By Fidel Munyeshyaka

Research Burundi GLCSS

This week the Human Rights Watch (HRW) released a report denouncing human rights abuses committed by the security services against the National Liberation Front (FNL) collaborators. The report comes at a time when the FNL rebels have refused to take part in the Joint Verification and Monitoring Mechanism (JVMM) charged with overseeing the implementation of the peace pact.
 The report accuses the government of 38 cases of killings and torture and some 200 cases of illegal detention by the National Intelligence Service (SNR). Most of the victims are reportedly young men arrested on suspicion of collaborating with the FNL rebels.

People accused of collaborating with the FNL were arrested and taken to a military camp and their bodies were found in a river a few days later. Disappearance and assassination of some 30 people attributed to SNR were reported in Muyinga province in July and August 2006. Four men were also killed in state custody.

“Since the new government took office, the intelligence service has been free to use any means necessary, including killing and torture, to reach its goals,” reports HRW.

The FNL rebels have boycotted their seats in the JVMM, which has been established to integrate the FNL. Prior to joining the JVMM, they have demanded the release of its members and amnesty for its fighters. The rebels also want the arrests of its collaborators to stop prior to joining the integration commission. FNL spokesperson Habimana said four of the six people appointed by Rwasa to represent FNL in the JVMM were detained.

A Joint Verification and Monitoring Mechanism, created to implement the agreement began work on 11 October in Bujumbura without the FNL representatives who also want all political prisoners released before they join. The facilitator, Charles Nqakula, South Africa’s Minister of Safety and Security, has said FNL has no reason to boycott JVMM activities adding that there is a Joint Liaison Team under the JVMM, which would deal with the issue of all political detainees.

The FNL chairman Agathon Rwasa has accused the government of missing the commitment to build a lasting peace.

 

 “The ongoing arrest of FNL collaborators shows how it is very hard to believe that the government is interested in building lasting peace through negotiations with us. This explains why the government is only interested in a ceasefire per se and is not willing to discuss the fate of combatants and militants of Palipehutu,” said the FNL’ Rwasa.

 

Other than the issue of human rights abuses, the FNL reportedly has other concerns relating to its future and the fate of their leaders not determined during the Arusha negotiations. The peace agreement allows FNL combatants to join the army but they did not specify the role Rwasa and other FNL seniors politicians will play in Burundian institutions.

Fidel Muunyeshyaka can be reached at fidel@glcss.org . GLCSS trains African journalists, offers an on-site internship to foreign African studies students, and manages an exchange program with journalists from the United Kingdom, the United States and Europe.
 

 

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