The Burundi Human Rights Initiative

Former president Pierre Nkurunziza, 2017. ©2020 Private
Former president Pierre Nkurunziza, . © Private

A façade of peace in a land of fear

Behind Burundi’s human rights crisis

In its report, “A façade of peace in a land of fear: Behind Burundi’s human rights crisis”, the Burundi Human Rights Initiative reveals what Burundi’s government doesn’t want you to know: the human rights crisis continues as the country heads towards elections in .

The ruling party has attempted to cover up brutal acts of political violence in which scores of government opponents have been quietly arrested, abducted or killed. Members of the ruling party youth league, the Imbonerakure, have discarded bodies under the cover of darkness and sometimes buried them in cemeteries, far from where the victims were abducted or killed.

The government insists that the country is peaceful and safe. But Burundians know the truth: if you oppose the government, you risk your life. As fear has spread among the population, silence has become a form of protection. A Burundian summed it up best: “Look and keep quiet. Even if someone is raped, even if your brother is killed, don’t say anything.”

BHRI’s report shines a light on the violence and those orchestrating it and analyses the political dynamics that allow the perpetrators of these crimes to act with impunity. As Burundi heads towards elections in , there is a window of opportunity for action. Burundian and international actors should seize the moment to prevent a further escalation of Burundi’s human rights crisis.

The report entitled “A façade of peace in a land of fear: Behind Burundi’s human rights crisis” is available in English and French. A summary of the report is available in Kirundi.