Burundi: civil society raises the alarm

18.05.2017 ( Last modified: 08.06.2017 )

Four representatives of Burundian NGOs visited Geneva. Pierre-Claver MBONIMPA (President of the APRODH), Armel NIYONGERE (President of ACAT-Burundi and Director of SOS-Torture Burundi), Janvier BIGIRIMANA (Secretary general of FOCODE) and Gordien NIYUNGEKO (Executive Secretary of FOCODE) spoke to TRIAL International about the grim situation in their country.  

It is a pleasure to be here in Geneva and to personally meet our partners, including TRIAL International. We are here to inform the Working Group on Enforced and Involuntary Disappearances of the alarming situation in Burundi, namely the cases documented by our organizations. But meeting up with international actors is equally important in the pursuit of our cause. We need partners and institutional stakeholders to relay our fight.

We are extremely satisfied that the United Nations has set up a Commission of Inquiry. Its very existence is proof of an underlying problem that the Burundian authorities stubbornly deny.

Our government’s refusal to cooperate with the international community is both an admission of weakness and a testament to their lack of arguments. It also proves that the leadership fears the consequences of their actions.

 

Hard living conditions

All four of us live in exile today. During the first months of the crisis, we stayed to expose the abuses taking place. But as well-known within the community, we are in the government’s direct line of sight. The screws were tightening and we had to flee with our families.

Many human rights activists still live in Burundi. They are lesser-known figures but their safety is precarious nevertheless. We are in contact on a daily basis, over WhatsApp and other social networks.

As exiles, our role is to collect evidence and bear witness to the human rights violations before the international community.

Our struggle is tough and victories scarce. But each visit to Geneva is our opportunity to shed a light on the Burundian crisis.

We cannot give up. No matter how long the night, the sun will eventually rise!