Burundi: UN condemns rights activist attack, politically motivated violence

Pierre Claver Mbonimpa

Pierre Claver Mbonimpa

The Secretary General of the United Nations, and the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) are condemning Monday’s attempted assassination of Pierre Claver Mbonimpa a leading human rights activist in Burundi.

In a statement Monday evening, Ban Ki-moon wished Mr. Mponimpa who undergoing intensive care at a Bujumbura hospital a fully and speedy recovery. The UN Secretary General also calls upon the country’s authorities to thoroughly and expeditiously investigate and bring the perpetrators to justice.

“This incident, which comes only a day after the killing of General Adolphe Nshimirimana, is part of a growing pattern of politically-motivated violence in Burundi that must be broken before it escalates beyond control.” Ban Ki-moon said

Pierre Claver Mbonimpa, the Chairman of the Association for Promotion of Human and Detainees’ Rights in Burundi (APRODH) was driving home from work Monday evening when he was attacked and shot 4 times by two people riding on a motorcycle.

The attack happened in Kukanga area in Kinama, North of the capital Bujumbura.

The human rights activist has been influential in the protests against President Pierre Nkurunziza’s third term. Mbonimpa is one of the key figures of the Burundi civil society who mobilized Burundians for the recent massive protests against President Nkurunziza’s candidacy.

The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) in Geneva, Switzerland, has also echoed the Secretary General’s condemnation and sadness in response to Mbonimpa’s attempted assassination and called for a swift investigation by the police.

In a related development OHCHR also expresses “deep concern at the brutal arrest and ill treatment, on 2 August, of the RFI and AFP local correspondent, Esdras Ndikumana, by agents belonging to the Service national de renseignement (SNR), the national intelligence agency.”

Ndikumana was arrested by Burundi Intelligence agents over the weekend as he took pictures of the shooting death of General Adolphe Nshimirimana, according to multiple sources the journalist sustained a broken finger and he has been left traumatized by the heavy beatings and “torture”.

The security agents accused Ndikumana of being an “enemy.”

“They took him to their HQ in Bujumbura and reportedly subjected him to torture, claiming that he was a ‘journalist enemy’. Mr. Ndikumana is currently under medical care, suffering from a broken finger and psychological trauma,” OHCHR spokesperson Cécile Pouilly told the media.

The African Union, the European Union, and the United States have all condemned the ongoing violence in Burundi and warned against revenge killings that might push Burundi over the edge.

The country has experienced instability since April when the governing party CNDD-FDD nominated President Nkurunziza for the controversial third term.

He won the July 21 presidential poll but the situation in the country, especially the capital Bujumbura is still volatile.