Politics

Imbonerakure and inyankamugayo from Gashikanwa commune at loggerheads. An incomplete investigation

Clashes erupted on July 15 between the Imbonerakure (youth of the ruling party CNDD-FDD) and the Inyankamugayo (members of the National Congress for Liberty-CNL). In Gitanga locality of Gashikanwa commune and on Masasu hill of the nearby commune of Kiremba in Ngozi province, the situation is tense. Both parties hurl accusations at each other. Arrests are still ongoing and the targets are especially CNL party members. Iwacu journalists have conducted an on-site investigation but have not been able to complete it.

In Gitanga, the atmosphere is tense between the Imbonerakure and CNL party members

The small village of Mahorovya in Gitanga hill of Gatobo area is almost a desert. Some children are selling sugar cane. Others are washing their clothes in a stream.The few adult people form small groups of two or three. They are not doing anything. They talk in a low voice. Two moms are selling tomatoes and eggplants. In the marsh that separates Gashikanwa and Kiremba communes, there are female farmers who are plowing their fields.

It is 10 o’clock on Wednesday, July 17. It’s unusually calm in Mahorovya area. Only one shop is open. The others, about ten, are closed.”Usually, the little center is teeming with people at this hour,” says a resident from Gitanga hill. What happened then? “A lot of people are hiding. They do not dare to be seen on the road,” says another inhabitant, discreetly. Why? “Some are wanted by the police because of what happened last Monday.” According to residents of Gitanga hill, the atmosphere is tense between the Imbonerakure (youth of the ruling party CNDD-FDD and Inyankamugayo (CNL party members). But also, because of the arrests and manhunt operated by the police.


The clashes of Monday, July 15th

It all started on Sunday, July 14th with the beating of Constantin Bavumiragiye and his wife Marie Mukeshimana, two CNL activists, by a group of Imbonerakure led by Simon Nduwimana, leader of CNDD – FDD party in Gashikanwa commune. These young men of the ruling party had come from several localities of Gatobo zone.

Both victims were taken to Kiremba Hospital in very serious conditions.”People were furious with these young people from elsewhere who came to beat up their neighbors,” said a resident of this locality.
That Sunday, Simon Nduwimana, accompanied by several Imbonerakure, returned for the operation he called “gukoropa umutumba “(to clean the locality) as several witnesses said.

“Simon Nduwimana came on a motorbike and the others on foot.”It was around 8 p.m.”They started provoking CNL activists,” eyewitnesses say. Several CNL activists, including Donatien Nshimirimana, who is in charge of communication within the CNL party in Gashikanwa commune were beaten up, the same eyewitnesses say. Some were beaten with sticks in the back, on the face, arms, etc.The victims screamed for help. The other Inyankamugayo ran to the rescue of their comrades.”People were shouting enough is enough!”

The clashes began then. According to witnesses, two Imbonerakure named Révocat Nsabumuremyi, a teacher at Butaganda Fundamental School and the chief of the Imbonerakure in Gatobo zone and Anicet Nahayo, teacher at Musumba Fundamental School, were severely beaten.”The Imbonerakure fell back. They then called the police. Révocat Nsabumuremyi was transferred to Ngozi Hospital.

A policeman got injured

CNL activists went back home. At around 1 a.m., several police officers arrived at the scene in a Toyota Probox vehicle.”Accompanied by the Imbonerakure, they went to the house of Donatien Nshimirimana. They asked him to open the door but he did not do so,” said a resident of Gitanga. According to some sources, they had passed to many households of CNL activists but some managed to escape.

When they arrived at the home of a certain Bararinda, say the witnesses, they asked him to open the door by telling him that it is his friend Donatien who seeks him.”The latter came out and stopped at the doorstep. A police officer pulled his arm to pull him out. Bararinda wounded him on the head with a machete”.
This policeman is called Libère Barengayabo. One of the policemen shot in the air to disperse people who had started to clump together. In the meantime, Bararinda ran away.

