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Burundi: Extrajudicial executions / fear of further extrajudicial executions

, Index number: AFR 16/017/1999

Amnesty International is concerned for the safety of the civilian population in Kanyosha and Kabezi communes, Rural Bujumbura province, as scores of unarmed civilians including children have reportedly been indiscriminately killed by members of the armed forces since 10 August

PUBLIC AI Index: AFR 16/17/99
UA 207/99 Extrajudicial executions / Fear of further extrajudicial executions 13 August 1999
BURUNDIUnarmed civilians, Kanyosha and Kabezi communes, Rural Bujumbura
Province
Amnesty International is concerned for the safety of the civilian population
in Kanyosha and Kabezi communes, Rural Bujumbura province, as scores of unarmed
civilians including children have reportedly been indiscriminately killed by
members of the armed forces since 10 August.
The final death toll is not yet known. However,some sources claim that over
100 bodies have already been counted in Busoro and Nkenga areas, and more remain
hidden in houses destroyed during the military operation. The area has been
closed off by the armed forces and military operations are reported to be
continuing. Members of parliament who attempted to visit the area on 12 August
were not permitted to do so by the armed forces. Scores more killings are reported
to have taken place early on 12 August in nearby Ruziba, Kabezi commune.
On 10 August at around 11am, members of an armed opposition group attacked
a market in Kanyosha, close to the capital. At least one member of the security
forces was killed in the attack. The armed opposition group reportedly looted
the market undisturbed and left towards the hills overlooking Bujumbura. The
subsequent sequence of events is still unclear. It appears that following
the departure of the armed opposition, soldiers, reportedly accompanied by
armed civilians, returned with reinforcements, including heavy weapons.
Civilians fleeing towards the capital were turned back by soldiers and ordered
to return to their homes. In the afternoon of 10 August and continuing into
11 August, soldiers, again according to some reports, accompanied by armed
civilians, attacked, burnt and pillaged houses in the Busoro and Nkenga areas,
killing inhabitants they found. Around 30 unarmed civilians may also have been
shot and killed by members of the armed forces as they fled Kanyosha market.
On 12 August, upto 70 unarmed people are reported to have been extrajudicially
executed by soldiers from the Gitaramuka military post, Ruziba, Kabezi. Soldiers
stopped people going into Bujumbura from the hills, making them wait by the
road at Butoza. They reportedly asked them for information on the armed
opposition, following the attack on Kanyosha market. For reasons that are
not clear, soldiers reportedly then shot, and threw grenades into the group
of people, estimated to have been between 100 and 200. There is no confirmed
death toll, but first reports suggest that up to 80 people may have been killed.
Other extrajudicial executions have been carried out in Bujumbura itself. On
7 August, two people, Melchior Magoranwa and Audace Gashimwe, were beaten to
death with iron rods and sticks at a military position in Buterere I, Cibitoke
zone, Bujumbura. Five others were injured, three of them seriously. Soldiers
from the post have been removed but not charged with a criminal offence. The
seven victims are reported to have been accused of breaking the curfew and
suspected collaboration with the armed opposition. Another man, Rashid
Delachance, was reportedly beaten to death on 9 August by police officers in
Ngagara, Bujumbura. Two police officers have been arrested.
Amnesty International is appealing for the Government of Burundi to ensure
that unarmed civilians taking no part in the hostilities are not targeted by
its forces during counter-insurgency operations. It is also appealing for
the armed opposition to refrain from committing human rights abuses.
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BACKGROUND INFORMATION
Armed opposition groups have been increasingly active in Rural Bujumbura in
recent weeks, and have attacked areas of the capital itself several times.
Both sides have committed human rights abuses. Members of the armed opposition
have carried out scores of deliberate and arbitrary killings. Reprisals by
the armed forces have been brutal and indiscriminate. At least 600 unarmed
civilians are reported to have been killed by the armed forces in Rural Bujumbura
since November 1998. These killings appear to be almost exclusively
extrajudicial executions as acts of reprisal, rather than resulting directly
from the conflict. Virtually none of the killings have been the subject of
impartial independent investigations.
RECOMMENDED ACTION: Please send telegrams/telexes/faxes/express/airmail
letters in French or your own language:
- calling for immediate action to be taken to prevent further extrajudicial
executions during and after counter-insurgency operations;
- calling for reports of extrajudicial executions to be impartially
investigated, and if substantiated, those responsible brought to justice
(mention the recent extrajudicial executions in Bujumbura, Kanyosha and
Ruziba);
- calling for journalists, human rights organizations and investigators to
have access to the area, to be able to carry out their work independently and
for witnesses to be protected from human rights violations.
APPEALS TO: (Please note it can be difficult to get faxes through. You may
be told by the operator that the line is not working or the number is wrong.
Please keep trying.)
President
Major Pierre Buyoya
Président de la République
Présidence de la République
BP 1870, Bujumbura, Burundi
Telegrams:Major Buyoya, Bujumbura, Burundi
Faxes:+ 257 22 7490
Salutation:Dear President
Minister of Defence
Lieutenant-Col. Alfred NKURUNZIZA
Ministre de la Défense Nationale
Ministère de la Défense Nationale
BP 1870 Bujumbura, Burundi
Telegrams: Ministre Défense, Bujumbura, Burundi
Faxes:+ 257 22 39 59 / 21 75 05
Salutation:Monsieur le Ministre/Dear Minister
Chief of Defence Staff
Lt-Col Vincent NIYUNGEKO
Chef de l’Etat-major général des Forces armées
Etat-major général des Forces armées
Ministère de la Défense nationale
BP 1870 Bujumbura, Burundi
Salutation: Monsieur le Chef de l’Etat-major
Fax: 257 22 39 59 / 21 75 05
Tlx: 5146MDMBDI / 5049MDNBDI
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Military Prosecutor
Colonel BATUNGWAYAYO
Auditeur Militaire
Ministère de la Défense
Bujumbura, Burundi
Telegrams: Auditeur Militaire, Bujumbura, Burundi
Faxes:+ 22 39 59 / 21 75 05
Salutation:Monsieur l’Auditeur Militaire / Dear Military Prosecutor
COPIES TO:
Minister for Human Rights
Eugène NINDORERA, Ministre des droits de la Personne humaine, des réformes
institutionnelles, et des relations avec l’Assemblée nationale, Ministère des
droits de la Personne humaine, des réformes institutionnelles, et des relations
avec l’Assemblée nationale, Bujumbura, Burundi
Faxes:+ 257 21 75 49
and to diplomatic representatives of Burundi accredited to your country.
PLEASE SEND APPEALS IMMEDIATELY. Check with the International Secretariat,
or your section office, if sending appeals after 23 September 1999.

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