr. Diène, however, recalled these “some encouraging signs” since President Ndayishimiye came to power. The Burundian head of state has also made many promises to improve the human rights situation and the “good governance” of the country, to promote the rule of law, to make the judicial system more impartial, but also to strengthen reconciliation and unity of Burundians. However, the President of the Commission of Inquiry recalled that simple ad hoc gestures or declarations of intent are not yet sufficient to affirm a clear and irreversible improvement in respect for human rights and democracy.
But some “of these promises are not unique or sometimes they can even contradict each other. In recent months, the first steps have finally been taken in this direction, however simple ad hoc gestures and declarations of intent are not enough”, said President Diène. The Commission of Inquiry hopes that the actions taken by President Ndayishimiye will be the beginning of “profound changes, of a structural nature, which are still long overdue.” In these circumstances, it reiterates its previous recommendations to the Burundian government to take measures structural that guarantee “good governance, the rule of law, the independence and impartiality of the judiciary”.
Finally, the Commission hopes for the reopening of the national office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, closed by the regime in 2017. “We insist on the importance of having an impartial and objective vigilance on the situation in Burundi, which remains fragile. If change is possible, there is still a long way to go, time is running out and the Burundian people continue to suffer. “ Diène concluded.
The reaction of the Burundian military junta was immediate. In response to what was decreed by the UN investigators, the Gitega regime reiterated “its firm opposition to the false accusations, politically oriented by the Commission of Inquiry”. “The government is working to improve good governance, public health, justice for all and the fight against poverty,” said Ambassador Rénovat Tabu. The Permanent Representative of Burundi to the UN in Geneva calls on the member states of the Council to “abandon the emotional approach to the situation in Burundi and let the Burundian people take action to solve problems as they see fit”.
The regime’s response is certainly not encouraging. On the contrary, it seems to confirm the strategy of the military junta composed of embarrassing denialism and openings on the facade that do not affect the repressive system of social control based on primitive violence, the plundering of national resources, support for international terrorist groups and continuous provocations and war activities both in Rwanda than east of the Congo.
How can we not notice that the Burundian military junta did not take the opportunity unfortunately resulting from the assassination of the Italian Ambassador Luca Attanasio to distance itself from its main ally: the FDLR? Despite the fact that they have been indicated by the Congolese government as the main suspects in the death of the Italian diplomat, the FDLR in Burundi continue to enjoy protection and military support. They continue to control the Imbonerakure militias and influence the country’s political and military decisions by holding leadership roles within the Armed Forces and Police.
On the contrary, the military junta, through its trolls on social media, encourages the spread of false accusations against Rwanda by the FDLR which identify President Paul Kagame as the instigator of the assassination of Athanasius. These accusations, perhaps the work of a misdirection operation, and without any evidence, were picked up by few European media but not considered worthy of consideration by the majority of Western Mainstream and by the authorities who are investigating Mr. Attanasio horrible fact of blood.
According to the from my sources of information in Burundi, the military junta has no intention of changing policy, disarming the Imbonerakure, breaking the alliance with the Rwandan terrorists FDLR opening up to democracy. It is simply focusing on “tricks” and facade acts that do not question the nature of the regime, to offer them to the EU as a red herring in order to get their hands on European funds once the economic sanctions are lifted.
It is shared the opinion of the majority of Christian and secular Burundian civil society that the idea that within the military junta there is a battle between a moderate faction (headed by President General Neva) and the hawks, headed by the Prime Minister: Major General Alain Guillaume Bunyoni, is completely false. This hypothetical internal clash would see the “Good Guy”: the President Ndayishimiye sincerely eager for democratic changes but hindered in exercising him in the presidency by the “Bad Guy”: the Prime Minister Bunyoni, an irreducible extremist HutuPower trusted by Imbonerakure and FDLR.
“This is a comedy in which Neva and Bunyoni play well-defined and agreed-upon part roles to offer a semblance of change and get the European Union money. General Neva, compared to Bunyoni, demonstrates having greater political foresight but would never dare to seriously question the totalitarian management of power exercised by the CNDD-FDD, disarm the Imbonerakure, remove the FDLR. For Bunyoni the question of resuming EU financial assistance is simple. European money is welcome but on the condition that the regime is not subject to management principles of good governance and human rights, considered internal affairs. Furthermore, Bunyoni, already investigated for crimes against humanity at the International Criminal Court, wants to ensure that the resumption of EU aid does not compromise its illegal trafficking in gold and other precious minerals stolen from the Congo. A millionaire turnover in which the doubt of interference from the European Mafia is strengthened “, explains an activist of the Burundian Civil Society protected by anonymity after careful verification of his identity.