Accessibility links

Breaking News

UN: Burundi Militia Waging Campaign of Terror

FILE - UN High Commissioner for Human Rights spokesperson Rupert Colville give a press briefing on January 29, 2016 in Geneva.
FILE - UN High Commissioner for Human Rights spokesperson Rupert Colville give a press briefing on January 29, 2016 in Geneva.

The U.N. high commissioner for human rights says he is alarmed by a growing, widespread campaign of terror in Burundi being waged by government-backed militia against opponents of President Pierre Nkurunziza’s party.

The U.N. human rights office says a chilling video circulating on social media has laid bare the horrifying and alarming nature of the campaign of terror.

Rupert Colville, spokesman for High Commissioner Zeid Ra-ad al-Hussein, says the video shows more than 100 members of the Imbonerakure, the government’s youth wing, inciting violence. He says the young men are heard calling for opponents to be impregnated so they can give birth to Imbonerakure or for them to be killed.

“These grotesque rape chants by the young men of the Imbonerakure across several provinces across Burundi are deeply alarming — particularly because they confirm what we have been hearing from those who have fled Burundi about a campaign of fear and terror by this organized militia,” he said.

When the video surfaced, the ruling CNDD-FDD party initially said it was fake and had been filmed outside Burundi. After admitting the footage was real, the party said youths at one rally sang a song that "does not conform to the morals or ideology" of the party.

However, Colville says the video of this rally, which was released on April 5, is not an isolated incident, but rather the tip of the iceberg. He says his office has documented eight large rallies organized across Burundi where similar slogans inciting rape and violence against opponents have been chanted.

Colville says senior government officials reportedly have been present at some of these rallies.

While the terror campaigns are ongoing, Colville tells VOA rapes, torture and other serious human rights violations are continuing.

“Some of the reports of torture are pretty horrendous — people being burnt with hot knives, acid being poured over parts of their body, teeth broken with rifle butts, attacks on sexual organs, etc. So, very grizzly stuff,” he said.

Colville says security forces reportedly have participated in the systematic use of torture. High Commissioner Zeid is calling on the authorities in Burundi to prevent the abhorrent practice and to swiftly condemn the incitement to hatred and violence.