In Burundi, the government has called in recent weeks refugees in exile to return home, arguing that the country is now pacified and safe.
False, responds the International Initiative on Refugees Rights (IRRI).
In a report published on Thursday (August 24th), the NGO gathered the testimonies of Burundians in exile: it denounces the tortures and repression of the opponents and points the finger at the Imbonerakure, the youth section of the ruling party.
“I fled, because I was afraid of dying” is the name of the report written by the Irri that denounces the actions of the Imbonerakure.
Thijs Van Laer, spokesman for the NGO, said that the militants had turned into what he now calls a “political militia”: “This militia has been increasingly violent towards opponents politicians and also ordinary citizens in order to push them to join the ruling party.”
The Irri is based on the testimony of some thirty refugees in exile in Uganda.
According to them, the Imbonerakure were rampant with impunity all over the country:
“In some municipalities, they even take the place of security services like the police and the intelligence services. They themselves make arrests, detain citizens, they make cases of torture and even expulsions.”
Burundi’s terror group
The Imbonerakure (the Kirundi word for “those that see far”) is the youth wing of the Burundi ruling party, the National Council for the Defence of Democracy-Forces for Defence and Democracy (Conseil national pour la défense de la démocratie-Forces de défense et de la démocratie – CNDD-FDD).
Imbonerakure members are accused of beatings and injuries, extrajudicial killings, banditry as well as political killings.
Association with the Burundi GovernmentThe Imbonerakure is also suspected of collaboration with the Burundian authorities in harassing and attacking members of opposition political parties as well as opponents.
Such collusion is allegedly achieved by means of integration into administrative activities at the ground level of the national intelligence service (Service National De Renseignement – SNR) as well as cooperation with the Burundi police and the National Defence Force.