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Iwacu pays tribute to Jean Bigirimana, two years after his disappearance

On Friday, July 22, 2016, Jean Bigirimana, Iwacu journalist was reported missing to not be back any more. This Sunday, July 22, 2018, it was exactly two years day after day since he disappeared. His colleagues reaffirm their commitment to seeking the truth about his going missing and staying professional.

Léandre Sikuyavuga: "Who kidnapped our colleague and Why?"

Léandre Sikuyavuga: “We have hope that the truth about the disappearance of Jean Bigirimana will be known one day”

In the morning of Sunday, July 22nd, the colleagues of Jean Bigirimana arrive one by one at the headquarters of Iwacu newspaper. It’s a sad and special day. They come to commemorate his death two years after his disappearance.They are dressed in black shirts or t-shirts, with the journalist’s effigy. The color symbolizes the mourning, which started two years ago.The Burundian tradition requires that the family goes into the mourning after the burial. However, this can’t be done as the journalist is still reported missing.

At 11:55 a.m., the journalists gather in front of the portrait in memory of the missing journalist. Two lines have been formed in honor of Jean Bigirimana. Some know Jean for having worked, exchanged with him. Other younger journalists only know him through his portrait and sad story. Time flies. They cannot understand how two years go by without any light on the journalist’s disappearance.
They started with a prayer which was followed by a song. A colleague from web radio, very close to Jean Bigirimana shed some tears in front of his portrait and others broke down into sobs.”Who kidnapped our colleague? Why? “asked Léandre Sikuyavuga, Iwacu chief editor, in his message. He recalls that the same question has been asked since the past two years. Even in case of offense, his disappearance could not be the right answer. Mr. Sikuyavuga reiterated Iwacu’s commitment to always keep asking for the light about the journalist’s disappearance: “We will tirelessly continue to seek the truth about his going missing”.

“They created a legend”

Iwacu chief editor calls on Jean’s colleagues to continue doing their job with professionalism, passion and determination: “If we stop, Jean will blame us forever. It’s difficult, as we’re sometimes scared. However, let’s stay standing “.

He exhorts them to be the voice of the voiceless, the voice of all Burundians and give the floor to all without any distinction. “History will one day reveal that some journalists refused silence and indifference in Burundi and never accepted to give in even after the disappearance of their colleague Jean Bigirimana.”Léandre Sikuyavuga says there is hope that the truth will out one day.

For Antoine Kaburahe, Iwacu director of publications, there is no hope of seeing Jean Bigirimana alive again: “Two years after his disappearance, we can dare to write that Jean Bigirimana is no longer alive. He got killed. Some sources reveal that his body would have been thrown somewhere after brutal torture as this has been done for many others, “he wrote at the beginning of the compilation of messages that all Iwacu journalists wrote to their missing colleague.

According to Antoine Kaburahe, Jean is still alive: “They lost, you won. You are immortal, Jean! Through your wife, your two children, whom we also remember today, through Iwacu journalists, the old, the new, those in exile, they killed a man but created a legend,” said Kaburahe.Two journalists laid a wreath at the portrait of Jean Bigirimana, at the printing house, on the premises of Iwacu Press Group.

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