Hunt for Burundian journalists

After Boaz Ntaconayigize, a journalist at Radio Bonesha FM exiled in Uganda was assaulted by four men armed with knives near his residence; the Chairman of Burundian Journalists Union (UBJ) expresses his deep concern about the escalation of violations of journalists’ rights up to their places of refuge.

Boaz Ntaconayigize, Bonesha FM journalist assaulted in Kampala

Boaz Ntaconayigize, Bonesha FM journalist assaulted in Kampala

In the night of 31 July, Boaz Ntaconayigize, a journalist at Bonesha FM Radio was attacked by four individuals armed with knives nearby his home in Kampala where he took refuge. He was wounded on the back and the hand.

Patrick Nduwimana, Radio Bonesha director, also in exile confirms to have received a message from Ntaconayigize saying that people from Bujumbura, probably agents of the Burundi National Intelligent Service (SNR) were trying to infiltrate into the community of Burundian refugees in Kampala and Nakivale. “Their mission was to track down the Burundian journalists and members of civil society organizations as well as refugees who participated in the demonstrations against the third term of Pierre Nkurunziza” says Nduwimana. He regretted that a week after launching this alert, he was assaulted.

Alexandre Niyungeko, the chairman of the Union of Burundian Journalists states he is deeply concerned about death threats and intimidations targeting Burundian journalists up to their place of refuge.

He calls on the Ugandan authorities to find and bring the criminals to justice. “We also ask journalists to remain vigilant about their security in order to alert immediately whenever there are signs of any eminent threat against them.”

This incident coincided with the disappearance of Jean Bigirimana, both the Iwacu Press Group journalist and Info Grands Lacs correspondent since 22 July. Nobody knows his news. Some sources claim that he was abducted by the national intelligence service (SNR) agents. An allegation that the spokesman of the Burundian police denies. For him, neither the security forces nor the SNR are responsible for this abduction.

Niyungeko says that it is incomprehensible that in a state where authorities proclaim loudly and clearly that safety is assured throughout the country, someone could disappear in that way.

“We strongly condemn this kidnapping and urge the Burundian authorities to find that journalist.”
Ntaconayigize Boaz is one of about 50 Burundian journalists who fled the country after the 2015 failed coup against the current President Pierre Nkurunziza which was followed by the destruction of five major private media. Ntaconayigize was on the microphone when Bonesha FM radio station was attacked and destroyed by security forces on 14 May, 2015