PRESS RELEASE ON THE BURUNDIANS AND FRIENDS OF BURUNDI MARCH IN LONDON
Burundians and Friends of Burundi March on London
London– April 05, 2014 –Burundians and friends of Burundi who live in the United Kingdom have organised a peaceful March against political violence and human rights abuse occurring in Burundi at present on Saturday 5th of April, 2014, designed to call on the Burundian Government and political leaders to end the political violence that is currently rocking this East African country as well as letting the world know that there is an escalation of political violence and human rights abuse in Burundi while urging both Burundians and the entire international community, including the United Kingdom Government, to act before it is not too late. The March also calls up the UK Government to use its influence to advocate for concrete actions within the European Union to accompany Burundi on a peaceful and democratic path in light of new closer diplomatic relations with Burundi.
The March comes across a backdrop of a crackdown on civil liberties and political opposition parties ahead of the crucial 2015 Presidential elections, leaving Burundians to fight against a new wave of political imprisonments and a limiting of free expression and peaceful protests. Amnesty International warned in 2012 that in Burundi, “Impunity remained widespread and became further entrenched. Extrajudicial executions and political killings increased. The justice system remained politicized. Human rights defenders and journalists faced increased repression” (Annual Report 2012). Since 2012,the situation has worsened.
The current situation in Burundi is so precarious that numerous EU, US and UN officials have recognised the severe violence and its potential for destabilising Burundi and the entire Great Lakes Region. The EU High Representative Catherine Ashton notes with concern “the heightened political tension in Burundi which has given rise to a growing number of incidents and acts of intimidation which run counter to freedom of expression, freedom of association and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.”( March 12, 2014) .Belgian Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Didier Reydners echoes the EU High Representative in deploring “the growing tension and the diminished freedom of speech and association in the country”. (March 26, 2014). Russ Feingold, the US Special Representative for the Great Lakes Region, warned that current political tension in Burundi is “one of the more serious problems in the region right now.” (February 20, 2014). In addition, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights expressed her concerns that restrictions “have increasingly been imposed on freedom of assembly and on the press over the past few months in Burundi” and denounced politically motivated killings. (Navi Pillay, March 7, 2014). And last but not least, Samantha Power, the US Ambassador to the United Nations, tweeted in unequivocal terms that “Burundi recently sent troops to protect people of CAR, but must also respect rights at home. Violence and political crackdown must end.” (March 18, 2014).
Burundians settled in UK, are very and highly concerned of how the situation in Burundi is very critical, dangerous and fraught with risks of turning into a civil war once again. What we see and hear on Media channels is far from reassuring. Scores of people being victimized, imprisoned and killed just because they do not agree or don’t support the ruling party CNDD FDD and its Government or just because one supports other parties is an alarming cause for concern.
The Burundian government must protect and respect human rights, particularly with respect to political opposition parties. Specifically, the March calls upon the Burundian government to: 1) Uphold civil liberties; 2) End violence against peaceful protesters; 3) Give all political parties unrestricted access to their members; 4) Free all political prisoners; 5) Prosecute political party youth engaging in violence; and 5) Implement the Kayanza roadmap.
The March will begin on Saturday, 5th of April, 2014 at 11:00am on OLD PALACE YARD, NEXT TO THE WESTMINSTER HOUSE OF PARLIAMENT. After few guests speakers, we aim to do a short Procession to RICHMOND TERRACE where we will present the letter to Downing Street at Number 10. This peaceful march does not support nor is against any political party or the government. [PLEASESHARE]