Kirundo: CNL party members beaten at cemetery

The Inyankamugayo (members of the opposition CNL party) from different communes of Kirundo province have been going through an ordeal. They face verbal threats, they are beaten, their crops are destroyed, etc. Iwacu reporters conducted an investigation in Kirundo, Bugabira and Bwambarangwe communes.

Some Inyankamugayo who were beaten up in Kibazi

Surprised by a crowd of young men, on his way from Rukaya center on Tuesday January 14, Éric Ndimurukundo, an Inyankamugayo from Kibazi locality in Bwambarangwe commune, could not have time to understand what was happening to him. “When I tried to ask why I was arrested, I found myself on the ground”. It was around 7:30 p.m. at the Kibazi football field, in the moonlight.
Dressed in black, all equipped with machetes, clubs … They were difficult to recognize.

Although it was in the night, Eric Ndimurukundo will however succeed in distinguishing Abdoul Bakire (president of CNDD-FDD party in Kibazi), Masumbuko (leader of Imbonerakure at the hill level), Richard Harerimana (deputy hill chief), a certain Jean Rwasa, the chief of Kimeza area and several other Imbonerakure from Kibazi and elsewhere.

After he was quickly tied up, the victim was taken to the courtyard of Morave church on this hill. It is there where he met Siméon Ntirandekura, Josué Inginiya and Mathias Misago, also CNL party activists from Kibazi, drawn one by one from their homes.

Those who tortured them were at least forty according to sources. They will take the four victims to the cemetery of Kibazi. The latter will then learn the reason for their arrest: participation in CNL meetings. “They were telling us that we are lied through these meetings,” says one of them.

These Inyankamugayo will be mistreated, beaten to death. Afterwards, they will be informed that they are in this cemetery to be buried alive. “They threatened us with machetes on the throats.”
In utter panic, some started to ask for forgiveness for anything they would have done. I said: ”Why do you want to kill us like that? After all, we didn’t do anything wrong.”
“We begged them to ask us all they want so they can leave us alive” , adds another .

A “fine for creating disorder”

To be released, they had to “pay” an amount of BIF 25,000. The four did not argue much. At first, those who captured them began to search their pockets. They found nothing. These Inyankamugayo had to pay this sum to save their lives. “They demanded that we ask our wives to bring us this money.”

The wives of Simeon Ntirandekura, Josué Inginiya and Mathias Misago had already taken off after the abduction of their husbands. The four members of the CNL party will collect this amount themselves, guarded by some Imbonerakure(youth members of the ruling party).

Against all odds, Josué Inginiya will receive a receipt for what the head of the zone would have called a “fine for creating disorder”. Given his commercial activity, he would have been required to pay more than the others, reveal some sources. “He received the receipt for a fine of 10 thousand BIF”. The other 3 have requested receipts in vain. “When we asked for these receipts, they replied with club blows, obliging us to go to sleep as soon as possible.”

Siméon Ntirandekura, Josué Inginiya, Mathias Misago and Eric Ndimurukundo decided to lodge a complaint with the police station in Bwambarangwe commune. But the complaints have not been followed up. “When we reported this to the hill leader, he clearly said that he cannot do anything about that. He says that he himself fears for his life.”

Why were they nabbed? The victims think it’s because of their defection from the ruling party. “Before, we were all from the CNDD-FDD party. We recently joined CNL party. When we got beaten, we thought it was precisely because of this change of party. There is visibly no other reason,” say these four Kibazi residents.

The chief of Kibazi hill says he does not have sufficient information on this issue. “Those who claim to be victims have not informed me.”

The head of Kimeza zone, who is mentioned among those who tortured the four CNL party members, does not deny the facts. He however says things didn’t happen as reported. This local administrative official indicates that the injured people filed a complaint before the judicial police officer. “The offender, who was among these complainants, paid a fine. The case is now closed,” he said.

Panic in Mukenke

After being beaten, a receipt was given to Josué as proof of a fine he paid “for causing disorder”

There has been utter fear among CNL party activists in Mukenke area since the holding of a meeting by CNDD-FDD party in Bwambarangwe commune on Saturday 18 January. According to some sources, this meeting would have been attended by different representatives of the ruling party, from the sub-hill to the commune level.

