Chairman of teachers’ union arrested in southern Burundi

The chairman of the General Union of Teaching Staff in Burundi (SYGEPEBU) spent the second night in the police station of Rutana province in southern Burundi.

Antoine Manuma, SYGEPEBU chairman detained in Rutana

Gérard Niyongabo, Chairman of the Union of Professional Teachers in Burundi (SEPEDUC] says Antoine Manuma, SYGEPEBU chairman was arrested in the evening of 8 January by the head of the National Intelligence Services in Rutana province.

Niyongabo fears that he may also be arrested at any time. He accuses the Special Coalition of Teachers’ Unions for National Solidarity (COSSESONA) of being involved in this arrest. “We are accused of opposing the forced deduction of BIF 500 from the teachers’ salaries imposed by COSSESONA,” deplores Niyongabo.

He reassures all teachers and asks them to continue their daily task despite this situation. He also urges them to sign and relay the online petition launched by both trade unions SYGEPEBU and SEPEDUC against the forced deductions from their wages imposed by COSSESONA.

Mr. Niyongabo asked COSSESONA representatives to respect the law. “If they chose to arrest us, it is not their job.” He demands the justice to do its job.

Contacted, Victor Ndabaniwe, the representative of COSSESONA, said that he had indeed asked the prosecution office to arrest the leaders of both trade unions. According to him, they would have committed offenses for which justice will have to hear them.

In a press release issued on 5 January, 2020, COSSESONA representative accused SYGEPEBU and SEPEDUC of relaying messages on social media undermining the honor and security of COSSESONA representatives. He called on the government to ask the competent courts to rule on their acts.