Burundi: President’s Speech Instills Fear as Killings Increase


Security Council on October 17. International and regional actors should use all available channels to sustain pressure on Nkurunziza to prevent further
violence, Human Rights Watch said.
The UN secretary-general, Ban Ki-moon, and the chairperson of the African Union Commission, Dr. Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, should lead high-level
delegations to Bujumbura to meet Nkurunziza and urge him to hold the police and the intelligence services accountable for their actions. The delegations
should also address the lack of credible investigations into recent killings, the lack of independence of the justice system, and attacks by opposition
sympathizers against security forces.
The African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights should accelerate its investigation into human rights violations and other abuses in Burundi, as
per the African Union’s Peace and Security Council statement on October 17, and ensure that it publishes a report on its findings in a timely manner. The
commission should appoint experienced, independent members for this investigation who can focus particular attention on killings by state security
forces and opposition sympathizers and lay the ground for effective independent criminal investigations.
When Nkurunziza took his oath of office for his third term on August 20, he promised that “investigations are happening and, sooner or later, those who
are killing people will be apprehended and severely sanctioned.” Yet no information is available on any prosecutions for these killings.
“President Nkurunziza needs to stick to his word,” Bekele said. “To prove that Burundi is a country where the security forces aren’t above the law, he
should publicly and unequivocally condemn all killings and make sure there are thorough, independent investigations and prosecutions regarding all such
For further details about the killings, please see below. 
The Bujumbura Killings
Human Rights Watch’s research, conducted between July and November 2015, focused primarily on killings in and around Bujumbura. Several people
have also been killed in the provinces. In an October 12 news release, the Public Security Minister Alain Guillaume Bunyoni noted that police had
registered 130 “assassinations” in the country between July and September. He did not give a breakdown of casualties.
Since late July, Human Rights Watch has kept track of three patterns of killings in Bujumbura: killings during police raids after police were attacked by
opposition sympathizers; killings directed at high-profile people with clear political affiliations; and killings of sometimes unidentified victims by
unknown gunmen who dumped their bodies in the streets.
Deadly Police Raids
Demonstrations against President Pierre Nkurunziza’s bid for a third term began in April and were brutally suppressed by the police. After a failed coup
led by a group of military officers on May 13, police intensified their crackdown on protesters. Since then, there have been sporadic attacks against
security forces and persistent rumors that some Burundians have been forming an armed opposition movement in exile. The government’s closure of
Burundi’s main private radio stations in April and May and repeated government threats against human rights groups, leaving them unable to operate
freely, have meant that many abuses and other events go unreported.
Police spokesman Pierre Nkurikiye told Human Rights Watch on October 28 that grenades have sporadically been thrown at the police, usually when
they respond to incidents in neighborhoods. He said 26 policemen had been killed since April. Burundian human rights activists believe the real number
of police killed is higher.
Bizimana, the police deputy director general, told Human Rights Watch: “People take advantage at night and attack the police. They have grenades. The
police retaliate by shooting at the people who threw grenades.”
These attacks on police have sometimes triggered deadly reprisal attacks by police and men in police uniforms. Activists, residents, and a former police
official told Human Rights Watch they believed some Imbonerakure wear police uniforms and accompany real policemen during incursions into
neighborhoods. Based on interviews with witnesses and past practices, Human Rights Watch believes that some Imbonerakure worked closely with the
police during the October 3 attack in Cibitoke, as they have done in past incidents documented by Human Rights Watch.
Most of the victims of the October Cibitoke, Mutakura, and Ngagara attacks appear to have been residents whom the police killed randomly, simply
because they happened to be in the area where policemen had been attacked or abducted. There are no indications that the police singled out these
particular individuals on the basis of their identity.
October 3 Attack in Cibitoke and Mutakura
At about 11 a.m., residents of Cibitoke neighborhood in Bujumbura heard gunfire. A police official told Human Rights Watch that police had been called
to the neighborhood to intervene in an incident and were attacked. Later that afternoon, police, accompanied by youths in civilian clothes, entered
Cibitoke from Kamenge neighborhood. A witness told Human Rights Watch that some of the youths, who the witness thought were Imbonerakure,
entered a compound and yelled at the inhabitants hiding in their houses:
“These imbeciles who shoot us at night, bring out these dogs, and we’re going to show them!” A woman in her [nearby] house yelled back at
them: “They aren’t here. Truly, there is no one here.” They [two youths in civilian clothes] wanted to enter other compounds. A policeman
with them said: “That’s not what we agreed on; I’m going to shoot at you!” He said to them [the two in civilian clothes]: “You came here to
do this?”
The civilians and the policeman left the compound and stayed on the 10th avenue in Cibitoke. At least one witness recognized Imbonerakure among
those in civilian clothes.
A witness overheard some of the youths speaking on the phone to someone they called “commissioner.” They said there was an operation in Cibitoke,
and they were “in control of the sector.” They mentioned people who “are going to wear the uniforms” and that one person was already wearing a
uniform. The others, they said, “are not in uniforms.”
The policemen and men in civilian clothes stopped two men who were returning home that evening. One of the men was Eloi Ndimira, a 54-year-old
disabled man. A witness said:

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