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Burundi | A country held hostage by the power of the CNDD-FDD party
Déclaration  Posté le 07:34 26-04-2024, modifié le 07:34 26-04-2024 par Tournons La Page

The organizations signing this declaration commemorate the tragic day of April 26, 2015 in Burundi's socio-political history. On that day, the ruling party of the National Council for the Defense of Democracy - Forces for the Defense of Democracy (CNDD-FDD : Conseil National pour la Défense de la Démocratie – Forces de Défense de la Démocratie) carried out a bloody crackdown on demonstrators demanding constitutional legality and respect of the Arusha Agreement for peace and reconciliation in Burundi.

Burundians remember the thousands of citizens who, after the late President Pierre Nkurunziza had served two consecutive terms, took to the streets after the CNDD-FDD party announced that he would run for a third term in 2015, in flagrant violation of the Constitution and the Arusha Agreement.

This was followed by a bloody repression of all forms of opposition. Many citizens, political opponents, members of civil society organizations and the media lost their lives, independent press agencies were vandalized, civil society organizations were suspended or deregistered... This led thousands of Burundians into exile and increasing impoverishment for those who remained in the country, consequences of the political crisis of 2015 which is still unresolved.

On the occasion of the 9th anniversary of the start of the peaceful demonstrations of April 26, 2015 against the third term of office of the late President Pierre Nkurunziza, it is appropriate to recall the major contextual developments that characterized this citizen mobilization, during and after on various levels.

On the political and security front, thousands of Burundians took to the streets in peaceful protest against this violation of the Constitution and the Arusha Agreement. The protesters were shot at with live ammunition by some of the security forces operating in conjunction with the Imbonerakure militia, affiliated to the CNDD-FDD party. One of the most emblematic cases was that of Jean Népomuscène Komezamahoro, a young man of 16, the first victim to be shot in the head by a policeman at point-blank range on April 26, 2015, as he knelt on Avenue Buconyori in the Ngagara district of Bujumbura Mairie, begging for his life.

According to the UN, reprisals for Pierre Nkurunziza's controversial 3rd term in office have resulted in 1,200 deaths and more than 250,000 Burundian refugees, many of whom remain in exile for fear of reprisals against opponents or perceived opponents of the CNDD-FDD regime[1].

The signatory civil society organizations pay tribute to these martyrs and express their solidarity and sympathy to the families of the victims (killed, disappeared, imprisoned) and the hundreds of thousands of exiles languishing in refugee camps, not forgetting the internally displaced who are regularly the targets of various acts of persecution. The same applies to human rights activists, opponents and ex-Forces Armées Burundaises (FAB) soldiers, victims of arrests, enforced disappearances and illegal imprisonment orchestrated by the current government.

On the political and legal front, the CNDD-FDD government has created a legal framework orchestrating a general shrinkage of the public sphere, and with it, a serious step backwards for democracy. For example

  • Law No 1/02 of January 27, 2017 establishing an organic framework for non-profit associations. (ASBL)[2],
  • The promulgation of the so-called "referendum" Constitution of June 07, 2018 to allow CNDD-FDD candidates to run for two more additional terms of seven years each and definitively bury the Arusha Peace and Reconciliation Agreement.

This accompanied by hate speech and growing political intolerance that have been observed since 2015 and are conveyed by the country's activists and top executives[3]. Since 2016, more than a dozen civil society organizations have been deregistered or suspended by simple decision of the Minister of the Interior.

The Burundian judiciary has become an instrument of political repression, used to hunt down, intimidate and silence any voice of dissent to the CNDD-FDD's schemes. The most serious charges are still "Attack on the Internal Security of the State and Rebellion", and are the most frequently used, notably in the illegal trials of opponents of the ruling power and human rights activists. As a result, more than 30 opponents and human rights activists have been sentenced in absentia to life imprisonment.

Faced with these worrying developments, in May 2015, the forum of civil society organizations at sub-regional level, EACSOF referred the matter to the Court of Justice of the East African Community to invalidate Pierre Nkurunziza's unconstitutional third term.

