Thursday, March 23, 2023

4 Burundian rights activists were arrested while trying to travel

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NAIROBI, Kenya – Four human rights activists have been arrested in Burundi as they tried to travel to Uganda for a meeting with civil society organizations.

Speaking on condition of anonymity for fear of retaliation, witnesses at Bujumbura airport and security personnel and the national human rights commission told The Associated Press that National Intelligence Service agents made the arrests Tuesday morning.

The reason for the arrest was not immediately known. Such arrests have been common in recent years in Burundi, where guards have accused the current and previous administrations of targeting critics and stifling dissent.

Anschaire Nikoyagize, the president of Ligue Iteka, the country’s oldest human rights organization, confirmed the arrests.

The arrested are Audace Havyarimana, legal representative of the Association for Peace and Promotion of Human Rights; Sylvana Inamahoro, the group’s executive director; Sonia Ndikumasabo, president of the Association of Women Lawyers of Burundi; and Marie Emerusabe, general coordinator of the association.

There was no immediate statement from Burundian authorities. Attorney General Sylvestre Nyandwi and prosecutor’s office spokeswoman Agnès Bangiricenge did not respond to requests for comment.

On a recent visit to Burundi, the European Union’s special representative for human rights, Eamon Gilmore, expressed concern about the “human rights challenges” there.

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