heres whats happening in burundi and why the us is worried about human rights
Last updated on January 9th, 2024 at 10:31 am
Burundi, a small African country that has been plagued by political violence and human rights abuses for decades, is facing a new wave of repression and instability under the rule of President Évariste Ndayishimiye. The United States, which has been a major donor and partner of Burundi, has raised alarms over the deteriorating human rights situation and urged the government to respect its international obligations and commitments.
What are the human rights violations and who are the perpetrators?
The human rights violations in Burundi include unlawful or arbitrary killings, forced disappearances, torture, arbitrary arrests and detentions, political prisoners, restrictions on freedom of expression and assembly, and violence against women and minorities.
These violations are perpetrated mainly by the security forces, the intelligence service, and the ruling party’s youth wing, known as the Imbonerakure, who act with impunity and often target perceived opponents, critics, or activists.
According to the report of the UN Commission of Inquiry on Burundi, which was established in 2016 to investigate the human rights situation in the country, the violations have continued and intensified since Ndayishimiye took office in June 2020, following a flawed election that was marred by intimidation and violence.
The commission documented hundreds of cases of killings, disappearances, torture, and sexual violence, as well as numerous cases of harassment, threats, and arrests of journalists, human rights defenders, and members of the opposition.
The commission also found that the violations were systematic and widespread and that they amounted to crimes against humanity. The commission concluded that the violations were driven by a political agenda that aimed to silence dissent, consolidate power, and eliminate any potential challenge to the ruling party.
Why is the US worried and what is it doing?
The US is worried about the human rights situation in Burundi because it affects the stability and security of the country and the region, and because it undermines the democratic values and principles that the US supports and promotes.
The US is also concerned about the humanitarian and health consequences of the violations, as they have caused massive displacement, poverty, and suffering for the Burundian people, and have increased the risks of diseases, such as Covid-19.
The US has been taking various actions to address the human rights situation in Burundi, such as:
- Providing humanitarian assistance and support to the Burundian refugees and host communities in neighboring countries, such as Tanzania, Rwanda, and Uganda.
- Supporting the efforts of the African Union, the East African Community, and the UN to facilitate dialogue and mediation among the Burundian stakeholders, and to monitor and report on the human rights situation.
- Imposing sanctions and visa restrictions on individuals and entities responsible for or involved in human rights violations, corruption, or undermining democracy in Burundi.
- Calling on the Burundian government to end the violations, release the political prisoners, cooperate with the international mechanisms, and engage in inclusive and constructive dialogue with the opposition and civil society.
The US, therefore, is alarmed by the human rights situation in Burundi and is urging the Burundian government to respect and protect the rights and freedoms of its people. The US, however, also recognizes the potential and the opportunity for positive change and reform in Burundi, and is willing to work with the Burundian government and other partners to support the peace and development of the country.