Kirundo / Political intolerance

Livestock and crops of CNL party members under threat

Devastated crops, slaughtered cattle in addition to physical assault and imprisonment, persecution against the Inyankamugayo (CNL party members) in Kirundo province seem widespread. Iwacu reporters carried out an investigation in the communes of Kirundo, Busoni and Gitobe.

Jérôme Misago from Kirundo commune was stabbed on the shoulder because he left CNDD-FDD party for CNL party

The last two victims are struggling to recover from the attacks. Five days after he was seriously beaten, Emmanuel Coyitungiye, an Inyankamugayo (CNL party activist) from Kiravumba hill in Busoni commune of Kirundo province, still cannot move. “He stays at his home,” says a close friend of his, denouncing an exaggerated “political intolerance.”

When he went to the center of Bombanzira area for a meeting on Saturday 14 December, Emmanuel Coyitungiye was surprised by an invitation. Anatole Rugemintwaza, the chief of Mukerwa area, called him for a “talk”. As some sources say, it was worrying for this Inyankamugayo who was never on good terms with this administrative official.

Immediately upon arrival, Emmanuel quickly learned the object of the invitation: to sit on the floor. “Why?” asks Emmanuel. He got no answer. Rugemintwaza gives him an order. Emmanuel resists: “What have I done?” he asks

Faced with the resistance, the zone chief accused him of “treating all the militants of CNDD-FDD ruling party as dogs”.

Emmanuel Coyitungiye understood that the accusation was serious. “He saw that the situation would become more complicated,” said a relative. He immediately tried to run away.

A young member of the ruling party who had hitherto been with the zone chief pursued him and caught him. The ordeal of Emmanuel began. “He was beaten mercilessly, as if it were a snake being beaten,” says a young man who admits that he witnessed the scene. “He was told that it’s strictly prohibited to CNL party members to pass by this place.” Reportedly, Emmanuel Coyitungiye was abandoned, his blood dripping, in a small bush near the road, not far from the center of Bombanzira. “It was around 2:30 pm,” recalls the eyewitness. “We thought he was dead,” says one of them.

He was found on Monday 16 December in Vumbi commune (Kirundo province) on Canika hill. “He had gone to hide fearing that those who almost killed him would finish him,” said his brother, adding that Emmanuel always feared for his life.

Some sources say that there was a list of Inyankamugayo who would be attacked during their movements. It would have been drawn up by Anatole Rugemintwaza, the zone chief and Emmanuel Coyitungiye would be part of it …

Asked about these allegations, Anatole Rugemintwaza said he was not aware of any physical violence against Emmanuel Coyitungiye: “I remember him on Saturday. He was attending a dance. Maybe someone would have trampled on him, because there were so many people there. Or, maybe he would have met a criminal on his way back home. In any case, I will not be able to provide clarifications on this case,” he said.

However, this administrative official believes that the victim “would have exaggerated things.”

“If he was physically attacked, he would have not confided in the media. He would rather have gone to the hospital.” For him, Emmanuel Coyitungiye would therefore have hidden interests in this case.

Another CNL party member beaten up in Gitobe

After Busoni, it was the turn of the neighboring Gitobe commune. According to reliable sources from Tonga hill, Célestin Simbarakiye, one of the representatives of CNL party in Gitobe could not make it to church last Sunday.

Emmanuel Coyitungiye of Busoni was allegedly beaten up before fleeing to Vumbi

Surprised around 7:30 am on Sunday December 15 by a crowd of Imbonerakure led by their communal representative, a certain Zappy Georges Ntahombaye, Célestin Simbarakiye was first stripped of his phone before being beaten. Without knowing the cause, he was immediately taken to the dungeon of the commune.

“These Imbonerakure accused him of throwing stones at a group of Imbonerakure who were doing sport at dawn on Saturday, the day before,” reveal some sources in Tonga. “False,” say local activists of CNL party who advance political motives. “He was so active within the party that his competence scared the other parties, especially the ruling CNDD-FDD party”.

Increased persecution against former members of CNDD-FDD party

In Kirundo commune and province, CNL activists who are former members of the ruling party are said to be the most targeted by attacks. “Leaving the ruling party is considered a serious crime,” confirm various people.

Nzoyisaba, an ex-Imbonerakure from Kanyinya area, who joined CNL party last August, has been living in panic since Friday, December 6. “He paid the price for what the Imbonerakure youth call treason,” said a young man from this locality.

