27 March 2017

Burundi: 'Corpse Phenomenon' On Greater Scale

analysis

Lifeless bodies are discovered all over the country. Some human rights activists speak of a revival of murderous violence of a political and ethnic nature and count about sixty corpses. For the police, this phenomenon would be linked to vengeance, banditry or witchcraft.

In the morning of Monday, March 20, a body of a police officer, a colonel named Charles Ndihokubwayo, was found inside St. Joseph parish in District III of Ngagara area in northern Ntahangwa commune of Bujumbura city.

Witnesses said his body did not have traces of wounds or contusion. Pierre Nkurikiye, Police spokesman, said that police officer who lived in Ngagara, was working at the Higher Police Institute in Mitakataka area of the western province of Bubanza.

Mr. Nkurikiye said the victim came from Mitakataka with his colleagues in a police vehicle. They dropped him in Kinama area with another person and the two would have taken a taxi later, Police spokesman said. "But, oddly, this officer's body was found this morning in Saint Joseph parish. Two night watchmen from this parish were apprehended for investigative reasons", police spokesman said.

On that same Monday, another lifeless body was found in Cizanye River in Murama hill of Muyinga commune and province. The victim is known by the name of Cyrille from the same locality. The administration says drowning would be the cause of the death but the inhabitants of this locality remain skeptical given that this 30 year-old man had just returned to the country after several months in exile.

Lifeless bodies pretty much everywhere in the country

On March 19, 2017, a body of an unidentified man was found on Mpehe hill in Bugarama area of Muramvya commune and province. According to testimonies on the spot, this corpse had a wound on its head.

In Mutimbuzi commune of Bujumbura province, two bodies were found in the morning of March 16, 2017 on Vugizo hill in Gatumba area. The victims are Elie Nyandwi and Jimmy, all from the same locality. According to Vugizo inhabitants, these people were killed by armed men in military and police uniforms.

Another lifeless body is that of Léonidas Nibogora (aged fourty and father of two children) found on Bugera hill in Buziracanda area, in Ndava commune of Mwaro central province. Ruyigi is no exception. An unidentified and decaying corpse was found on Tuesday, March 15, 2017, on Kigamba hill in Ruyigi commune and province. Dieudonné Citegetse, Administrator of Ruyigi commune, ordered the burial of the body and the investigation was entrusted to an officer of the judicial police.

On March 13, an unidentified human body was discovered on the outskirts of Yoba district in the city of Gitega (center of the country). On the same day, two bodies were recovered from the Siguvyaye River in the foothills of Buta in the southern Bururi commune and province. The victims are a young child from Batwa community as well as Desiré Nzisabira who was born in Songa, Gitega province.

According to the reports of the Burundian Human Rights "League Iteka", there have been 63 bodies since the beginning of 2017. "In these three weeks of March, we recorded 24 corpses throughout the country", Said Anschaire Nikoyagize, president of the league.

Reactions

Armel Niyongere: "The government has changed a strategy"

"These executions are meant to frighten the population or even the members of the defense and security forces who do not support the regime in place as they are also victims of this repression, especially the soldiers from the former army (Ex- FAB)." This Human rights activist says the government's speech that security is total is not true because "the government has rather changed a strategy by executing opponents and ex-FAB soldiers to make the conflict ethnic."Armel Niyongere asks the government to conduct credible and transparent investigations to identify perpetrators and bring them before justice. Otherwise, he said, all these files will be sent to the International Criminal Court (ICC).

Anschaire Nikoyagize: "A need for International investigations "

"The phenomenon of corpses resumes with a worrying pace. The trend is similar to that observed towards the end of 2015, "said the human rights activist. According to him, it is a repression that is made by security and defense forces and the youths affiliated to the ruling party CNDD-FDD, the Imbonerakure. "What is still scary is that this repression focuses on the ex-FAB soldiers and the opposition youth."

Mr. Nikoyagize deplores the behavior of the administrative authorities who hasten to bury the corpses without any identification. "This shows that the government is behind these assassinations. Otherwise, administrations would wait for investigations and identification of victims before burying them. "Anschaire Nikoyagize calls on the government to do its duty to protect the population. For him, the international community must put pressure on Bujumbura to accept international investigations.

Pierre Nkurikiye: "No political motives behind these murders"

"There is no increase in violence," said the police spokesman. These are simple isolated cases of common criminality (account settlement, banditry, and witchcraft). According to Pierre Nkurikiye, there is no political motive behind these murders and no ethnic group is targeted. Authors are most often apprehended.

François-Xavier Ndaruzaniye: "It's early to conclude that it's a hunt for Ex-FABs"

For this human rights defender, no one has the right to kill anyone for any reason whatsoever. As for corpses of Ex-FAB soldiers found here and there, the president of "Izere Ntiwihebure" league indicates that it is early to conclude that it's a manhunt. According to him, the Burundian problem is not ethnic. "Those who propagate this way of thinking want to discourage our Tutsi military brothers and sisters who are in the police and army."

Agathon Rwasa: "My supporters are being mistreated."

All these bodies found and unsuccessful investigations give cause for concern. In a state governed by the rule of law, every citizen is supposed to be a member of the party of their choice. This is not the case in Burundi. "My supporters are being mistreated just because they have not chosen the party in power. It's sad."

Léonce Ngendakumana: " There will always be these assassinations as long as the causes of the crisis have not been resolved"

For the vice president of Frodebu party, as long as the root causes of the crisis have not been eradicated through negotiations, the killings will be committed. "It has become a fact. Mere settling of accounts led to the killings. And the authorities do not lift a finger to intervene. "The situation will not normalize anytime soon unless we sit down together to find a solution to the crisis", Léonce Ngendakumana concluded.

Jean De Dieu Mutabazi: "An international scam conveyed to manipulate public opinion"

According to the president of Radebu party, to speak of renewed violence is a gratuitous statement, an international scam conveyed by the radical opposition and supported by the civil society suspended in the country to manipulate the public opinion. He is astonished that a dead person automatically becomes a politically motivated murder. In addition, he says, a killed Hutu is a Rwasa sympathizer, a killed Tutsi is directly labeled Ex-FAB and all criminals are Imbonerakure.

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