Contacted, Simon Nduwimana rejects categorically all the allegations. “I was not present during the clashes. I came with the chief of the police station to intervene.”As for the beating and provocations against CNL party members, he speaks of lies. “I think it was a plan prepared by CNL activists .The proof is that when the leader of the party in this locality told them to move back, they did so immediately. When asked about the use of the word “gukoropa “, he replied: “I never said that word in my life. If I lie, may my tongue be cut off. CNL officials don’t believe what he says.

Panic in Masasu

In Masasu area in Kiremba commune, some CNL members have gone into hiding.

The altercations of Sunday and Monday on Gitanga hill took place at the foot of Mahorovya sub-hill, on a small center called ” kwa Kaboko.” It adjoins Masasu hill in Kiremba commune of Ngozi province. Between the two hills, there is a small swamp.It is in this marsh where the inhabitants of Masasu who had come to intervene stopped after hearing screams at Bararinda household…

What happened in Masasu?

That Wednesday, we went to Masasu. From Gitanga, we went to the center of Kiremba commune. We drove on a dirty road. It was quiet and empty with passers-by.We did not understand why.There was nobody to ask.
Since the past few days, the population, especially from the countryside seems reluctant to talk to journalists. They are afraid.

Yet, at one point, two young men came. After they had arrived near our car, we engaged them in a small conversation. They were going to Nkomero Center, somewhere in Masasu locality. It was our direction, we took them there. We wanted to know what had happened in Masasu…

In this locality, people are nice, friendly. If they trust you, they talk.
That’s what our passengers did.”In Masasu, there is fear. Members of CNL party are hunted down by the police. Some of them have already fled”.

According to them, what happened in Gitanga in the night of Monday leading to Tuesday brought misfortune to the members of this political party of the opposition although they had no responsibility in the events. “After loud shouts in Mahorovya around 1 a.m., dozens of people from Masasu quickly came running. They were men and women, of all ages and from different political parties,” say inhabitants.”But they were suddenly stopped by the crackling of weapons, coming from the area where the shouts were being heard.” Together, they waited for the situation to calm down.”They gathered in the valley, on the border between the two hills.”

Following the gunshots, many Gitanga residents fled to Masasu. Shortly afterwards, they returned home quickly, in the same night, when the situation was back a little to normal.”Rescuers” from Masasu also returned to their households, quiet, as if it were over. But the worst was yet to come.”The hunt for CNL members in Masasu started,” say the witnesses. Dozens of them decided to flee.

The hunt and flight

The concern to rescue Gitanga has been used as a pretext to track “unfairly” the CNL members, say sources. According to them, the day after the clashes, on Tuesday morning July 16th, Constantin Miburo, the CNDD-FDD chairman in Masasu might have drawn up a list of 17 most influential CNL activists. He accused them of being involved in the clashes. “The list was given to the Gashikanwa Police Station so they should be arrested”.

The information was quickly transmitted among people. Many were “warned” that they were wanted by justice. They decided to stay into the bush or move far away to friends.
Emmanuel Minani, Pascal Minani, Pascal Misago, Cyprien Sinzobatohana, Libère Rwasa, Félicien Miburo, Nsaguye, Concilie, Mukeshimana and Marie Rose Niragira, members of CNL party, are among others.

Anger

In Gashikanwa and Kiremba communes, the Inyankamugayo say they are hunted down.

In their investigation, Iwacu journalists met some of the men who have now gone into hiding. Two men walked miles, disguised, to an agreed place. “The slight movement of a motorbike or car could cause us harm,” said two young men aged 30, in torn boots and jackets, with sullen faces when they arrived.
Through their stories, one can feel anger. They denounce “stubbornness” against them. Constantin Miburo, the CNDD-FDD chairman in Masasu hill is singled out. “He wants us all to leave the locality. He is angry at us because there are very few militants of his party on our hill”. According to them, he is calling the police today because some of the Imbonerakure in Masasu locality do not obey him anymore.

Concerning the current “hunt”, E.N., one of them, does not doubt: “It targets the Inyankamugayo and not those who wanted to rescue others in Gitanga area.” If there had been careful investigations, militants of other political parties would have appeared on the so called list, he also says. He talks about two children of Miburo, a certain Nziza, Vanessa and Jean Marie, his brother. “We went together for the rescue”.
Those fugitives say they are in dismay. “Now we are under ‘cover’ (to mean in a hidden place). We do not know when we will go back to our families. How do our children live?” they wonder anxiously.

