In December 2015, attacks by unidentified armed persons on military bases triggered a wave of repression by Burundian law enforcement agencies. Those most affected by this repression were those opposing the government.
Miriam (real name withheld) was a member of an opposition party in Burundi. The day after the attacks, and without any authorisation, soldiers came to her home to carry out a search, during which one of the soldiers “found” a weapon. Miriam did not know where that weapon came from.
Despite her protests, Miriam was taken by the military and then handed over to a group of police officers who beat her with a baton and made death threats. She was then held in police custody for about 10 days, during which her rights to medical attention and to consult with a lawyer or family member were systematically denied. Miriam then faced the judicial authorities, by whom she was interrogated and placed in preventive detention.
Miriam’s trial resulted in a heavy sentence for illegal possession of firearms, even though she continually denied knowing the origin of the weapon allegedly “found” in her home.