Opposition Slams Burundi for Torturing, Killing Opponents

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Opposition members in Burundi have slammed the government’s security forces for the intimidation, torture and killing of opponents in recent months.

Victims and witnesses who have survived the ordeals plaguing Burundi’s streets and prisons have been quite vocal about the grim details. Speaking under the condition of anonymity, locals have told their stories but an independent investigation is yet to materialise.

 

Torture tactics

One victim recently told DW of his ordeal with Burundi security forces, once again requesting his identity be protected.

“They tied me up, beat me with their belts and kicked me, out on the street in broad daylight,” he told the news publication. The man was arrested in the capital city Bujumbura, where the country’s violence is most intense, before being taken to Ndadaye police station.

“We had to lie down. They beat our backs with barbed wire. It was terrible,” he added.

Numerous victims are quoted in the same story, each revealing their own accounts of attacks on the people by police and gunmen dressed in military uniforms. Months after protests against President Nkurunziza’s campaign for a third term ended, the torture and killing of those who opposed the president continues.

 

Burundi dismisses accusations

The Burundi government has dismissed accusations of wrongdoing from victims and opposition members. Presidential spokesman Jean-Claude Karerwa Ndenzako publically claimed to know nothing of the events in question, hinting that the perpetrators have no affiliation with the government.

“Not everybody who is dressed as a police officer or soldier is one,” he told reporters. “We need time and patience for such investigations so that we can hold the perpetrators accountable.”

The complexity of Burundi’s political situation has been acknowledged by international bodies. However, the priority for now is to bring violence in the country to an end and then focus on attributing responsibilities.

Peace talks between government and rebel representatives are ongoing and officials from neighbouring countries have expressed optimism that an agreement could yet be reached.

 

Featured image:

Burundi soldiers” by KALOU KAKA – Kalou Kaka. Licensed under GFDL via Commons.