Its verdict, delivered in September 2022, was clear: "the last controversial Mandate of the late President Pierre Nkurunziza (2015 to 2020) was illegal and violated the content of the Arusha Agreement". It then condemned Burundi's constitutional court for having issued a ruling authorizing an "illegal mandate". Despite this, no change has occurred to date.

This decision by the Regional Court, obtained after 6 years of legal battle, has re-established the legal and historical truth. It recognized the legitimacy of the struggle for constitutional legality launched on April 26, 2015 by the nation's living forces, in legendary unity." On the diplomatic front, Burundi has adopted an aggressive policy towards some of Burundi's partners and certain countries since 2015. For example, insulting demonstrations have been organized against the European Union, Burundi's main donor; Belgium, Burundi's former colonizing country; and Rwanda, Burundi's neighboring country. The borders between the two neighbors have been closed since January 11, 2024.

The closure of the borders with Rwanda for the second time since January 2024 is a serious infringement of the free movement of goods, people and services within the EAC region.

It reinforces the poverty of families living on cross-border trade and causes enormous losses for traders and transporters. On the occasion of the commemoration of the 9th anniversary of the demonstrations for legality, democracy and respect for the principle of term limits in Burundi, the present declaration is intended to bring to the attention of the national and international community the consequences of the violation of the Burundi Constitution of 2005 and of the Arusha Agreement for peace and reconciliation in Burundi, orchestrated by the CNDD-FDD party.

The signatory organizations of the present declaration note with regret that civic space is shrinking further, another denial of pluralist democracy leading to a concealed monopartism. The most recent example is the pseudo-congress of the Congrès National pour la Liberté (CNL) organized under the auspices of the Ministry of the Interior and Public Security, which had no other objective than to eject the Honourable Rwasa Agathon as head of the party, representing the country's second largest political force.

The signatory civil society organizations, reiterate their commitment to continue the fight against impunity and ongoing atrocities by continuing to monitor, document, denounce and advocate for all cases of human rights violations in Burundi as well as the growing impunity against the perpetrators of various exactions.

The signatory organizations call on the United Nations, the African Union, Burundi's various countries and partner organizations to continue to closely monitor the volatile situation in Burundi and the region, in order to help find a lasting solution to the ongoing crisis.

The signatory civil society organizations call on the States of the East African Community and its Court of Justice to use their power to compel the Gitega government to put an immediate stop to human rights violations, and to establish peace and stability in the region, as a guarantee of democracy.

Signed on April 26, 2024

The signatory organizations:

  1. Action des Chrétiens pour l’abolition de la torture au Burundi (ACAT Burundi)
  2. Association des Journalistes Burundais en Exil (AJBE)
  3. Association burundaise pour la protection des droits de l’homme et des personnes détenues (APRODH)
  4. Coalition Burundaise des Défenseurs des Droits Humains (CBDDH)
  5. Coalition burundaise des défenseurs des droits de l’homme vivant dans les camps des réfugiés (CBDH/VICAR)
  6. Coalition Burundaise pour la Cour Pénale Internationale (CB-CPI)
  7. Coalition de la société civile pour le monitoring électoral (COSOME)
  8. Collectif des Avocats pour la défense des Victimes de crimes de droit international commis au Burundi (CAVIB)
  9. Ensemble pour le soutien des défenseurs des droits humains en danger (ESDDH)
  10. Forum pour la Conscience et de Développement (FOCODE)
  11. Forum pour le Renforcement de la société civile au Burundi (FORSC)
  12. Light for all
  13. Ligue ITEKA
  14. Mouvement INAMAHORO
  15. Mouvement des femmes et filles pour la paix et la sécurité au Burundi (MFFPS)
  16. Réseau des Citoyens Probes (RCP)
  17. SOS Torture Burundi (SOS-TB)
  18. Tournons La Page Burundi (TLP-Burundi)
  19. Tournons La Page International
  20. Union Burundaise des Journalistes (UBJ)


Photo : Burundian police chase demonstrators protesting against a 3rd term for President Pierre Nkurunziza, Friday, April 17, 2015. | Author: VOA | Source