Posts tagged as: burundian

Genocide – Burundians Pinned in Ntaganzwa Trial

By Elisee Mpirwa

The Specialised Chamber for International Crimes at the High Court Tuesday proceeded with the trial of Genocide suspect Ladislas Ntaganzwa where prosecution laid out accounts from witnesses.

Prosecution, represented by Faustin Nkusi, said they have on record witness accounts saying they saw Ntaganzwa commanding a mob that included Burundian refugees, which killed over 20,000 Tutsi at Cyahinda Parish in the former Nyakizu commune, now in Nyaruguru District, in 1994

Ntaganzwa was extradited to Rwanda in March 2016 following his arrest in DR Congo, on an indictment issued by the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR).

Among other charges, he is accused of participating in genocide, public incitement to commit genocide, extermination, murder and rape as crime against humanity.

Nkusi said that witnesses say that Ntaganzwa was often times during the Genocide seen in the company of policemen and militiamen brandishing guns.

They said Ntaganzwa, in the company of the Burundian refugees on April 18, 1994, marched onto the compound of the Cyahinda Catholic Church where the tens of thousands of Tutsi had sought refuge.

They killed them.

During the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi, thousands of Burundian nationals were in the country, mainly in southern Rwanda, having fled skirmishes in their own country.

Other witnesses told prosecution that Ntaganzwa organised and coordinated killings and rape against women at various places and roadblocks in his home area mainly at Musumba, Ryabidandi and Coko.

The presiding judge, Antoine Muhima, adjourned the court to October 2 to continue with submissions from the prosecution before the suspect can start presenting his defence.

Ntaganzwa, a former Bourgmestre (mayor) of Nyakizu Commune, now in Nyaruguru District, was one of nine Genocide masterminds who were indicted by the ICTR but had not yet been arrested by the time the UN court closed shop.

His file was subsequently transferred to Rwandan prosecution.

He was one of the Genocide suspects under the Reward for Justice Programme of the US Government with a $5 million bounty each.


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Burundians to Fight UN Police Officers, Says CNDD-FDD Boss

By Lorraine Josiane Manishatse

“I advise the UN not to validate this biased report presented by its experts, otherwise it will be the end of this great organization because we will firmly resist,” said Evariste

Ndayishimiye, Secretary General of the ruling party CNDD -FDD, on 16 September during a demonstration staged by members and supporters of the party. The aim was to challenge the report recently released by the UN Commission of Inquiry on Burundi.

According to Ndayishimiye, the report of the UN experts aims at facilitating great powers which are enemies of Burundi or the UN to deploy troops in order to invade Burundi.

The CNDD-FDD boss accuses the UN of using double standards. “Despicable crimes have been committed in Burundi since its independence, but the UN has never reacted. Why do they want to conduct investigations in Burundi today? “he said.

“They have tried to send the African Mission of Prevention and Protection to Burundi (MAPROBU) without success. If they dare, we are ready to fight them and we will win,” he also said.

“They are trying to deploy 228 police officers to arrest us and bring us to the International Criminal Court (ICC), we will fight and annihilate them in two hours,” said the Secretary General of the ruling party.

On 4 September, the UN Commission of Inquiry issued a report in which investigators accuse Burundi government of committing crimes against humanity. It called on ICC to initiate investigations in Burundi as soon as possible.

Burundians should not be confused with CNDD-FDD members

Tatien Siboma, a political opponent, finds that the Government of Burundi and the ruling party are finding scapegoats.

For him, since Burundi has plunged into the crisis in 2015, the UN institutions have adopted resolutions and produced reports on human rights situation which the government and the ruling party have always rejected. They accuse authorities and organizations responsible for these resolutions and reports of being biased.

“The best way to protest the reports is to allow international observers to come on the ground to dissect their content,” he said.

As long as the government and the ruling party do not accept that the UN investigators come on the ground in order to corroborate those reports, they will have no argument, he said. “Otherwise, anyone will conclude that they are accusing themselves of something,” said Sibomana.

For him, by saying that the Burundian people will protest against the UN if it implements the 2303 resolution, the CNDD-FDD Secretary General alluded to the youth affiliated to the ruling party ‘Imbonerakure’. “CNDD-FDD members cannot be confused with the Burundian people. We are not ready to fight against the experts sent by the UN, “he said.

Sibomana calls on the UN to investigate crimes committed since 2015.


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Catholic Bishops Call for Inclusive Dialogue

By Lorraine Josiane Manishatse

In a communiqué released on 10 September, Burundian catholic bishops call on Burundians to engage in an inclusive dialogue for the great interests of the nation to prevent war.

