UN Confirms Gang Rape, Mass Graves in Burundi
The UN has confirmed multiple cases of gang rape carried out by Burundi security forces and mass graves in a growing list of human rights violations in the country.
UN Human Rights Commissioner Zeid Raad Al-Hussein revealed the “new and extremely disturbing patterns of violations” following attacks on three military bases in December. At least 87 people were killed by security forces in the days following the attacks – as part of a brutal backlash – and violence has escalated ever since.
New depths of violence in Burundi
Burundi was plunged into conflict April last year after President Nkurunziza announced he would run for a third term in office. The extent of violence in the country – particularly the capital Bujumbura – surged on multiple occasions throughout the remainder of the year, but peaked after the army base attacks in December.
Dead bodies have become a regular presence on the streets of Bujumbura. Organised killings, assassination attempts and targeted attacks between security forces and opposition fighters in the city have killed hundreds and forced around 250,000 to flee the country.
The nation’s security forces have dominated recent attacks, however, after the government pledged to wipe out its opponents in December. Mass killings, torture, ethnic violence and gang rape against those who protested Nkurunziza’s third term have emerged in the latest trend of human rights violations by security forces in the country.
A surge in sexual assaults
Health workers in Burundi have revealed a surge of sexual assaults in the country – particularly in areas known as opposition quarters, where dissent against the government is believed to be strongest.
These areas have suffered the worst of extrajudicial killings, torture and arrests. Victims were believed to mostly consist of men involved in protests against the government, however, reports of sexual assaults on women in these areas are on the rise.
An increasing number of victims have also revealed they have been the subject of ethnically driven violence, compounding fears that Burundi could descend into an ethnic conflict, similar to the 1994 Rwanda genocide.