MS Risk Blog

Possible Mass Graves Detected Near Burundian Capital

Posted on in Burundi title_rule


On Friday, Amnesty International reported that new satellite images, video footage and witness accounts show that dozens of people killed by Burundian security forces in December 2015 were later buried in mass graves.

The rights group has reported that there are five possible mass graves in the Buringa area, which is located on the outskirts of the Burundian capital, Bujumbura. A statement released by Amnesty disclosed that “the imagery, dating from late December and early January, shows disturbed earth consistent with witness accounts. Witnesses told Amnesty International that graves were dug on the afternoon of 11 December, in the immediate aftermath of the bloodiest day of Burundi’s escalating crisis.” According to Amnesty, witnesses described how police and local officials scoured Nyakabiga and other neighborhoods in Bujumbura in a bid to retrieve the bodies of those who were killed and took them to undisclosed locations. The latest report on such mass graves comes after UN human rights chief Zeid Raad al-Hussein earlier this month called for an urgent investigation into the alleged existence of mass graves following the violence that erupted in December. At the time, he cited “large-scale human rights violations,” stating that the “increasing number of enforced disappearances, coupled with allegations of secret detention facilities and mass graves is extremely alarming.” The Burundian government however has dismissed these allegations, stating that they are based on false information that was supplied by the regime’s opponents who fled into exile. Government spokesman Philippe Nzobonariba has stated that the US is free to go to Burundi and investigate the allegations, which he said were intended to portray Burundi as being a dangerous country.

On 11 December, in coordinated attacks, gunmen stormed three military installations in Burundi. The following day, 28 people were found shot dead in three neighborhoods in the capital city. An eyewitness reported at the time that some of the dead had their hands tied behind their backs, with another witness blaming government security forces and stating that they went after the victims in door-to-door searches.

President Pierre Nkurunziza’s decision to seek re-election last April touched off street protests that led to a failed coup in May and a rebellion which has left the country on the brink of civil war. Opponents and supporters of the president have been targeting each other in gun, rocket and grenade attacks, with the violence spreading beyond the capital city and into the provinces.

Tagged as: , , , , , , , , ,