One of CNL leaders in Kiremba commune denounces the attitude of the communal administration. It does nothing for the good coexistence among members of different political parties. The same leader asks for more meetings to raise awareness of political tolerance among youths from different political parties.
Interviewed, Constantin Miburo, chairman of CNDD-FDD Party in Masasu hill, rejected any responsibility for the “hunt for CNL militants”. “They are wanted by justice for what they did in Gitanga. Not me.” For him, those who accuse him should only appear before justice and prove their innocence. “I have nothing against them, if they involve my children in their crimes, they should give evidence to the court”.

Cascade arrests

Tensions are running higher in Gitanga hill. The residents of the locality say the police are mainly looking for CNL members. Several Inyankamugayo have already run away. “We could not stay while even those who are not involved in Monday’s incidents are arrested,” they say.

On Tuesday morning, the police with Imbonerakure, went to Donatien Nshimirimana. They did not find him. They went away with his wife, Yvonne Ndayishimiye, his father and little brother. Three other people, Richard Nkurunziza, Léonidas Ndihokubwayo and Jean Miburo, were also arrested. They were released before they reached the dungeons.

According to residents of Gitanga hill, the Imbonerakure raided the Kayaga sub-hill. “They arrested Frédéric Rwasa. He is the CNL representative in Gatobo zone,” says one of the CNL representatives in Gashikanwa commune. “They also wanted to arrest Bosco Kwizera, secretary of the youth league, but he fled. Today, he lives in an unknown place”.

CNL members wonder why their mate has been arrested whereas he was not there on the day of the clashes. Police made further arrests among CNL militants. EgideTuyisenge, Frederic Nyabenda, Amos Nanzigiri from Gitanga hill, Hermes Nsabindemye and Joseph Bucumi from Masusu hill in Kiremba commune were arrested. “Besides, why only CNL militants are arrested while the Imbonerakure are the ones who began to beat our members?” wonder CNL militants.


A meeting “disturbed” by journalists

On Wednesday, July 17th, Jeanne Françoise Ndayiragije, administrator of Gashikanwa commune, organized a pacification meeting in Gitanga hill. Iwacu journalists were not allowed to follow that “public” meeting.

In Gitanga, the atmosphere is tense between the Imbonerakure and CNL party members

It is midday. We are at the office of Kiremba commune. We have heard that a public “pacification” meeting is scheduled in Mahorovya. Immediately, we decide to participate in it. We believed it was so important to be there as we could conduct an interview with the administrator of the commune.
At 1 p.m., people started clumping together at the coffee factory. The “beaters” urge them to enter in the hall. They wait patiently. Most of them were women.

Around 3 p.m., Jeanne Françoise Ndayiragije arrives with the municipal police officer, the chief of the police station and 4 policemen. Immediately, the Imbonerakure stand at the four corners of the place. They look like soldiers. The officials sit down. A person is chosen to pray. This one talks about chasing evil spirits which have invaded Gitanga hill. In a long speech, the chief of Gatobo zone calls on the population to speak openly about what happened on Monday. He warns troublemakers.

These journalists become pariahs

The communal administrator starts speaking. There is an applause for peace, Imana,.. She also recalls what happened to those who do not applaud during the meetings. As a reminder, two people were imprisoned a year ago because they had applauded neglectfully when the name of the President of the Republic was mentioned.

All of a sudden, Jeanne Françoise Ndayiragije whispered something in the ear of the chief of the police station. The latter comes towards us with hesitation. He quietly calls one of us. He brings him to the back of the meeting room. An interrogation begins.

