News24

Wave of arrests in Burundi

2011-12-09 20:21

Bujumbura - Burundi security forces have arrested at least 43 opposition members for alleged "acts of terrorism" in the past two weeks, one of the country's leading rights groups say.

The president of the Association for the Protection of Detained Persons and Human Rights (Aprodeh), Pierre Claver Mbonimpa,said: "A new wave of arrests has hit the opposition during at least two weeks.

“At least 43 people have been arrested for terrorism in the provinces of Cankuzo and Muyinga (in the east), Ngozi (north) and Karuzi (the centre)."

No member of Burundi's government, the police or the judiciary was immediately prepared to comment.

"All the arrested people are activists of the opposition parties, the FNL, the MSD and the UPD. ... They were often arrested without a mandate, at their place of work, in a bar or in the street, and were taken to Cankuzo without the knowledge of their families," Mbonimba said, describing the arrests as "kidnappings".

The three parties, the former rebels of the National Liberation Forces (FNL), the Movement for Solidarity and Development (MSD) and the Union for Peace and Development (UPD), have been accused by the authorities of being behind renewed violence in Burundi, which emerged in 2006 from a brutal civil war that claimed more than 300 000 lives.

Officials say that in the past two weeks, fighting has taken place between the security forces and a new rebel group which has been launching attacks on villages in the provinces of Ruyigi et Cankuzo from neighbouring Tanzania.

The upsurge in violence in Burundi has led many observers to fear a new outbreak of hostilities on the scale of the conflict that ravaged the country between 1993 and 2006.