“We would once again insist on the inclusive dialogue that must be prioritized for the great interest of the nation for blocking the way to all those who opt for the path of war,” Burundi catholic bishops said.

They said Burundians have suffered so much from war casualties and no responsible citizen can accept that the country plunges once again into war. “Everyone knows that disagreements between politicians have resulted in mutual exclusion, killings and assassinations,” they said.

They also said this situation has forced many Burundians to flee the country to neighboring countries where they live in terrible conditions. “Among them there are politicians, law enforcement and security officials, economic operators and leaders of various civil society organizations,” they said.

Bishops said that Burundians cannot work together to build their homeland together since some are forced to stay abroad. They called on all Burundians to join their forces to build a better country. “Those who are in power or those who seek to conquer it and ever all Burundians are like travelers who share the same road.

Everyone needs the contribution of the other, “according to the bishops of the catholic church in Burundi.

They said they fear if the inter-Burundian- dialogue is delayed, the problems the country is facing will become more complicated.

On 6 September , Burundian Ombudsman, Edouard Nduwimana announced that the last round of the inter-Burundian dialogue of Arusha, led by former Tanzanian President, William Benjamin Mkapa will be held by October. He said the people prosecuted in Burundi will not be invited to this peace talks.

Burundi has plunged into a violent political crisis since President Pierre Nkurunziza announced a controversial run for a third term, which he won in contested elections in July 2015. Since then, a dialogue between the Burundi Government and the opposition has been demanded by the UN, AU, EU, EAC and other partners to restore peace. A proper dialogue never took off. A series of meetings organized by the EAC that Burundi’s leaders committed to -but failed to attend- initially.


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Oasis of Peace – Giving Burundian Refugees New Lease of Life

By Sharon Kantengwa

In 1993, at a time when the number of orphans was steadily increasing in Burundi due to the civil war, the then 24 year old Marguerite Barankitse started an NGO Maison Shalom, which means ‘house of peace’, and REMA Hospital that has been providing love and stability to children whose lives have been affected by Burundi’s pervasive conflict.

With over 20,000 beneficiaries whose lives had changed and brought hope to Burundian communities, Barankitse had begun to see her dream of a violent free Burundi, come to pass.

This was later disrupted when more conflict broke out in 2015. Nevertheless, she vowed never to leave her home country, but continue her work in saving several other young Burundians that needed refuge.

“When I was 16, I was filled with rage because many young people were being used to kill our parents. I lost over 60 relatives to the war in 1993 and made a vow that I would do my best to protect out people and spread love among the youth, even when another war broke out,” she says.

This was until she realised that her life was in danger and staying in her home country was untenable.

“When this happened, I wrote to my ‘children’ living in Canada and one of them wrote back and told me ‘Mummy you have to leave the country because when you arrive in exile, you will save many young people in your country. It is time for you to be our Joseph, so do not be afraid of fleeing,” she narrates.

Barankitse fled the country when there was a spree of killings in 2015, with just a bag of clothes and a photo album, which contains pictures of the children that she saved during the war since 1993.

Without money and a place to stay, she sought refuge at an old friend’s place, after she was told that it was unsafe for her to live in the refugee camp.

“Even though I was safe, my heart was not at peace knowing that I had several brothers and sisters living in misery. I pleaded with my host to give me the money that would be used to cover my expenses so I can share it with my people,” she says.

She was given 100,000 euros and that is when the idea of setting up a community center came up.

The birth of Oasis of Peace

After searching for a place she found Macadamia, which she chose because of its big compound, but was required to pay 5,000 dollars as rent which she couldn’t afford at the time.

I called my friends who paid six months’ rent. I turned it into Oasis of peace and I slowly started gathering refugees and young people. This is now a place where people can dream of love, peace and memory healing,” she says.

The community center, a sister organization to Maison Shalom Rwanda is currently home to hundreds of people that seek space for sociocultural, intellectual and peace building education for Burundian refugees as well as for the population host.

“The center is for everybody, although people may think it’s a community center for Burundian refugees, it is for everybody. I dream to organize activities between different nationalities across the region and encourage them to stand up against manipulation, for the sake of humanity in the great lakes region,” Barakintse reveals as she gives me a quick tour around the center.

Derived from the Bible, Oasis of Peace, the 61 year old says, is meant to give the young people a sense of peace and blessings with values of compassion, solidarity, dignity, tolerance and humility.

At the center, several workers and employees interact in mainly Kinyarwanda, Kirundi and French.

