Raising alarm over an apparent “widespread pattern” of rallies in many places across Burundi where young men from the Imbonerakure militia – the youth wing of the ruling political party – repeatedly chant a call to impregnate or kill opponents, the top United Nations human rights official has called on the authorities to promptly act to stop such incitement to violence.
In a news release issued Tuesday by his office (OHCHR), UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein said that it was particularly worrying that instead of putting a stop to such events, senior government officials continue to take part in such rallies.
“The grotesque rape chants by the young men are deeply alarming – particularly because they confirm what we have been hearing from those who have fled Burundi about a campaign of fear and terror by this organised militia,” said High Commissioner Zeid.
The news release mentions a chilling video, circulating on social media of a rally in the Ntega commune, Kirundo province (northeast Burundi), in which more than 100 Imbonerakure members are seen repeating dozens of times their call to “make opponents pregnant so that they can give birth to Imbonerakure”.
In the same video, another group then repeats a chant – audible some 19 times – “he or she should die”.
The UN human rights wing noted that the ruling CNDD-FDD party, on Apri 5l, issued a statement condemning the chanting.
OHCHR, however, added that recent reports indicate that similar, larger rallies have been organised across the country by officials from the government and the president’s party.
“The condemnation is meaningless if, instead of a putting a stop to such events, senior government officials continue to take part in such rallies,” stressed Zeid.
“The Government needs to stop pretending that the Imbonerakure are nothing but a community development group. Such blatant and brazen hate speech and incitement to violence must not be tolerated, nor encouraged.”
In the news release, the UN rights chief also voiced concern over continuing reports of serious human rights violations in the African country, including “systematic use” of torture by security forces, increasing cases of enforced disappearance, nightly raids by the Imbonerakure militia into homes of people who refuse to join the ruling party, and people targeted due to their ethnicity.
According to UN estimates, more than 400,000 people have fled the African nation over the last two years fearing for their safety.