Report: Burundian officials buried opponents in mass graves

by Onize Ohikere
Posted 2/02/16, 08:30 am

Amnesty International has accused Burundian security forces of mass burials based on evidence from satellite images, video footage, and witness accounts.

On Dec. 11, gunmen attacked three military bases in Bujumbura, Burundi’s capital. Local security responded by attacking and killing more than 20 locals and eventually burying them in mass graves, according to Amnesty International.

“These images suggest a deliberate effort by the authorities to cover up the extent of the killings by their security forces and to prevent the full truth from coming out,” Muthoni Wanyeki, a regional director for Amnesty International said in a statement.

The organization collected before and after images and video footage, which it used to locate five possible mass graves in the outskirts of Bujumbura. Witnesses also said police searched surrounding neighborhoods for the bodies of the dead and took them to undisclosed locations.

Burundi’s government dismissed the accusations as an attack from the regime’s opponents.

The country’s unrest began in April when President Pierre Nkurunziza announced his bid for a third term—a violation of the constitution’s two-term limit. Since then, the country has struggled through street protests and a failed coup. It remains on the brink of another civil war. At least 400 people died in the clashes and more than 230,000 have fled the crisis-stricken country since April, according to the United Nations.

“There’s definitely going to be more violence,” said Thierry Vircoulon, a senior consultant for Central Africa with the International Crisis Group. “There’s been no solution in sight for quite a long time now.”

The African Union (AU) moved to deploy 5,000 troops to Burundi as a peacekeeping force during its summit in Ethiopia last week. But Burundian officials rejected the offer, describing it as an invasion force.

“We have said that the deployment of this force is not justified, and we gave the reasons for this rejection, that we believe that the situation in the country is under control,” Aimé Nyamitwe, Burundi’s foreign minister and representative, said at the AU summit.

Instead, the African Union will continue to facilitate more dialogue between Burundi’s opposing forces, despite the futility of previous negotiations.

Onize Ohikere

Onize is a reporter for WORLD Digital based in Abuja, Nigeria.

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