Several young people can be seen in groups having practical lessons in tailoring, hand crafts, and others in the cyber cafe. Another group is seated at the stall with products ready for sale.

In the compound, another group is drawing and painting while the other batch is in the kitchen having catering classes and preparing lunch for the over 200 people that come to the center for a free meal.

All of them are referring to her as ‘mummy.’

“We also prepare secondary school and university and my dream is to buy this place and also build a university of peace,” she says drifting my attention away from the artwork.

Another group of smartly dressed people in the compound is conducting a meeting. Barankitse reveals to me, that they are children she used to help, who now run the daily operations of the center.

“Many of them on hearing that I had opened up a center left their respective countries of residence to join in on this cause.”

As we continue, I’m led to another separate wing which I’m told is a small clinic, where the wounded, and victims of rape find treatment from medics. There, I meet one of the patients, Tresor Manirakiza, a Burundian who became paralyzed after he was shot in the back during the 2015 protests in Burundi.

“The hospitals gave up on him because there was no hope for recovery but I took him up because his pain was as a result of a just cause for his people. My plan is to get him a wheelchair from Switzerland for his condition to aid his movement so he can breathe fresh air outside his room,” she says.

Ushering me to her office, I notice several pictures of the activist in big frames hanged all over the wall. They are pictures of her with several world leaders and icons including the pope, the queen of England and John Croony, all of whom she met since the set-up of Maison Shalom.

On April 24, 2016, she was named the inaugural Laureate of the $1million Aurora Prize for Awakening Humanity. At the ceremony held in Yerevan, Armenia, Barankitse was recognized for her extraordinary hand in saving thousands of lives and caring for orphans and refugees during years of civil unrest in Burundi. This is just one of the six awards and an honorary degree in Seattle University, which she received after she fled a country.

“In 2015, I watched how politicians fighting for power use young people and how the militia was created. Young people are used in these wars and some killed in our countries. I will not die without realizing my dreams of creating a new generation in this great lakes region,” she says.

I ask her what her greatest joy has been through her achievements and pain. She pulls out her big sized photo album and showing me several pictures with teary eyes she responds:

“When I began Maison Shalom in 1993, I gathered these children from Rwanda, Burundi and Congo and they grew up and became adults. When I wake up in the morning I can’t believe that when I was just 24 and adopted my first seven children four of who were Hutu and three Tutsi and raised them together as one and as children of God.”

“I did not get any biological children because of them, believing that we had many orphans in this great lakes region, but I am the happiest mother in the world, seeing these children grow and some of them are married. They are the reason why I am never afraid of what I do because there are times we were more than 10,000 in centers but we still carried on.”

“I could have chosen to flee to Europe because I have a Luxemburg document to protect me and a Luxemburg passport, but I do not want to be far away from my country and my people,” she says.

I then proceed to ask her what her goals in life are.

We need to save humanity. I want to stop the cycle of wars and killings rotating in some countries in our region, she says.

Locals Sidelined, Says New Report

By Louis Kolumbia

Dar es Salaam — Seventy-five per cent of local communities in investment-designated areas say they were not involved in making decisions on the future of their respective areas, according to a new report.

The Human Rights and Business Report 2016 released by the Legal and Human Rights Centre (LHRC) yesterday further says that local communities are not allowed to utilise idle land designated for investment.

According to the report, whose findings were presented by LHRC researcher Patience Mlowe, 50 per cent of land acquired for investment is not used by investors.

Only 24 per cent of respondents reported to have been consulted on investment decisions, while 57 per cent said that authorities denied them permission to use land designated for investment despite its remaining undeveloped for many years.

“It is a moral obligation for an investor to allow residents in investment areas to make use of idle land provided for investment…the majority of investors don’t allow local communities to use land which is not utilised for investment,” Mr Mlowe said.

It has also been established that it is common for investors to apply for land they cannot fully utilise. As a result, the land remains idle for many years, leading to invasion by members of surrounding communities.

The report says that land set aside for investment is usually vast and is taken from locals through both lawful and unlawful means.

The surrounding communities are left with little or no land for their daily activities such as hunting, farming and grazing.

As a result these communities may resort to invading land for investment, leading to protracted disputes with land owners.

LHRC urged the government to continue revoking titles for unused land, especially in rural areas, and hand it over to local communities.

The report also asks the Ministry of Energy and Minerals to provide small-scale miners with licences, saying a few miners are allocated huge tracts of land which remain idle.

Launching the report earlier, LHRC executive director Hellen Kijo-Bisimba said the government should involve locals in surveying land to avert disputes.


