There were clashes between the
protestors and armed police in Bujumburaas the police fired teargas to
breakdown the crowds and even blocked access to some parts of the city while
some citizens fled the country to the neighbouring countries. Nkurunziza’s
campaign created a split between his supporters and opponents in the country
that had suffered a 13 year civil war and two genocides in the past. President
Pierre won the election in a predictable landslide victory which was stained by
violence and oppositional boycots. The elections were condemned as not
credible, by countries like the United States, due to the harrasment and
intimidation of the opposition, rights activists, journalists and voters.
Nkurunziza’s swearing in was also kept sectret until the actual day he was
being sworn in and he termed his win as a voctory for all Burundians. He also
threatened his opponents during that ceremony by alleging that they would be
punished by God and that he would scatter them like flour in the air.
At this point demonstrators felt
that there was no other peaceful means of expressing themselves and they were
forced to result to violence while puching for change. This made the government
forces target their opponents with increased brutality than before.
Security forces often in
collaboration with members of the ruling party’s youth league, the
Imbonerakune, were responsible for the numerous killings, disappearances,
abductions, torture, rape and arbitrary arrests of the people. There were mass
killings of the opponents of the government as thousands of bodies, some
mutilated were found across the country some showing evidence of torture as
some bodies were forund with their arms tied behind their backs. In December
2015, the police and the military shot dead a number of residents in the
capital city following attacks on four military installations attributed to the
opposition. The police were alleged to breaking in to people’s houses and
dragging out the young men and torturing them before killing them eventually.
Dead bodies were found on the streets and the police claimed that they were
armed enemies of the government. They often dug mass graves and burried the
The citizens of Burundi were
tortured. Intelligence agents who worked for the Burundi government beat
detainees particularly of alleged
opposition sympathizers with hammers and steel construction bars, drove sharpened
steel rods into their legs, dripped melting plastic on them, tied cords around
the men’s genitals and used elastic shocks on them. Many of the tortured
detainees were denied medical attention which caused some of them to loose
their lives and only a few survived with lifelong injuries and trauma.
Women were being dicriminated as
the police and members of the Inbonerakure raped women whose family members
were percieved government opponents. In some cases, the police attacked the
male relatives before raping the women and went on to threaten the women after
raping them. The police and the Inbonerakure also raped women who attempted to
cross the border into Tanzania to scare them from leaving the country.
The police often carried out large
scale arbitrary arrests specifically arresting the people who were opposing the
government without their warrants of arrests. Some of the arrested people are
still in custody while others are feared to have been tortured to death and
burried in mass graves.
The international treaties at play
The International Covenant on Civil
and Political Rights; this treaty seeks to protect the individual from the
ecstacies of the state. This is because it provides an opportunity upon
individuals to contribute to the determination of laws and participation in the
government. The people of Burundi were protesting the president’s third term in
office because the constitution only allows a president to run for two terms.
Burundians tried to peacefully protest against this violation of their
constitution but instead the government responded violently by ignoring these
rights that they owe the people.
The Convention Against Torture; this treaty binds both state and non-state
actors from commiting any cruel and inhumane forms of punishments toward any
human beings. However the police and some government officials in
Burundicommitted crimes of torture toward the opposers of president Nkurunziza.
Convention on the Elimination of
Discrimination Against Women; this treaty binds state and non-state actors from
violently attacking or disciminating women and children who are considered as
one of the most vulnerable beings globally. Women in Burundi were brutally
raped by the police and the Inbonerakure even while trying to seek refuge in
the neighbouring countries.
Convention on the Prevention and
Punishment of the Crime of Genocide; this is a universal treaty that seeks to
prevent state and non-state actors from performing mass killings based on race,
religion or political affiliation. The Burundi government killed a number of
its citizens specifically targeting the opponents of the government.
In the regional level, the African
Unionis the main human rights protecting organisation in the continent. The
African Union adopted the Banjul Charter which is the African Charter on Human
and people’s rights to protect and promote people’s rights. Burundi is a member
of the African Union Charte and is signatory to the Banjul Charter with no
provisions or reservations.
Burundi is signatory to the
treaties that is ICCPR, the convention against torture, the convention on the
elimination of all forms of discrimination against women and the convention on
the prevention and punishment of the crime of genocide with no reservations or
provisions. It is difficult for the state to implement them because of
legitimacy in that president Nkuruzanzi was not widely accepted by all the
Burundians and that is the reason why he had to use force to attain his third
term as president by intimidating his opponents. The use of force included the
illegal arrests made to the opposition without producing warrants at the time
of the arrest and intimidating the opposition leaders for example 16 members of
the opposition were arrested at a bar and the police claimed that they were
conducting a political meeting without authorization.