This Burundian life has been taken hostage!

We passed the 40 day mark, since the people of Burundi have declared they will not accept to be governed by Nkurunziza one or x more terms. The people have tasted democracy and peace simultaneously and have refused to return to a dictatorship or war. But Nkurunziza has decided he needs this third term so much, that he will take a whole entire country hostage. OUR Burundi, he has decided is HIS Burundi.

This Burundian life has been taken hostage!

Nkurunziza has taken Burundi hostage. He took hostage all the Burundian government institutions. Our new, our young, our hard won, democratic institutions are now in his hands. It starts with corruption, then some extrajudicial killings here and there, than “nyakurization”. Yes he took over the opposition!!! Even more importantly he slowly but surely is taking over the legislative, and the judiciary. He has taken our constitution hostage. He is making it say whatever he wants, and forcing all the other branches of government to be accomplices of this kidnapping. Nkurunziza has taken hostage our constitution just so he can run another term. He has taken our police forces hostage. Hiring poor people in rural areas, making them sleep in barricades, sending them to crack down on protests untrained, letting them go hungry and thirsty while they do his dirty work. The people they have been violating feel even more sympathy towards them and feed them while their commander fails to care for them. He has taken hostage our children, using their schools as military positions. Last, and most importantly, he has taken hostage the only government institution that ALL Burundians have trusted for a decade, the only part of government we were all proud of: our armed forces! He started by arming civilians and training them, in case republican forces would not bow down to ALL his wishes, and now he divided the emblem of our peace and the defenders of our nations into “putshistes” and “loyalists”. As since the start, some have overtly objected to his use of excessive force on civil population, some even went to the point of attempting to depose him, so now, anyone not chanting his name, or hesitating to shoot blank at an unarmed protestor, is obviously a putshiste in his book. As much as coup plotters should accept responsibility for their act, and they have by surrendering, we have to remember the division is all about the third term and the toll it is taking on our nation.

This Burundian life has been taken hostage!

Nkurunziza has taken hostage our economy. It started with bad governance, with corruption, but now he has brought the entire city to a stand still. By shooting against legitimate protestors, by using terror to receive votes, Nkurunziza has taken hostage the economy. Now people are protesting, not working for safety concerns, or desperately trying to make ends meat in an economy in a coma. The only people that can work are public servants, security companies, and health care workers. Many have predicted it our government will be bankrupt in less than a month. Why would any civil servants risk their way to work when they know for sure they will not be compensated? I cannot use numbers to illustrate this because I don’t want to turn this catastrophe into a statistic. It is a catastrophe, mothers selling fruits in the market become victims of grenade attacks, when others are so desperate to sell theirs they are selling at a loss. It is a catastrophe, when getting a foreign currency is harder than dismantling the coup that happened a couple weeks ago.

This Burundian life has been taken hostage!

Nkurunziza has taken hostage all our freedoms and rights. Starting with our right to free and fair elections. He has forced himself as a candidate, threatened people to vote for him, and insists we vote even though the entire country is in the highest level of unrest. Then he took our right to due process hostage. Six hundred protestors imprisoned in three weeks, no one was seen at any court. Arrest warrants on opposition leaders with no reason! Lastly, he has taken hostage our freedom of speech and information. Burundi had been flourishing with independent media. With a dozen radio stations, some publications and an independent television channel. They have ALL been completely destroyed. If we assume that there is a possibility army members loyal to him did not commit this destruction of our freedom, we can remember that he had banned the waves of any independent radio before the coup, and is delaying the re-opening of the media-houses now that they were destroyed. Luckily, foreign media has shown some interest to our crisis, we can rely on some to relay us information. Even more luckily, some of our journalists, despite being out of a job, with no employer, do their best everyday to relay the information they get access to through social media. But for the mass of Burundians, information= “keeping up with the Nkurunzizas” on national TV and radio. Meanwhile we have all turned into investigative journalists, all reviewing information we receive with a breeze of suspicion even when it is not government sponsored. How are people supposed to campaign without one independent media outlook?

This Burundian life has been taken hostage!

Nkurunziza took hostage our lives. Thousands risk their lives daily to demand his removal from the presidential race. We might think it is only a couple dozens dead, it is the price to pay to fight for freedom and democracy. But it is not! Each dead person represents ten people that flee out of fear and countless people living in hiding. And he claims only 0.10% of the national territory is unhappy. Obviously, their disapproval of his raping our constitution is proof that they are terrorists. They are obviously the ones that made people swim across borders. Funny, when they did not cross paths with the said 0.10% troublemakers thanks to Nkurunziza’s effective police and the censorship then destruction of all media and social media I wonder what is driving them way? Oh, I think I know, it is because they were held hostage. Held hostage by the police turned into a terror force, or the party youth he carefully turned into a bloodthirsty militia.

This Burundian life has been taken hostage!

Someday this hostage situation shall end. Freedom shall come. It shall be tainted by brave people’s blood, scented with the despair of poor people, soaked in the tears of children, the dignity of mothers, and the unheard outcry of millions. Burundi will return to its people, it is such a shame it has to cost us so much. As I write this, I speak of an entire nation. Yet Nkurunziza has some genuine supporters out there. I keep hearing you, and try my best to communicate with you. I want to tell you that freedom will be won, and that my freedom is yours just as much. The fears that are feeding your paranoia have no reason to be. This is not Tutsis being nostalgic of power, the media feeding false information, the west spitting at our sovereignty, or any other conspiracy theory you believe in. This is people at the grassroots reminding their elected officials what their God given rights are. And if some opportunists dare take advantage of our cry for salvation, we will invite you to join our constant fight for the dignity of our people and the sovereignty of our nation.

Burundi BWACU, you have been taken hostage!

This Burundian life has been taken hostage!

By MRG. She currently lives in Toronto, Canada. You can follow her on Twitter at @msmiraiga

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