Month: November 2015

International Crisis Group highlights link between impunity for past crimes and the ongoing violence in Burundi

From “Burundi: How to Deconstruct Peace“, November 2015:

 In truth, the success of Burundi’s peaceful transition was overstated to begin with. The implementation of the Arusha agreement was both unfinished and undesired by the government. The ruling party… even blocked the implementation of several conditions, including, most prominently, those related to the creation of a special tribunal to judge the crimes of the civil war. Consequently, nobody has answered for these and Burundi has failed to move past them…

The return of authoritarian and corrupt governance to Burundi has been made possible because the guarantors of the Arusha agreement did not follow through on their commitments. They ignored early warnings about the return of authoritarian governance and that peace was beginning to unravel. Peacebuilding requires a long-term political engagement to have any degree of success. This is something that those seeking an end to the current Burundian crisis must bear in mind if they are to achieve more than a brief interruption of the country’s fighting and instability.

Impunity Watch: “by failing to prosecute those responsible for abuses… successive Burundian regimes… have paved the way for cyclic violence”

From “Crisis in Burundi: How to address impunity and prevent future violations?”, by Impunity Watch, September 2015

It is a fallacy to think that redressing past massive violations of human rights and protecting rights in the present are mutually exclusive. Burundi’s ongoing political crisis is a grave demonstration of this fact. By neglecting to uncover the truth about the past, by failing to prosecute those responsible for abuses, by instituting flawed reparations procedures, and by forsaking the key measures needed for guaranteeing non-recurrence, successive Burundian regimes have failed to address the culture of impunity and have paved the way for cyclic violence. Peace, stability and democracy cannot be built on the foundations of impunity. Criminal justice procedures in particular would have a normaffirming effect in Burundi and would demonstrate that no-one is above the law.

Titanic Express vigil, 3pm, December 28th 2015, Trafalgar Square, London

December 28th - large

On 28th December 2000, 21 people were shot dead during an attack on a bus – bearing the ill-fated name “Titanic Express” – close to the Burundian capital Bujumbura. Those killed were Tutsis and foreigners, specifically targeted because of their ethnicity. One Hutu passenger who was freed unharmed was given a chilling message for the authorities: “We’re going to kill them all and there’s nothing you can do”.

Among the dead were Burundian-Canadian Arthur Kabunda, British aid worker Charlotte Wilson, her Burundian fiance Richard Ndereyimana, and a number of Rwandan citizens. Several of the victims were children.

Despite repeated promises, the Burundian government has taken no action to prosecute those responsible for the Titanic Express attack. In 2005, amid warnings that failure to do justice over past crimes would lead to a resurgence in violence in future, all parties to the Arusha peace accord – which ended Burundi’s decade-long civil war – agreed to establish a “Special Chamber” to prosecute those responsible for the worst atrocities.

Yet this promise has never been delivered. Today, the situation in Burundi is worsening again, with each week bringing news of more deadly attacks. If the cycle of violence is to be broken, it is vital that those responsible for mass-murder are held to account for their crimes.

On December 28th 2015, the Alliance for Justice will mark the 15th anniversary of the Titanic Express massacre with a candlelit vigil close to the Burundian Embassy in Trafalgar Square, London. We will also be protesting against the ongoing violence which continues to claim lives today. Please join us if you can, and share with any others who might be able to attend:

Vigil to remember those killed in the December 28th 2000 Titanic Express massacre

December 28th 2015, 3pm, Trafalgar Square, London

Followed by a protest calling for an end to the ongoing violence and impunity in Burundi

Supported by the family of Charlotte Wilson and by members of the Burundian and Congolese UK diaspora

For more information please contact richardcameronwilson AT yahoo DOT co DOT UK