AI: Burundi used acid, iron bars to torture opposition

2015-08-24 12:07
Pierre Nkurunziza. (File: AFP)

Pierre Nkurunziza. (File: AFP)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Nairobi - Burundi security forces used iron bars and acid to force confessions and crush opposition during President Pierre Nkurunziza's successful bid for a third term in office, Amnesty International said on Monday.

Testimonies recorded by Amnesty in the report accuse both the police and National Intelligence Service (SNR) of carrying out "torture and other ill-treatment" since April 2015 against people suspected of participating in protests against Nkurunziza's controversial re-election bid.

Police beat people with electric cables and batons, while the SNR used iron bars, as well as "forcing detainees' heads under dirty water", said the report read, titled "Just tell me what to confess to."

One man arrested in the central African nation in June showed Amnesty the marks from his treatment, which started with being beaten with iron bars, before he was made to strip naked.

"They took a five-litre container full of sand and tied it to my testicles. They left it on me for more than an hour, I fainted," one man told Amnesty, in the report released in the Kenyan capital Nairobi.

Human rights violations

"After I came around, they made me sit in a shallow pool of battery acid... it burned terribly."

Burundian journalist Esdras Ndikumana, 54, correspondent of Agence France-Presse (AFP) and Radio France International (RFI), was himself subjected to severe beatings by the SNR for around two hours. His testimony is also included in the report.

"Detainees were subjected to a pattern of human rights violations: unlawful arrest and detention, torture and other ill-treatment, and a lack of access to lawyers, family members and doctors," the report read.

None of those interviewed were given access to lawyers or their families during their detention, the report added, which said those interview warned the use of torture "was on the rise" in the country.

Amnesty said it had tried to contact the police and SNR, but had received no response to the report.

Nkurunziza's third term has been condemned as unconstitutional by the opposition and provoked months of protests. There has been a string of killings since his re-election, including of his top security chief, assassinated in an ambush last month.

'They will be scattered like flour thrown into air'

Nkurunziza, an ex-rebel turned born-again Christian who believes he is in power by divine choice, was sworn into on office last week.

After taking the oath of office, he warned rebels they would be crushed by God.

"They will be scattered like flour thrown into the air - as the God of heaven is a witness, the Burundians will be at peace," he said.

Others said they had been threatened to make confessions.

"They told me if you don't confess, we'll kill you," one man told Amnesty. "But I said 'How can I confess when I know nothing - you'll have to just tell me what to confess to'."

Read more on:    pierre nkurunziza  |  burundi  |  east africa  |  burundi elections 2015

Join the conversation! encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.
NEXT ON NEWS24X publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24


Book flights

Compare, Book, Fly

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.