Questioning

Policeman: How are you?
Reporter: I am fine.
Policeman: Are you from here or…?
Reporter: um, no. Why are you asking me so?
Policeman: Ooh, it’s nothing; I want us just to know each other (forced laugh). The journalist keeps silent for a moment before he replied. And then suddenly, he says Ok
Policeman: So where are you from?
Reporter: From somewhere in the area.
Policeman (worried and more virulent): What is the name of the chief of the area?
Reporter: I do not know him.
Policeman: What is the name of the chief of the cell?
Reporter: I told you that I’m not from here…
The policeman becomes confused and apologizes.
-Sorry, do not think that I am annoying you. Here, when we do not know someone, we try to know him. That is the reason why I have called you. People began to worry about this stranger in the place.
Reporter (small smile): Really?
Policeman: Yes, it’s like that. (He looks elsewhere as if he is looking for something).
Reporter: So, I go back to the meeting.
Policeman: But, you have not told me yet, are you the native of …?
Reporter: Muyinga.
Policeman: Your identity card.
The journalist hands him his ID
Policeman: (without having opened the ID): Which commune are you from?
Reporter: look at the ID.
Policeman: Make sure you are telling the truth. It’s better. What are you doing here? Do you know Dieudonné?
Reporter: I heard that the administrator of Gashikanwa commune would hold a meeting in the afternoon about the alleged clashes that ostensibly broke out on Monday. I felt interested.
Policeman: And Dieudonné, don’t you know him? You look like him.
Reporter: Dieudonné? I have a brother called so.
Policeman: No, Dieudonné who provoked the clashes.
Reporter: I don’t know him.
The policeman’s tone changes. He turns more than rigorous.
-When one tells the truth, it’s good but…
The journalist interrupts him and becomes courageous. Do not waste your time anymore. You want to know what I’m doing here, right? I am a journalist. That is the reason why I told you that I felt interested by this meeting. I think that’s okay now.
Policeman: Great … What media are you working for?
Reporter (turning to his colleague who had approached): We are working for Iwacu newspaper.
Policeman: Are you with this one?
Reporter: Yes.
The policeman calls him. In the meantime, another police officer, obviously an officer, approaches. It is the communal police commissioner.
Policeman: They are journalists…

Our documents got seized

The municipal police commissioner seizes our badges, our mission order and identity cards. Even the documents of our vehicle were seized. “I will tell you what next,” said the provincial police commissioner. He gives the documents to the communal administrator. All of a sudden, the meeting was interrupted.

Several people, including the administrator, Jeanne Françoise Ndayiragije, come out of the meeting to telephone. Small groups are formed. Discussions start. “They must be imprisoned,” some say. “No negotiation is necessary. They are our enemies, “add others. Groups are formed and separate after a phone call. The crowd witnesses the events, confused. They wonder what’s going on. Whispers are heard from here and there.

We are guarded by the police. We cannot move. The police confiscated one of our phones. The license plate number of our car is photographed by people in civil clothing. “We conveyed the information everywhere,” says a man in civilian clothing as well. We try to stay serene. We know that we did not break any laws by attending a public meeting. We watch the scene, but deep inside we are a little worried.


Our release came from elsewhere

Minutes pass, one hour and the administrator is still on the phone. After two hours, the population becomes impatient. Some begin to go home. All of a sudden, the pressure alleviates. The policemen who guard us go away discreetly. Phone calls stop. We got invited to enter our car while waiting for instructions. Two minutes later, they come to tell us that the administrator wants to meet us. “We know that the Iwacu Newspaper is recognized by the law. We know that it works well because we receive it every time, “says the administrator.

The only wrong thing for which we are blamed is that we did not meet the governor to tell him that we had come to conduct an investigation into Mahorovya case. “It’s just a pacification meeting. Nothing else,” she said. We answer that we had just come to attend the meeting and request an interview on this matter.

She refuses to give us the interview. “You cannot attend the meeting. You have to meet the governor first. But we need first to register your full identification and your phone numbers.”
Before resuming the meeting, she orders the police to delete all the pictures taken on the matter from our phones and camera. “After verification, we found that they are our friend journalists from Iwacu Newspaper and we know them,” she tells the crowd before resuming the meeting.

Afterwards, we were given back our documents and went to Ngozi province capital to meet Governor Albert Nduwimana. We were happy to leave, but with a sad feeling since our investigation was not completed.
Two hours after, we could not meet him because he was very busy. However, we talked to him on the phone. We agreed that we would call him the next day. Contacted again, he told us he was in a meeting.

 

Translated into English by Englishnews Team

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