That day, he says, Nzoyisaba was returning , around 9 pm, from the bar when he got arrested by Ildephonse Niboye nicknamed “Nusu”, the chief of this hill, accompanied by some Imbonerakure. He cites among others Tombola, the president of Imbonerakure in Kanyinya and a certain Alexis.
According to our source, Nzoyisaba was taken to Nusu’s home to “be corrected.” There, he would have been severely beaten before being taken to a large eucalyptus plantation not far from this home. In there, he was also beaten up before being left there unconscious.

Subsequently, continues our source, he would have been threatened with death if he ever denounced those who tortured him. He was afraid and remained silent for a long period of time. “He couldn’t even seek medical care.” The CNL representative at Kanyinya hill said he learned about it a week later. “It didn’t surprise me much. I knew that Imbonerakure held grudge against him since he joined CNL party.”

Political intolerance did not spare cows and crops

On Kanyinya hill, apart from the case of Nzoyisaba, two former Bakenyererarugamba women (= name of women members of CNDD-FDD party) from Nyange sub-hill, would be living traumatized since their conversion from the ruling party to CNL party. Virginie and Cogori are said to have been threatened many times by a certain Havyarimana, the chief of this sub- hill. “They no longer leave their homes,” says a resident of Nyange.

That’s not all. In this same commune of Kirundo, on Mwenya hill, Jérôme Misago was injured with machetes on Sunday, December 15, by unknown people.
“He had been stabbed on the shoulder with a sword,” says a young man who says he saw him after the act. “His attackers accused him of having left CNDD-FDD without having notified the competent bodies.”

The accused two reject categorically the allegations. Ildephonse Niboye admits having “inflicted a small punishment” on Nzoyisaba but denies any political motive. He tries to explain the “small punishment”: “He and a certain Nahayo had abused Jean Bosco Ndabishemeze, an agent of the joint security committee. When they took him to me, I decided to bit him as correction. “He was only hit four times, not even one more slap … Because otherwise, we would have driven him to the prison, which is not good for neighbors.”

For his part, the head of Nyange sub-hill speaks of a personal disagreement with Virginie, one of the complainants. According to him, Virginie would have accused him of adultery to his wife and this is the source of their disagreement. “There is nothing political behind it. It is true that they left CNDD-FDD for CNL, but I really have nothing against them on this issue, “explains Havyarimana.

The property of the Inyankamugayo not spared

Bernard Habimana, a resident of Sigu hill in Busoni commune, is on the verge of going into exile following multifaceted intimidations.
It all started on Tuesday December 3. “I had a bad morning that day,” he says. On Tuesday, very early in the morning, Habimana was awakened by bad news.

The guardian of his only cow comes to tell him that the latter has nicks at the level of legs and that it cannot get up. “We then found that it was injured with a machete.” The cow was quickly slaughtered and sold on credit and at lower price.

According to testimonies in Busoni, while Bernard Habimana was vainly still trying to know the motives behind this act and the perpetrators, his guardian received a disturbing message. “May your boss take what happened as a final warning,” said Onesphore Miburo nicknamed “Muzehe,” the vice president of CNDD-FDD party in Busoni commune.

With this message, Bernard Habimana suspected that the perpetrators of the crime would be some activists of CNDD-FDD party. “I didn’t really know any other enemy that could do such a thing,” he says.

Suspicions increased in the next few days. On Sunday, December 10, during the night, strangers knocked on the door of Jean Pierre Ntahondi, his son. He refused to open. The next day, the scene was frightening. The banana plantation of Jean Pierre Ntahondi was destroyed while several pigs owned by other CNL party activists were wounded with machetes on Sigu hill. “It was atrocious. We stayed dumbfounded, without understanding what had happened,” says a woman from Sigu. Benjamin Murondererwa, Berchmans Bicamumpaka, Félicien Nkezayabo, Daniel Minani and Théoneste Ndaruseheye were among the victims.

A resident of Nyagisozi center (Busoni commune) says he does not understand a “certain kind of madness” that caught hold of some people. He wonders the aims of “those who commit these types of crimes?

In this regard, the explanations that Iwacu was able to get can only be reduced to the case of Jean Pierre Ntahondi : “He is a successful trader at Sigu center. Some of the Imbonerakure would not be accepting that he have such a flourishing business when in fact he is not one of them.”

Reacting to these accusations, Onesphore Miburo spoke of a fabrication made from nothing, persisting in knowing the sources of this information. “Be vigilant in these days, there are many rumors,” he said.

Story originally written by Edouard Nkurunziza & Fabrice Manirakiza and
translated into English by Pierre Emmanuel Ngendakumana