The Amnesty International has written a letter to Burundian President Pierre Nkurunziza, expressing dismay over the deteriorating situation in the East African nation.
The country is still engulfed in widespread street protests against the president’s unconstitutional quest for the third term in office.
Since the protests intensified three days ago, about five people have reportedly been killed by police in the violent protests, and the national army had since taken over security of the capital Bujumbura.
In a letter dated April 25, the Amnesty International expressed concern that besides this, more than 100 people had been arrested by police for alleged participation in an insurrection Movement. The organization believes there is no factual basis or the charge of insurrection levied against them.
Over 10,000 Burundians have fled to Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) in the past few weeks alleging intimidation and harassment by the Imbonerakure, the youth wing of the National Council for the Defence of Democracy-Forces for the Defence of Democracy [CNDD-FDD].
“The Government of Burundi is obliged to promote, protect, and fulfill individuals’ human rights including the rights to freedom of expression, association and peaceful assembly, and to ensure fair trial rights and due process in line with regional and international human rights standards,” stated Salil Shetty, the Amnesty International Secretary-General
The SG asked the Burundian President to swiftly investigate and bring to justice all suspected perpetrators of violence and intimidation, including the Imbonerakure, and to end intimidation and harassment of critics, human rights defenders, the media and the political opposition.
According to Article 7 of the Arusha Accords, “The President of the Republic (Burundi) shall be elected for a term of five years, renewable only once. No one may serve more than two presidential terms.”
However, Nkurunziza supporters say he served only one term by adult suffrage as the first was by parliament’s appointment.
The opposition say Nkurunziza is being manipulative and oppressive, a move that could plunge the nation back into turmoil.
Regional leaders and the international community maintain Nkurunziza must uphold the spirit of the Arusha Accords to maintain stability in the country recovering from decades of war.