|I am a survivor of the 1994 Genocide Against the Tutsi in Rwanda. I witnessed firsthand people being killed with machetes and paddles. I saw the mass rape of women, which became one of the instruments of the ethnic cleansing. I also saw how our suffering landed on deaf ears internationally; how people worldwide watched us die and never took action to save us. Few people in the international community know that there was a mass killing in Burundi that took 300,000 lives in Burundi in 1993. Today, it seems worse as well trained young Burundians participate into the killing of innocent people; same scenario as Rwanda in 1994.
Today, it appears that Burundi is poised to endure this tragedy all over again. This time, I hope the world will not stand by and watch it happen. The small country has descended into political chaos since President Pierre Nkurunziza decided to stay in power despite peaceful protests against him.
Now, those protests have turned into mass violence. There have been reports of gang rapes of women by government forces, torture, and Tutsi ethnic repression. Signs of pre-genocide are everywhere Burundi. The United Nations (UN) estimates that more than 230,000 people have fled to neighboring countries, and 432 people have been killed. Members of the UN Security Council have just arrived in Burundi to survey the situation, but they are not sending in any peacekeeping troops. It is a one-day diplomatic meeting, and then they will leave again.
That is not enough, and it will not stop the bloodshed from escalating. I am asking the UN to do as Human Rights Watch has proposed, and use its mission in Burundi to persuade President Nkurunziza to accept a strong UN political mission with a substantial international police force to protect civilians.
During the visit, the UN council hopes to persuade Nkurunziza to agree to allow 5,000 African Union (AU) peacekeepers into the country, but his government has already declared that it would fight the peacekeepers as an “invading force.” The UN must deploy an international police force to aid the AU in order to institute any kind of order in the growing chaos.
This conflict started as a political one, but it appears to be morphing into ethnic strife. There are growing signs that Tutsis are being targeted in the Hutu-majority country, the same tension/situation that prompted the Rwandan genocide.
Back in 1994, the world sat back and argued over whether what was happening in Rwanda qualified as “genocide.” While they were taking long to decide, over 1,000,000 of my fellow countrymen died. The UN could only apologize in the aftermath.
Help me call on the UN and world leaders to ensure that they don’t have to apologize again — please implore them to bring in UN police forces now to stem the growing violence in Burundi. Remember… these precious lives including the youth, the Burundi of tomorrow, need your protection. By signing this petition, you would have contributed to peace building.