Stopping the scale of CNL party propagation in this commune where the provincial secretary of the ruling party was born was on the agenda. Participants would have agreed to use all means at their disposal to prevent what would have been called propaganda. “They even agreed on the use of physical violence against those who take the lead in teaching the ideology of CNL party,” say sources, adding that they got the information from some of the participants. The most targeted people are those who would go back home after 6 p.m.

According to these sources, the clauses of the meeting did not take long to be applied. In the evening of the same day, Dieudonné Miburo, one of the Inyankamugayo from Budahunga locality, was beaten up when he argued, with friends in a bar, that the CNL would win in Bwambarangwe commune. “He said that CNL will win the elections in our commune. And he asked that there remain peaceful political coexistence after this victory.”

After he was called by a certain Edouard Miburo (representative of CNDD-FDD at Budahunga sub-hill ), the head of Mukenke zone, Grégoire Ngaboyumwami, is said to have beaten up this Inyankamugayo before throwing him in prison. He is still detained in Bwambarangwe commune dungeon.

Contacted, Grégoire Ngaboyumwami claims to have corrected Dieudonné Miburo for contempt. “I didn’t beat him up. I slapped him. He showed us contempt and I slapped him before handing him over to justice for him to be corrected.”

Worrying tracts found in Buhoro

On the other side of Buhoro area in the same commune, the CNL party members say they are also worried about their safety. Shortly after the meeting by the ruling party in the morning of Sunday, January 19, tracts warning a dozen of Inyankamugayo were found in different parts of Buhoro locality.

As one of the tracts reads, 11 activists of CNL party in Buhoro would be executed shortly. “They are accused of taking away members from the ruling CNDD-FDD”, said a woman from this locality. Among those targeted, our sources speak particularly of Ironge, Gakiza, Ngabonziza, Mukongo, etc.

Apart from the eleven “candidates for death “, four other Inyankamugayo would be accused of being recalcitrant. The tract threatens to put them out of harm’s way. “They say they are determined to make them disabled.” Among these four, Gad and Venant have been cited by our sources.

Two days later, on Monday January 20, the leader of CNL party at the hill level was in turn placed in a state of warning. “On the tract found on Monday outside the home of Mukeshimana, the representative of women from CNL party in Buhoro locality, it was written that she is accused of witchcraft. But we know it is a false pretext.”

Besides tracts, unknown people throw stones, as soon as night falls, on the roofs of the houses of the Inyankamugayo. One of the CNL officials in Buhoro area says that some of the roofs were found to have holes as they could not resist big stones.

In Buhoro, these new forms of threats are added to the physical attacks against the Inyankamugayo. Evidence recalls the cases of Cleophas Misago and a certain Juvenal, beaten up two weeks ago. These CNL activists say they are concerned over their safety. They accuse the Imbonerakure(youth members of the ruling party CNDD-FDD) of being behind these threats. They request the competent bodies to protect them.

Désiré Macumi, the Buhoro hill chief, says to be unaware of information about tracts. “No one has ever shown us these tracts,” he said before adding that he does not give reports to the press.

For his part, the president of the Imbonerakure in Buhoro zone indicates that the Imbonerakure have already started to conduct night patrols to identify those who throw stones at the houses of the Inyankamugayo during the night. “Some say they are the Imbonerakure, other say that the victims would be the real perpetrators of these acts. We want to know the truth, “explains Salvator Rwasa, adding that the CNDD-FDD meeting on Saturday January 18 was not aimed at beating up militants from the party led by Agathon Rwasa, the historic leader of FNL party. “The meeting was aimed at the good preparation of the next elections”.

Bugabira: CNL party members in Kiri go through an ordeal

Gilbert Barutwanayo’s field is said to have been devastated by Imbonerakure

In kiri area of Bugabira commune, the Inyankamugayo live in fear. “We have become outcasts,” they say adding that they neither have the right to purchase food in the shops nor buy drink in the bars located in this area. “We are not allowed to order a kebab. Once you are given it, the leader of the ruling CNDD-FDD party on the hill will take it from you and throw it on the ground.”

