Tags: Burundi | unrest | rights

Burundi Executed Dozens of Surrendered Rebels: Rights Group

Thursday, 12 February 2015 11:04 AM

Burundian troops executed at least 47 surrendered rebels last month, part of a "broader pattern" of violence coming ahead of key elections, Human Rights Watch said Thursday, claims rejected by government.

Members of the ruling party's youth wing known as the Imbonerakure also took part, beating to death those prisoners who were not shot, throwing others off a cliff, as well as helping to hide bodies in mass graves, HRW said.

Government spokesman Philippe Nzobonariba, however, dismissed the report.

"We are not surprised, we knew that HRW was up to something like this because we know the traditionally hostile attitude of the organization towards the Burundian government," Nzobonariba told AFP.

The rebels, who crossed into Burundi in late December from neighbouring eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, fought a five-day battle with government troops in the Cibitoke region, around 50 kilometres (30 miles) north of the capital Bujumbura.

The army said they had killed around 100 rebels in the battle -- about half the mysterious guerrilla force -- claiming they had planned to launch a major offensive to destabilise the country ahead of parliamentary and presidential polls due in May and June.

But investigations by HRW teams said witnesses described soldiers, police and Imbonerakure ordering men to lie face down in the dirt for execution, or lining them up along a cliff before opening fire.

"It appears that members of the military and police made no effort to arrest most of the men who surrendered, shooting them dead instead," HRW Africa chief Daniel Bekele said.

Burundi, a small landlocked nation in central Africa's Great Lakes region, emerged in 2006 from a brutal 13-year civil war.

Bekele called the killings "one of the largest incidents of this kind" in recent years, warning that the involvement of police, military, and local government officials, as well as youth from the ruling party, "would indicate coordination and state responsibility" for the executions.

"The killings in Cibitoke are part of a broader pattern of extrajudicial executions by Burundian security forces and members of the ruling party's youth league going back several years," HRW added.


© AFP 2019

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Thursday, 12 February 2015 11:04 AM
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