According to a Human Rights Watch (HRW) report released Wednesday, more than 180 bodies have been found on the outskirts of Djibo, a town in northern Burkina Faso.
Human Rights Watch reports that those buried were all men. Residents found the bodies in groups ranging from 3 to 20 on the outskirts of Djibo from November 2019 to June 2020.
The report said residents believed “the majority of the victims were ethnic Fulani or Peuhl men, identified by their clothing and physical features.” Furthermore, “many were found blindfolded and with bound hands, and had been shot.”
The military openly controls Djibo. Residents had to obtain authorization by the military to bury the dead. Although, many remain unburied as resident fear burying them will associate them with accused terrorists.
HRW is urging Burkina Faso authorities to investigate who turned Djibo into a “killing field.” Corinne Dufka, HRW’s Sahel director said, “Existing information points toward government security forces, so it’s critical to have impartial investigations, evidence properly gathered, and families informed about what happened to their loved ones.”
Further, HRW urges Burkina Faso to invite the UN or other neutral forensic experts to help preserve and analyze evidence at the scene. HRW additionally claims exhumations without experts can destroy evidence and compromise identification.
The New York Times claims the HRW report matches eyewitness accounts from their report on extrajudicial killings. It is unclear how many people have been killed in recent months, as Burkina Faso passed a law preventing journalists from reporting anything that could demoralize defense forces.