HRW: Burundi government engaging in violence against referendum opponents

HRW: Burundi government engaging in violence against referendum opponents

The Burundi government has “killed, beaten, and intimidated perceived opponents of a constitutional referendum … that would enable the president to extend his term in office,” Human Rights Watch (HRW) said [press release] Tuesday.

This referendum could allow President Pierre Nkurunziza to serve until 2034.

According to HRW, there have been 19 confirmed cases of abuse since December 12, which were all committed with the intent to influence Burundians to vote yes on this referendum. In addition to these abuses, government officials have also reportedly ordered Burundians to vote yes on the referendum.

While there are 19 confirmed cases of this abuse, the actual amount of abuse occurring is likely significantly higher, as HRW has been informed that this kind of abuse has been commonplace. These abuses have allegedly included beatings and arbitrary arrests, as well as at least one death.

HRW said that the Burundian authorities should order officials to stop committing these abuses immediately, as well as “investigate and prosecute the crimes” that were documented.