BURUNDI A new phase of the war and an escalation of arrests

Editorial of Tribune Libre des Travailleurs (WorkersOpen Forum),
published monthly by the Workers and Democracy Party-PTD
(August 2020 issue n° 120)

Early in the morning of 23 August 2020 a group of armed men coming from the RDC (Democratic Republic of Congo) sneaked into the hills above small fishing villages along Lake Tanganyika. The governor of Rumonge has said that they are “outlaws coming from the RDC”; they killed 11 people who were carrying goods stolen from the township of Bugarama. According to the newspaper Iwacu, all the declarations from people living in fishing villages scattered along the coasts of Lake Tanganyika from Gitaza towndhip to Muhuta, in Rumonge and all along to Nyanza-Lac testify to the same: “Several people stole into the country from RDC via Lake Tanganyika”. Other sources indicate that during the night of Sunday 30 August, armed gangs came in the near vici­nity of the bridge over the Dama River, less than 10 kilometres from Rumonge. “The men headed towards Cunda in Burambi, then towards Buyengero.” The same sources mention others who stole into the Kigwena natural reserve, part of Rumonge township, and those who passed near Kabonga in the Nyanza-Lac township in Makamba province in the south of Burundi. “They probably wanted to reach Rukambasi, so they used the same route that the former rebels of the FDD took in the past.” From Gahuni, a group mar­ched towards Burambi township (Rumonge). Another group reportedly entered the Mugamba township via Murembwe River to spend a few hours in the Nyagasasa, Kivumu and Ruhinga hills. In the evening, the Mugamba gang reportedly continued on towards Mukike township via Ruhinga II, crossing the Mubarazi River. Witnesses indicate they are the ones who reached Ndayi, the on the Mukike Hill that marks the border with Mugamba, at nightfall on Friday 28 August, where they killed two men and wounded several others; one person is also reported missing there.

This has caused a climate of panic within the population. This fear of attacks from rebels has combined with the fear of arrests by the police and the SNR (the national intelligence service). In Mukike (Bujum­bura), Rumonge, Mugamba (Bururi), Rusaka (Mwaro) and Bubanza, arrests have multi­plied since the individuals arrived in these provinces. Many of the people who have been arrested have been charged with collusion with those groups. In one case, according to local sources, 12 people were arrested in Magara in the Bugarama township. Those people mostly are night guards in this fishing village. They are charged with witnessing the infiltration of “outlaws” coming from the Democratic Republic of Congo a fortnight ago. Another one was arrested in Gisagazuba, charged with “collusion with a group of outlaws” accor­ding to a local administrative official. A primary school teacher in the Muhuzu, Minago district, was arrested by the SNR official of the Rumonge province for the same motive. These arrests have also escalated throughout the country, and are intensifying fear among the population.

This situation is one that was foreseeable, inasmuch as all political events and elections in this country are taking place against the backdrop of privatisation-pillage and the paying of the foreign debt. These are policies that are imposed on the country by imperia­lism, its multinationals and its institutions, as was emphasised in the editorial of La Tribune Libre des Travailleurs, in April 2020’s issue n° 116.

The PTD (Parti des Travailleurs et de la Démocratie, the Party of Workers and Demo­cracy), like the workers, the small farmers, peasants and young people of this country, is opposed to the wars that are but part of imperialism’s plans, which the population has always been the victim of. It is urgent to break with imperialism and its devastating plans, so that the Burundi people may live in dignity and peace, through the calling of an election of a sovereign Constituent Assembly, so that the hard-working people may be masters of their country’s wealth and  destiny.