Burundi heading towards ‘outright civil war’: UN rights chief [AFP]


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Burundi heading towards ‘outright civil war’: UN rights chief

BUJUMBURA, Dec 15 – The UN human rights chief on Tuesday warned that Burundi could be sliding back towards civil war, days after scores of bodies were found on the streets following attacks on three military sites.

A spokeswoman for Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein said the rights chief was “deeply alarmed by the latest developments in Burundi’s unfolding crisis.”

“With this latest series of bloody events, the country seems to have taken a new step towards outright civil war and tensions are now at bursting point in Bujumbura,” spokeswoman Cecile Pouilly told reporters, quoting Zeid.

The central African nation on Friday experienced the worst violence in months of unrest over President Pierre Nkurunziza’s quest for a third term in office, which he won in disputed July elections.

The army said 79 “enemies” and eight soldiers were killed during and after coordinated assaults on three military installations.

Several witnesses in pro-opposition districts of Bujumbura accused the security forces of dragging young men from their homes and killing them.

Pouilly said Zeid’s office was receiving reports that as many as 200 civilians may have been killed, but stressed it had not been possible to confirm those figures.

“Security forces later on carried out intensive house searches in the Musaga and Nyakabiga neighbourhoods, where they arrested hundreds of young men, allegedly summarily executing a number of them and taking many others to unknown locations,” she said.

Burundi is still recovering from a 1993-2006 civil war, which pitted rebels from the Hutu majority against an army dominated by minority Tutsis.

Some 300,000 people were killed in the war, which began a year before a genocide of mostly Tutsis in neighbouring Rwanda.

Read more at: capitalfm.co.ke/news/2015/12/112591/

Very bad in itself, the death toll is not high so far, the direction this is going is alarming. See the picture at the article above which AFP. AFP is noteworthy for their up close photography, in this story on Sudan as well: capitalfm.co.ke/news/2015/12/112527/.

NPR reports below:

Violence Escalates In Burundi; U.S Citizens Urged To Leave

Violence in the tiny African nation of Burundi has killed scores of people in recent days. Is it new ethnic bloodbath or lingering political tension over the president’s decision to seek a third term?

The tiny African nation of Burundi is on a slow burn, and many fear it’s in danger of repeating the history of its neighbor, Rwanda. Since a battle over the presidency turned violent this past spring, the word genocide has been in the air. In the past few days, scores were killed by police who went door-to-door dragging people out of their houses and shooting them, some with their hands tied behind their backs. Our East Africa correspondent Gregory Warner is on the line from Nairobi, Kenya. And Greg, what is happening right now in Burundi?

GREGORY WARNER, BYLINE: Well, Renee, a new episode of violence began Friday when three military bases in the capital were attacked by gunmen. Now, no one has taken responsibility for that attack, but the reaction of the government in its public statements and its tweets has been to blame what they call the Sindumuja. That’s a dangerous blanket term that really refers to any Burundian who is not pro-government, who is not in the ruling party. The reaction from police was just as deadly and undiscriminating as you just described. And just as frightening has been the rhetoric from Burundian officials - the rhetoric that’s evoked language used before and during the Rwandan genocide - where police are exhorted to get to work on the opposition. Of course, the opposition are Burundian citizens.

MONTAGNE: Gregory, as you say, Rwanda back in 1994 had this terrible genocide. But Burundi has had a similar history of ethnic division. So what is the possibility that there could be another ethnic war there?

WARNER: Well, Burundi shares a border with Rwanda and it also has the same ethnic makeup - Hutu and Tutsi. And while Rwanda’s genocide started in 1994 and lasted three months, Burundi’s ethnic civil war began in 1993 and ended 12 years later, in 2005. Those ethnic traumas are present, and those divisions can resurface at any time. But the president is Hutu. His opposition is Hutu. The lines of division right now are really not ethnic; they are political. And what is going on is that you have an elected president that’s done precious little for his country - the president cares more about the building his soccer team than jobs or healthcare - and the president has now seized a third term in power, really rigging the court to absolve him of constitutional two-term limits. He’s cracked down brutally on peaceful expressions of dissent, and that dissent has now become armed. It’s become violent. That’s what’s worrisome.

Read more at: npr.org/2015/12/15/459788943/violence-escalates-in-burundi-u-s-citizens-urged-to-leave


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