8 September 2017

Burundi: TRC Calls On Local Administration to Protect Discovered Mass Graves

The results of the testimonies given in the two provinces (central provinces of Mwaro and Karuzi) over a period between 9 and 29 August gave a total of 4792 persons who were entrusted to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission-TRC. Bishop Jean Louis Nahimana, chairman of the commission says 1624 people came to confide to the members of the commission in Mwaro Province.

Many people from Mwaro province came to the TRC to give their testimonies: 480 from Nyabihanga commune, 110 from Ndava commune, 433 others from Kayokwe commune, 216 from Bisoro commune, 101 from Gisozi commune and another 283 from Rusaka commune.

In addition to these testimonies, says the chair of the commission, mass graves in Mwaro province after the 1972 and 1993 crises were also found. "110 mass graves were discovered in different places", says Bishop Nahimana.

He, however, says this does not mean that the discovery is over, as citizens continue to reveal other places where victims have been illegally buried. "These mass graves are verified on the spot by members of the commission", he says.

In Karusi province, the work continues and more than 3168 people have confided to the members of the commission during three weeks that they spent in that province. 383 were from Buhiga commune, 628 from Gitaramuka commune, 504 from Bugenyuzi commune, 306 from Nyabikere commune, 512 from Mutumba commune and 482 others from Gihogazi commune.

In addition to these testimonies, the members of the Commission also met 30 people who witnessed the 1972 and 1993 killings in Karuzi province and another 20 in Mwaro province. "This receipt of the depositions really marked the beginning of the operational phase of TRC", he says.

On 31 December 2016, the Commission collected 472 testimonies in three communes of Bujumbura city.

Bishop Jean Louis Nahimana urges the local administration to protect the discovered mass graves so that perpetrators of the then crimes may not cover their tracks.

Aloys Batungwanayo, Chairperson of the Association for the Memory and Protection of Humanity against International Crimes- AMEPCI-Gira Ubuntu, said that there is an estimated 2,500 mass graves in Burundi from 1972 to date.

He said, according to the survey conducted by the association, those mass graves are located in all communes of Burundi, in military camps, toilets and pits while other dead bodies were thrown into the rivers.

The National Commission for Truth and Reconciliation-TRC was created in December 2014 with a four -year term. Its objective is to establishing the truth on what happened in Burundi including the identification of mass graves and reconciliation among Burundians as well.

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