In addition, they indicate that CNL activists cannot go and fetch water. “The Imbonerakure forbade us. How can we live without water? Even prisoners get it in prison.”

The Inyankamugayo are also frustrated because they cannot graze their cattle on the hill. “The property where the cows graze belongs to the state. The Imbonerakure tell us that this is a domain of the CNDD-FDD party and not of the CNL party”. On Kiri hill, they say, the Inyankamugayo cannot hire workers to plow their fields. “The Imbonerakure intimidate them and they refuse to work for us.”

According to them, it is very difficult to live in these conditions. “It seems that we are not Burundian citizens”. They accuse Déo Nimubona, the leader of the ruling party, of being behind this mistreatment of CNL activists. “He is an accomplice because everything is happening in his presence but he says nothing.”

According to CNL activists, several of them preferred to flee this locality. “They could not bear this life”. Contacted, the chief of Kiri area and the leader of the CNDD-FDD party in Kiri deny all the allegations.

Destruction of property; new weapon of political intolerance

For some time now, there have been reports of the destruction of the property of CNL activists in several corners of the country: ravaged cornfields, devastated banana plants, injured cows or pigs, etc. Kirundo commune is no exception.

During the night of January 19-20, 2020, the fields of Gilbert Barutwanayo, provincial secretary of the youth wing within CNL party, in Gihosha locality in rural Kirundo area, were ransacked by men not yet identified. “I have a half hectare property. There were peanuts, sunflowers, corn and cassava. There was one month left to reach the harvest period. Everything was destroyed,” says Gilbert Barutwanayo.

After this act, these criminals devastated the cornfield of Gilbert’s father. “They took the already ripe corncobs and cut down the rest. It is a great loss for our family. ” Gilbert Barutwanayo indicates that he does not know those responsible for this ignoble act because he lives in the capital of Kirundo province.

According to the residents of Gihosha, there is heightened political intolerance in this locality. “He was targeted because he is a member of CNL party in addition to being the provincial secretary for the youth wing of this party.”

The inhabitants of Gihosha locality point an accusing finger at the Imbonerakure. “They were more than 30 Imbonerakure. They started destroying these fields around 9 p.m. They were led by their chief known as Charles,” says a resident of this locality. “We think the hill chief is in cahoots. He told a crowd that perhaps it was people from Tutsi ethnic group who did this to sow discord. There are no Tutsi people in our locality,” says another resident of Gihosha area.

Contacted, Serge Ntirandekura, Gihosha hill chief, indicates that those responsible for this act are not known yet. About the charges brought against the Imbonerakure, he replied: “The Imbonerakure cannot do that”. He also denies having said words about the Tutsi ethnic group people. “I did not say these words. This is said by people who want to harm me.”
In this same area of rural Kirundo, another cornfield of a CNL activist was destroyed during the night of January 14 to 15, 2020.

CNL party condemns the ordeal suffered by its activists

Térence Manirambona: “The police should investigate and establish responsibilities so as not to back impunity.”

“We vehemently condemn this political intolerance which targets CNL party activists. May the perpetrators of these barbaric acts be exposed and brought before justice,” says Térence Manirambona, spokesperson for CNL party.

He says the party firmly condemns administrative officials and other political leaders who minimize the ordeal suffered by the Inyankamugayo in their speeches. “This behavior of evading responsibility worsens the situation.”

According to him, the administration seems absent and complicit because it turns a blind eye to a situation of intolerance which is repeated many times in Kirundo. “The police should take this matter seriously, investigate and establish responsibilities so as not to back impunity.”

The CNL party requests respect for the Constitution and other texts which recognize the multiparty system in Burundi. CNL party requests the administrative, political, and justice officials not to create or promote an environment that is not conducive to the peaceful coexistence of the population and the holding of peaceful elections.

Story written by Edouard Nkurunziza&Fabrice Manirakiza and

translated into English by Pierre Emmanuel Ngendakumana