Égide Sindayigaya died in the early hours of in a police detention centre in Rumonge province, after being tortured by the intelligence service. A few days earlier, intelligence agents had beaten the 64-year-old man with a whip-like instrument, jabbed a needle into him, forced him to lie on sharp metal bottle caps, and threatened to cut him into pieces. The torture was designed to extract information about his brother, Déogratias Niyongabo, alias Côme, and other suspected armed government opponents.
In the month before Égide’s death, four people were killed in Burambi, in Rumonge province, where Égide lived. Égide’s brother Côme and Protais Niyungeko, both accused of being armed opponents, were arrested and later shot dead by the police. Two local government leaders were murdered in circumstances that remain unclear. More than a dozen people have been arrested, many of them arbitrarily, because of their family ties or perceived association with those killed.
The Burundi Human Rights Initiative’s report, “Rumonge: torture and killings in the name of security”, documents these events and the government’s contradictory explanations of what took place. It also reveals how the intelligence service tortured at least six other detainees, from three different provinces, in late and early .
These serious violations fly in the face of President Évariste Ndayishimiye’s promises to ensure respect for the law and end impunity. The gap between his rhetoric and the reality – and the authorities’ apparent lack of interest in holding those responsible to account – are an insult to the victims and their families in Burambi.