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Zitto Cautions Over New Political Parties Act

By Citizen Reporter

Dar es Salaam — The ACT Wazalendo party leader Zitto Kabwe has warned that efforts to write a Political Parties Act could undermine progress made in building multiparty democracy in the country.

In a statement he sent to the media today, August 31, Mr Kabwe said the experience of passing the Media Services Bill 2016 shows that the government could use the opportunity of passing the new political parties law to undermine political rights in the country.

Besides, he noted, some of the change for the new law fronted by the government do not require total overhaul of the law, while others could have very well been taken care off by the respective parties’ constitutions.

“It is proposed that the new law should put term limits for party leaders in internal party positions; that the police should be given powers to deny parties the permits to hold rallies; that the Registrar should have the right to access any information that he/she seeks from political parties and that the Registrar should be given powers to deregister a political party in the election year. While some of these proposals could have been taken care off by the constitutions of individual political parties, others are unacceptable,” he said.

He said an emergence meeting of the Council on Political Parties should be convened to discuss the proposed changes to the law.


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Ngorongoro Eviction Victims Now Pondering Court Option

By Louis Kolumbia

Dar es Salaam — Residents from 14 villages in Ngorongoro are considering going to court to challenge their eviction in Loliondo division.

The Tanzania Human Rights Defenders Coalition (THRDC) national coordinator, Onesmo Olengurumwa told The Citizen in a telephone interview that the residents were consulting their lawyer before moving to the court to challenge the ongoing eviction.

According to Mr Olengurumwa, who is the victims’ legal adviser, the villagers have already held a meeting with the Commission for Human Rights and Good Governance (CHRGG) to express their concerns.

The villagers, who face evictions are from Arash, Texambu, Lolosokoni, Kiritaro, Oleipiri, Maloni, Oleirini, Piaya, Oleseki and Losoito.

The government issued a public notice on August 5, this year demanding the residents to vacate their houses.

But, yesterday a delegation of representatives from Ngorongoro told a press conference that justice was not accorded to the 14 villages, seeking Prime Minister Kassim Majaliwa’s intervention.

Describing the agony facing the residents, they said 19 people have been arrested as of Wednesday and 11 others seriously injured by rangers who are accused of using live bullets in the operation and that over 5,800 households have been vandalized, leaving more than 20,000 people homeless.

“About 1,200 livestock have been seized by the authorities, some have died of hunger and congestion while over 133 heads of cattle and 281 sheep and goats are nowhere to be found,” said Mr Kipilangati Kaura.


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RC Orders Removal of Party Flags

By Stephano Simbeye

Mbozi — The Songwe Regional Commissioner, Ms Chiku Galawa, has banned hoisting of political parties flags along the Songwe-Zambia Highways road reserve in order to keep the town clean.

Ms Galawa made the statement yesterday at a meeting with health stakeholders, which took place in Vwawa Town, Mbozi District.

She directed people carrying out activities in the area and hoisting the flags of their respective political parties to remove them and vacate the areas.

“I order that from today, all flags of political parties must be removed and instead they should be hoisted at the office of the respective party… . since traders do businesses on the roadsides and follow their customers at bus stations, councils should find other good places for them, out of the highway,” said Ms Galawa. Speaking over the scattered waste alongside the highway, the RC directed health officials to start reminding the would-be passengers of stopping to throw discards haphazardly while on safaris, but they should instead use waste bins that would be installed inside busses.

The opposition Chadema Secretary in Mbozi District, Mr James Mbasha, said his party was yet to be informed of the exercise, saying, however, that the installed flags had owners, whom the RC should have called and talked to about the reason of removing them.

“We cannot remove the flags because we don’t know the reason of doing that. Why is she afraid of the owners of the flags? Let her call them and discuss the matter. We will sue any executive in a court of law coming to remove them because the flags are there according to the law,” said Mr Mbasha.

Speaking over the shifting of the bus stand from the roadside, Mr Mbasha concurred with the RC, saying that it was a good idea because people were endangering their lives, giving the example of the Mlowo Bus Stand, where, he said, the safety of people was in peril.

For his part, the Mlowo Town Council Executive Officer, Msolomi Dakawa, said already plans had been made to shift the bus stand to the new Forest area as they were only awaiting land experts to complete putting in place boundary demarcations before signing agreements with the traders to construct business stalls around the new area.


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Mbao Coach Confident to Command New Season

By Alexander Sanga

Mwanza — MBAO FC are confident to improve their last season’s performance in this year’s Premier League despite losing their key players.

