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HRW Report Details Burundi Violence, Tensions

The body of a man killed is laid on a street in Bujumbura, Burundi after polls opened for the presidential elections Tuesday, July 21, 2015. Violence began in April after President Pierre Nkurnziza announced he would seek a third term in office, which the political opposition called unconstitutional. (AP Photo/Jerome Delay)

The recent assassination of Burundi’s former security chief and the attempted assassination of a prominent human rights leader underscore the growing tension in the country.

However, a new report by Human Rights Watch said there’s also been a “spate of arbitrary arrests and torture” since April. That’s when violence first erupted after President Pierre Nkurunziza announced he would seek a third term.

HRW said, “Burundian intelligence officials, police, and youth from the ruling party have arbitrarily arrested and ill-treated scores of suspected opponents. Officials accuse many of the mostly young men arrested of trying to leave the country and planning to join an armed rebellion.”

It added that it “documented more than 148 cases between April and July 2015 in four provinces and in the capital, Bujumbura, involving intelligence officials, police, and members of the ruling National Council for the Defense of Democracy-Forces for the Defense of Democracy (CNDD-FDD) youth league, known as Imbonerakure (“those who see far” in Kirundi). Most of these cases occurred in June and July. Many of those arrested were beaten, tortured, or otherwise ill-treated.”

Carina Tertsakian is the Human Rights Watch senior researcher on Burundi. From London, she spoke to VOA’s Joe De Capua about insecurity in the country. To hear the interview, click on the link below.

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