Ngozi / Gashikanwa : Students become victims of political intolerance

At least 6 members of the National Congress for Liberty-CNL have been detained since May 4, in the cell of Gashikanwa commune in Ngozi province. Their families denounce harassment by the youth wing of the ruling party CNDD-FDD. The latter rejects categorically these accusations.

6 CNL members detained in the prison of Gashikanwa commune.

In the fine rain, on Tuesday, May 8, a small group of members of the National Council for Liberty (CNL) assemble near the communal office of Gashikanwa. Bicycle taxi drivers stare at them with amusement. With hats on the head for some and T-shirts with the party symbol for others, they seem calm and proud of themselves. They are holding a discussion “Eh! You are no longer afraid of showing yourself,” said an old man after noticing their attire. In response, they smile at him.

Suddenly, a transport vehicle of Probox type from Ngozi stops before the crowd of supporters of CNL leader. It carries four men including one with a closed envelope. They come out. They were eagerly awaited. After greeting the group, they went to the office of the administrator. In fact, as ambassadors come to present their credentials to the Head of state, they come to present their party apparatus to the communal authorities.

Finding the office of the administrator closed, the man with the envelope goes to the communal advisor in charge of development. The interview does not last long. Just giving him the parcel and signing on some documents. The organs of CNL have just been recognized in Gashikanwa commune.
At the exit, their faces are illuminated: “This is a great day for the Inyankamugayo (members of CNL party) of Gashikanwa,” says Christian Citeretse, representative of this party in this commune. A family photo was taken to immortalize that moment.

He ensures that almost all other sections of Ngozi province are doing the same. In addition, Mr. Citeretse hopes that this move will end the waves of arrest of his comrades. At the same time, he points to a building on his left, the communal prison. Six members of CNL are imprisoned there. They are Eric Ndayizeye, Frédéric Hicuburundi, Joel Ndayisenga, Jonas Hagerimana, Gratien Tuyisenge and Jean Claude Miburo.

What happened?

Everything occurred on Saturday, May 4th. According to Citeretse, the family of Eric Ndayizeye, a pupil at Kinyovu Communal High School in the second post- basic school year, living in Ndaro sub-hill in Ngoma area of Gashikanwa commune, receives the dowry of his sister.

Family photo of apparatus members of CNL party in Gashikanwa commune.

The next day, the neighbors come running to drink the remaining banana beer. Among them, there is Jean Claude Miburo also known as Ndabagoye. In a while, Frédéric Hicuburundi, Eric’s classmate, joins them. The reasons for his presence differ from that of Jean Claude. He comes to borrow a battery for his phone which is off, a frequent practice in rural areas due to the lack of electricity.

The rain begins to fall. Returning from a walk, Gratien Tuyisenge and Jonas Hagerimana take shelter in Eric’s house. They will leave as soon as the rain is over. At around 6 p.m, Damien Ndirakubagabo, chief of the area, with the Imbonerakure (youth affiliated to the ruling party CNDD-FDD) come and arrest those who are there.

Accused of holding a clandestine meeting, Eric Ndayizeye, Frédéric Hicuburundi, Joel Ndayisenga (another classmate of Eric) and Jean Claude Miburo alias Ndabagoye will be transported to the center of Ngoma zone. From there, the administrator’s vehicle will transfer them to the dungeon of Gashikanwa commune.

The four will spend the night of Sunday behind bars. The next day, very early in the morning, Gratien Tuyisenge and Jonas Hagerimana suffer the same fate. In total, four students, a farmer and an unemployed person are incarcerated. “The Imbonerakure came to take my brother without an arrest warrant,” says Jérémie Nijimbere, Jonas’s elder brother. He indicates that there were six of them. He could only recognize two of them: Clovis Niyokindi and a certain Athanase.
He says people on their hill live in harmony adding that campaigning for a party is not a sin. “When my father asked the Investigation police officer about the content of his son’s file, he replied to him that it is not he who imprisoned him.”

The administrator of Gashikanwa commune admits that the six individuals are in prison. She says they were holding an illegal meeting. Nevertheless, she does not admit that they were arrested because they are supporters of Agathon Rwasa. “In my commune, anyone who breaks the law must be arrested. For now, we keep them for investigation and we are trying to give them some pieces of advice.”
For his part, J. Claude Muhizi, the leader of Imbonerakure in Gashikanwa commune says he was not there when those people got arrested. He refused to make any comment before having conducted his own investigations.

However, he rejects the allegations accusing Imbonerakure of having replaced the police. “Our youth do not interfere in the affairs of the police”.

Cibitoke / Rugombo : Youths fall victim of political intolerance

In just one week, five members of CNL party have been beaten by the youth affiliated to the ruling party-CNDD-FDD during night patrols. The leader of this party warns these young people and announces that actions will be taken against them.

The most recent case is that of Augustin Bizumuremyi, a 19-year-old activist of the National Congress for Liberty (CNL) residing in Mparambo hill II in Rugombo commune of Cibitoke province. After he was seriously beaten by the youths of the ruling party in the night of May 4-5, he is currently in critical condition.

The population living in the center of Rugombo commune accuses these young people of threatening their peace during night under the pretext that they are preserving peace and security. Five people have been beaten and abused by these young people.
This situation is particularly observed in the hills of Mparambo II, Munyika II and Cibitoke on the 7th road. The population asks them to stop this behavior in order to avoid reprisals.

Meetings already planned to stabilize the situation

The provincial secretary of CNDD-FDD party in Cibitoke, Albert Nsekambabaye, is shocked by the behavior of these young people. However, he says he has never received complaints from the victims. Mr Nsekambabaye says he will hold meetings with the ruling party’s youth whose aim will be respecting supporters of other political parties.

He asks the victims to go to the court and warns those who have the ambition to destabilize peace and security that measures and sanctions against them will be taken.

When political intolerance turns into the norm

Analysis by Guibert Mbonimpa

Partial view of the office of the public prosecutor in Cibitoke

In north, south, west, center … there is a similar modus operandi: night arrests at home or in public places during the day. They are accused of participating in secret and illegal meetings.
The same process is underway with the resurgence of intolerance that tends to normalize since the night of St Valentine’s Day until at least last Monday. The next general election in 2020 is fast approaching.

Ignoring the reality is not a strategic vision as it rebels in the medium or long term. That day, a threshold will be crossed and the real dialogue – hitherto avoided by some protagonists of the political crisis – will be essential to break the political impasse that has just entered its fifth year, at least for those who want to be safe from any costly confrontations.
A governing elite who claims to uphold democratic principles should seek “a strong synergy” based on trust, controversial debate and respect, according to Bachir Djaider, a journalist and writer.

Translated into English by Pierre Emmanuel Ngendakumana