The team’s Head Coach, Etienne Ndairagije, said he has built a strong team, stronger than that played in the ended league.

Speaking after his youthful team clobbered Pamba 4-1 in a pre-season friendly at CCM Kirumba stadium on Sunday, the Burundian tactician said Mbao FC will be a force to reckon with this season and hoped his team to end the best side from the Lake Zone.

Mbao FC goals overpowered the former giants – Pamba 4-1 with goals coming from Burundian international, Yusuph Ndikumana in the 15th minute, Moses Said in the 35th minute, Ismail Ally in the 45th minutes and Boniphace Maganga in the 75th minute.

Peter Magata scored the consolation goal for Pamba FC in the 73rd minute. Speaking in a post match interview, Ndairagije said he was pleased with how his team played. The former Vital O coach said his team will resume training today for the preparation of the match against Kagera Sugar which will be held at Kaitaba Stadium in Kagera this weekend.

The coach, however, complemented Pamba FC for the good game they have displayed against them despite the loss. Pamba FC head coach Mathias Wandiba said his team played well despite the defeat and he also confirmed his team will rest for two weeks before the kick off of the First Division league.

Pamba FC will launch their first division league campaign against Dodoma FC there after they will play JKT Oljoro.


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No Improvement of Situation, Says Chairman of Commission of Inquiry On Burundi

By Lorraine Josiane Manishatse

The Commission of Inquiry on Human Rights on Burundi will present the final report of its investigation in Geneva between the 18 and 19 September at the thirty-sixth session of the Human Rights Council. The chairman of the commission says the report will confirm that serious abuses continue to be committed in Burundi.

In an interview with UN Info on 16 August, Fatsah Ouguergouz, the chairman of the Commission of Inquiry on Human Rights in Burundi said UN investigators have received “no information about an improvement of the situation prevailing in Burundi, especially since the presentation of the oral report last June,” Ouguergouz said.

“However, we have received some testimony about allegations,” he said so adding that the information revealed serious violations similar to the content of the oral report presented last June in Geneva.

The Commission of Inquiry on Burundi will present a report in Geneva from 18 to 19 September at the thirty-sixth session of the Human Rights Council. That report should confirm that serious abuses continue in Burundi, said Ouguergouz.

On 15 June, UN commission of inquiry emphasized the persistence of serious human rights violations in a climate of widespread fear.

“Several victims of torture by the police or the national intelligence service reported to the Commission that the abuses endured were accompanied by ethnic insults,” UN investigators said.

“Over two months later, the Commission has no reason to be less concerned. So no improvements to our knowledge, “said the chairman of the commission.

“We face a lack of Burundi authorities’ cooperation’

Ouguergouz also said the commission of inquiry still faces a lack of cooperation with Burundian authorities. The Government of Burundi refused the members of the Commission a visa to enter the country.

They traveled to neighboring countries, Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda or the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), where they investigated hundreds of thousands of Burundians who fled Burundi, said Ouguergouz.

“Again, we deplore the lack of cooperation with the Burundian authorities. Despite this, we have been able to work in difficult, but admittedly effective conditions, “said the Chairman of the Commission of Inquiry.

He said UN investigators were able to gather over 470 testimonies “. Depositions were gathered not only in countries bordering Burundi, but also in Burundi and other countries. “Through some sources, we have been able to gather testimony from victims or witnesses currently living in Burundi who have not left their country,” Ouguergouz said.

According to him, the mission of the Commission of Inquiry on human rights in Burundi is to document all these human rights violations in the country. “A work that can be useful in the fight against impunity, especially in the absence of possible recourse to Burundi itself,” he said.

By the end of last July, the National Independent Commission on Human Rights (CNIDH) urged International Criminal Court (ICC) to cancel the preliminary examination on the alleged human rights violations in Burundi that it had launched on 25 April, 2016. “Burundian jurisdictions are enough experienced to deal with local judicial cases,” CNIDH Chairman Jean Baptiste Baribonekeza said.

CNIDH claimed that the crisis that Burundi has plunged into since 2015 is over now. “Criminality cases taking place in Burundi are similar to other cases happening in other countries”, Baribonekeza said.

The Human Rights Council has established the Commission of Inquiry on Burundi through Resolution 33/24 of 30 September 2016. Its mandate is to conduct a thorough investigation into human rights violations and abuses in Burundi since April 2015.

Burundi has plunged into a violent political crisis since President Pierre Nkurunziza announced he would run for a controversial third term, which he won in contested elections in July 2015.

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