Missing Burundi Opposition Leader Dead, Police Confirm
Burundi police have confirmed that an opposition leader who went missing last week has been found dead.
Charlotte Umugwaneza, who is a leading member of the Movement for Solidarity and Development (MSD) party, was found dead in the Gikoma river, a police spokesperson revealed earlier this week.
Burundi secret service accused
Umugwaneza’s family accused Burundi’s secret service of detaining the activist after she went missing on October 16, in what people described strange circumstances. Her family had suspected the opposition leader would be targeted after she fled to Rwanda (where her family originates), before recently returning to Burundi.
Umugwaneza was in the process of moving from Cibitoke to the northern neighbourhood of Ngagara, in a bid to escape violence, when she went missing. On the morning of October 18 photos of the body of a woman found near the capital started circulating on social media – later confirmed as Umugwaneza.
While Umugwaneza’s body was allegedly found in the river, photos provided so family members could identify her show no traces of water. Umugwaneza’s hair is also dry in the pictures and patches of dust and blood are visible on the body – suggesting she was murdered elsewhere.
Police could not confirm the origins of the images in question – or when they were taken – but said an investigation has been launched.
Human rights activist and key opposition figure, Pacifique Nininahazwe, suggests the images were taken to deliver a clear message to the people:
“We see very little blood next to the body, which leads us to believe she was killed elsewhere. One has the impression that the assassins were determined that the images of the tortured body were shared,” he said on social media.
“Her family loses a mother. I lose a companion of struggle,” he added.