Freedom House reports: Burundi Shuts Down Civil Society

Burundian government continues its crackdown on democracy, concretely on civil society. On November 23, 2015 it has suspended ten local human rights organizations.

Freedom House issues the following statement in response:

It is ludicrous that the government of Burundi would suspend many of the last remaining entities, including APRODH, working to promote peace and protect the fundamental rights of its citizens.

Burundi is at a severe disadvantage without an active civil society, and any remaining legitimacy is slipping away with these oppressive tactics.

The government of Burundi should immediately reverse these illegal suspensions and participate in, not just commit to, peace negotiations, which have the great potential to prevent a broader widespread conflict and reverse the country’s downward trajectory.”

A week ago, the Burundian government froze the bank accounts of some of the most prominent local human rights organizations, including FORSC, FOCODE and APRODH. Since April 2015 – when President Pierre Nkurunziza decided to pursue a third mandate violating the Arusha Accords – most civil society leaders have been forced into exile and all local independent radio stations have been shut down.

Burundi has fallen into deepening political violence since President Pierre Nkurunziza launched a bid for a third consecutive term in office. Burundi’s constitutional court backed Mr Nkurunziza’s third-term bid, as his first term as president did not count towards the constitutional two-term limit because he was chosen by MPs, rather than in a popular election. Mr Nkurunziza was duly re-elected with 70% of the vote in July. The Guardian reports multiple, credible and continuous reports of targeted killings, arbitrary arrests, torture and political repression by the government’s security forces, including violence and abuses by youth militia affiliated with the ruling party.

Nkurunziza’s opponents also have resorted to violence, it said, including murders, grenade attacks and a coup attempt earlier this year.

The BBC reports that the United States is to put sanctions on four current and former officials in Burundi in connection with the continuing violence there. Those facing the US sanctions are

  1. Public Security Minister Alain Guillaume Bunyoni
  2. The deputy director of the national police, Godefroid Bizimana
  3. Former intelligence chief Godefroid Niymombare
  4. Former Defence Minister Cyrille Ndayirukiye

Earlier in November, the UN Security Council adopted a resolution unanimously condemning the escalating violence.


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