The silent human catastrophe in Burundi

The principal cause of conflicts in the Great Lakes region is ethnicity. Minority Tutsi – some ten percent of the total population – are trying to restore domination they enjoyed from the 15th century to 1962 when they were defeated in pre-independence elections of 1962 in Rwanda, Burundi and Uganda (Ankole).

Because they are minority they collaborate with foreigners in order to dominate others. In Rujumbura Makobore collaborated with Arab and Swahili slave traders to defeat Bantu people that were subsequently dubbed Bairu (slaves or servants). Makobore then sold members of defeated Bantu groups into slavery (“The [Indian Ocean] coastal traders were also employed in interstate raids for slaves. For example, Makobore, the [Tutsi] king of Rujumbura, employed them in his raids against Butumbi and Kayonza. The important social effect of the coming of the coastal traders on the peoples of south-western Uganda was the arms trade. Weaker societies were raided for slaves while interstate warfare was rampant” (B. A. Ogot 1976). Bantu grazing land was confiscated and Bantu short horn cattle were replaced by Tutsi long horn cattle and Bantu were reduced to cultivators largely for the benefit of Tutsi consumers. That is how Bairu came to be known as cultivators while they were wealthy mixed farmers combined with manufacturing products before interaction with Tutsi.

Export of labor to international markets and the thriving human trafficking under NRM Tutsi-led regime in Uganda is reminiscent of slave trade.

In Rwanda, Bantu were also defeated by Tutsi, dispossessed of their land and cattle and like Bairu were reduced to slaves or servants whom they dubbed Hutus. In fact in Rwanda Tutsi introduced a feudal system of lords, knights and serfs. This is precisely what is being introduced in Rwanda and Uganda but in subtle ways. Let us look at the way Tutsi have dealt with Hutu in Burundi since shortly before independence in 1962.

1. Prince Louis Rwagasore, a progressive eldest son of the king who had even married a Hutu woman won the pre-independence elections in September 1961 and was appointed prime minister. He aimed to unite all groups and interests. In October 1961, a Tutsi rival hired a foreigner who assassinated the prime minister.

2. Rwagasore was succeeded by a Hutu prime minister, Pierre Ngendandumwe who was also assassinated in 1965 by a Tutsi refugee from Rwanda.

3. The 1965 elections were won overwhelmingly by Hutu and expected the king to appoint a Hutu prime minister. Instead the king appointed a Tutsi. Bitterness followed leading to the massacre or first genocide of Hutu.

4. In July 1966, the king was deposed by his son who, in turn, appointed a Tutsi soldier captain Michel Micombero prime minister who, in turn, overthrew the king in November 1966 and declared Burundi a republic. There followed purges of Hutu who resisted domination and exploitation, leading to the second genocide of 1972.

5. In November 1976, Micombero was overthrown by his cousin Col. Jean-Baptiste Bagaza. His regime was characterized by massive abuse of human rights particularly against religious freedom.

6. In September 1987, Bagaza was overthrown by his close associate Major Pierre Buyoya. Micombero, Bagaza and Buyoya came from the same village of Bururi in southern Burundi.

7. In August 1988, there were Hutu-Tutsi fights in northern towns of Ntega and Marangara provoked by Tutsi. The Tutsi-dominated army was dispatched and carried out a third genocide of Hutu people. In a cabinet reshuffle, Buyoya appointed a Hutu, Adrien Sibomana to the post of prime minister.

8. Melchior Ndadaye a Hutu defeated Tutsi Buyoya in the presidential elections of June 1993. He became the first Hutu president. In October 1993 Ndadaye was assassinated by Tutsi soldiers. Catharine Watson reports that other Hutu officials murdered “included intelligence chief Richard Ndikumwami, interior minister Juvenal Ndayikeza, parliamentary president Pontien Karibwami, and parliamentary vice president Giles Bimazubute … The Tutsi eliminated the Hutu leaders. The deaths of Ndadaye, Karibwami and others in 1993 follow the deaths in the 1960s and 1970s of two Hutu prime ministers, three parliamentary presidents and vice presidents, almost all Hutu parliamentarians in the 1965 national assembly , trade unionists, a party president and thousands of army officers, senior civil servants, doctors, judges, teachers, headmasters and businessmen. Today there is one Hutu lawyer: He trained abroad. There are no Hutu doctors over the age of 45” (Africa Report Jan/Feb 1994).

It is alleged that the 1993 coup against the government of Burundi was organized in Entebbe, Uganda by Museveni and Kagame. “Museveni also had a hand in the Oct. 23, 1993 coup against Burundi President Melchior Ndadaye, whose election had ended 31 years of Tutsi military rule in Burundi. According to some sources, Museveni planned the coup in a meeting in Entebbe which included RPF’s Paul Kagame. Two coup ring leaders, major Bucokoza and Lt. Paul Kamana , were in Kampala, openly carousing with Ugandan officers, from late October 1993 to February 1994 and according to Burundi sources, they are both now with the RPF” (EIR November 1994).

In his article sub-titled “Museveni killed Burundian democracy” Dr. Peter Njjumba observed “Because, as you know, in 1993, before elections in Burundi took place, Museveni was against elections in Burundi, because it would betray the cause of the Tutsis … After the swearing in of Ndadaye in June 1993, the President … came and he told us … about the successful experiment in Burundi. Museveni said a few weeks later: ‘You know, if you think the solution of democracy is made in elections that is wrong’.

“A few months later Ndadaye was dead. Museveni was not even ashamed to say that the experiment in Burundi was not solved by elections. We have quotations and dates about all those statements” (EIR April 1997). The death of Ndagaye was also followed by massacre or fourth genocide of Hutu by Tutsi military.

In February 1994, a Hutu named Cyprien Ntaryamira was elected president of Burundi. On April6 1996 while returning from a summit in Tanzania, Ntaryamira and Juvenal Habyarimana another Hutu president of Rwanda were killed in a plane crash as a result of a rocket attack above Kigali as it was about to land. Who shot down the plane has remained a mystery. Some claim the RPF did, others allege it was done by extremist group in the Habyarimana government.

9. Sylvestre Ntibantunganya speaker of the national assembly, a Hutu, became interim president and in September 1994 was elected full president.

10. In July 1996, Buyoya a Tutsi who lost presidential election to Ndagaye in 1993 carried out a military coup against the government of Ntibantunganya and became president again, leading to fighting between Tutsi army and Hutu militias.

Yesterday, I wrote about genocide and crimes against Hutu committed by Tutsi inside and outside Rwanda. The massacres and genocides in Burundi have also been committed by Tutsi against Hutu. Yet the overwhelming majority of European and North American writers and commentators blame Hutu for the atrocities in the Great Lakes region treating Tutsi as victims that must be armed, funded and trained to defend themselves against ‘murderous’ Hutus that one diplomat dubbed the bad guys. Justice hasn’t been served in this region and sectarianism in favor of Tutsi is being promoted openly by Tutsi-led governments in Rwanda and Burundi who have support of western powers that support them for seats in the United Nations Security Council and United Nations Human Rights Council among others. There are rumors subject to confirmation that the next president of the United Nations General Assembly may come from Uganda.

Those who have attempted to expose these atrocities have been intimidated, insulted and threatened with death to themselves and/or members of their families and relatives. For my part, I want to assure readers and listeners to my broadcasts that I have dedicated the balance of my life to the struggle to bring about liberty, justice, equality, dignity and pursuit of happiness of all peoples in the Great Lakes region.