Tuesday, 22 December 2015

Burundi: Cry Beloved Country

There’s no other name that can be used to define what is currently going on in Burundi. It is purely state terrorism. Before proceeding with the situation in Burundi, let’s unpack some ideas on terrorism generally. Although there is no an agreed upon definition of terrorism, there are two types of terrorism, state and group terrorism. Up till now, there are about 109 definitions of terrorism. Sometimes in one country like the US various departments have their own definitions of terrorism that are different from others. In his book Understanding terrorism: Challenges, perspectives, Gus Martin says that there are three elements that all these 109 definitions share namely “use of violence motivated by religious, political or ideological beliefs to instill fear as means of coercing government or society,”. 
             Terrorism is committed when one group of terrorist commit acts of violence by targeting soft targets such as civilians, infrastructure and whatever is assailable; so as to is committed when the state uses its security and intelligence machinery and might to eliminate, intimidate or silence its opponents.  In this piece we are going to unpack some ideas on state terrorism that is going on in Burundi.
            When the conflict in Burundi surfaced after President Pierre Nkurunziza decided to seek a third term in office; and after a section of the army staged a failed coup, the international community seems to have not gotten it. For, despite all, Nkurunziza still has stayed put to cling unto power even by shedding innocent blood of those opposing him. Despite the fragility of the situation, the international community, especially the United Nations (UN) and the East African Community (EAC), didn’t take decisive measures to contain or transform, manage or resolve it. Politics and paternalism seems have taken much place instead and real and scientific ways of addressing the issue were put aside. Professionally speaking, once the conflict escalates like it sadly still is, in Burundi what’s needed is de-escalate it something that is still missing. Prominent Kenyan MP, Ababu Namwamba was recently quoted as saying, “But we want to tell all the five regional presidents who are sitting and watching Burundi slide into the abyss without lifting a finger that history will judge them all very harshly.” Who will stop this carnage and mendacity? Kenya is busy fighting group terrorism in Somalia. Uganda and Rwanda lack moral authority. It is only Tanzania that can chip in and do something about the megalomania that is going on in Burundi so to speak. Reuters (June 19, 2015) reported that at least 70 people were killed by government agents in Bujumbura “since clashes erupted between security forces and activists protesting against President Pierre Nkurunziza’s bid for a third term, a leading Burundian human rights group said.” UN figures released before Friday's violence showed at least 240 people had been killed and more than 200,000 had fled the country of around 11 million since a failed coup in May. This is according to the AFP (December 16, 2015).
            Since Burundian president Nkurunziza tampered with the constitution and ran for the third term in office contrary to the constitution, over 300 have already lost their lives. Some analysts are wary that if the current trend is not stopped, soon Burundi would cascade into ethnic violence due to the fact that the majority of those who were killed recently are said to be Tutsis. This is according Al Jazeera (December 15, 2015). Looking at how neighbours and the international community are staying side and watch, one wonders. The world didn’t learn from Rwandan genocide. Desmond Tutu says that history teaches us that we don’t learn from history. Essentially, this is what we now see even after tens of innocent people are reported to be killed by their own government that is supposed to protect them. What has the international community done to avert more danger after such killings exacerbate the conflict? UN introduced R2P or Right to Protect after Rwandan genocide allowing other states to override sovereignty resulting from the Peace of Westphalia (1648) that gives the states sacrosanctity against interference. Why is it taking long for the UN to come in forcefully and timely? How many should Nkurunziza and his henchmen kill that will awaken the international community? Aren’t this mendacity and duplicity and insincerity against innocent people in Burundi? Isn’t this a betrayal to such people at this hour of need?
            By the look of things, it seems. Nkurunziza is hell-bent to commit terrorism if it assures him to remain in power. To him, spilling blood as long as it assures him of power is nothing to worry about.  Arguably, if the EAC and AU and UN have failed, someone else is going to fix the problem in Burundi. Ironically, the solution for Burundi’s conflict can come from an unexpected angle. Due to the impasse in Burundi, only the International Criminal Court (ICC) can turn things around if it starts the process of indicting Nkurunziza. Ironically, Nkurunziza seems to be comfortable with playing into the hands of the ICC wantonly.

            In sum, I understand how African leaders think the ICC has been targeting them. Again, if they fail to arrest the situation in Burundi what should they expect as far as gross violations of human rights are concerned. To avoid being targeted by the ICC, African leaders must stop carnage in Burundi urgently and timely.
Source: African Exective, Dec., 23, 2015.

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