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Violence Escalating in Burundi Impacting Human Rights


FILE - Veteran rights defender Pierre-Claver Mbonimpa in Burundi, Dec. 11, 2014. (VOA / H. McNeish)

The United States calls on all parties, particularly the Government of Burundi, to renounce violence and the use of force to achieve their goals and to work toward restoring calm in the interest of all Burundian citizens.

In Burundi, a harsh crack-down by police and increased violence across the country since President Pierre Nkurunziza’s controversial win in the recent election have fueled a widespread humanitarian and human rights crisis. According to Human Rights Watch, Burundian intelligence officials, police, and youth from the ruling party have arbitrarily arrested, tortured, and even killed dozens of suspected opposition members.

Most documented cases have taken place in the capital, Bujumbura, but numerous abuses have also been taking place in the countryside. The crisis has now resulted in the flight of upwards of 200,000 Burundian refugees, with more fleeing the country every day.

One of the hallmarks of the escalating crisis in Burundi has been a spate of high-profile, targeted assassinations. On August 2nd, General Adolphe Nshimirimana, the former intelligence chief and a close ally of President Nkurunziza, was killed in a drive-by shooting. On the following day, a shooter on a motorbike gravely wounded Pierre Claver Mbonimpa, one of Burundi’s top human rights activists, and the founder and president of the Association for the Protection of Human Rights and Detained Persons. Mr. Mbonimpa had publicly opposed President Nkurunziza's bid for a third term. We condemn these brutal attacks and call for those responsible to be brought to justice immediately. Such acts of violence do not serve the citizens of Burundi and only contribute to further instability.

The United States calls on all parties, particularly the Government of Burundi, to renounce violence and the use of force to achieve their goals and to work toward restoring calm in the interest of all Burundian citizens. The United States urges all stakeholders to recommit to a political dialogue, as the best means of restoring stability to Burundi and avoiding further violence.

In response to the attack against Pierre Claver Mbonimpa, State Department Deputy Spokesman Mark Toner stated, “This attack reinforces the urgent need for the government and the peaceful opposition to work together in pursuit of a consensus and find a peaceful path forward for the people of Burundi. Failure to do so carries with it the risk that Burundi’s political crisis will only deepen and further undermine the peace and stability enabled by the Arusha Agreement over the past decade.”

“We call upon all stakeholders to exercise calm and restraint and avoid provocative statements and acts. We urge the Government of Burundi to ensure the safety of Mr. Mbonimpa, and our thoughts and prayers are with him and his family, and for the sake of the citizens of Burundi, we wish him a safe and speedy recovery.”

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