Burundi media petition UN, Rwandan journalist in custody

Etienne Besabesa, Rawndan Journalist being held by Burundian Authorities

Etienne Besabesa, Rawndan Journalist being held by Burundian Authorities

Burundian independent media have petitioned the United Nations to intervene in the current crackdown by government forces on local media as violence in Burundi continues to escalate.

A group of independent media personalities In Burundi and the Association of Burundi Radio Broadcasters (ABR), wrote to the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon on June 11, requesting his immediate intervention.

In their letter ,the journalists said that the ongoing insecurity and crackdown on media has affected the Burundian media in all aspects, especially destruction of media infrastructure by government agents and physical security threats to journalists.

The letter was also copied to the African Union Chairperson, and several Heads of State in the East and Southern African region.

In the wake of the foiled coup of May 13, private radio and Television station were attacked, and destroyed, and journalists were harrassed and investigated for their possible role in the attempted coup as they provided airtime to the renegade generals as they announced their doomed coup to the nation.

Four radio stations; RPA, Bonesha, Isanganiro, and Renaissance are still banned and journalists are barred from accessing the premises.

The government has promised it will reopen them but it is yet to follow through on that promise.

The crisis in Burundi was top on the agenda at the just concluded African Union Summit in South Africa. And leaders also called for dialogue in the Central African nation.

In a related development, a Rwandan journalist, Etienne Besabesa, working for Radio Izuba, Radio Flash and Igihe.com, is currently being held in Police custody in Burundi for allegedly entering the country illegally through an unofficial border crossing.

Besabesa had been assigned to the Rwandan border area to monitor and file reports on the refugee influx but he illegally entered the Burundi.

Despite diplomatic efforts from Rwanda’s Media commission and embassies on both sides, prosecutors in Burundi say that Besabesa’s case has been prepared and he will officially appear and be charged in court soon.