by Ann Garrison
KPFA Weekend News broadcast Jan. 16, 2016
KPFA Weekend News Anchor Sharon Sobotta: The argument over atrocities committed in Bujumbura, the capital of the East African nation of Burundi, continues. Who is responsible and why is it happening?
Western policymakers, press and some Burundian opposition figures accuse the government of President Pierre Nkurunziza and call for an intervention by African Union troops that Burundi has said it will respond to as invaders. The government denies that it attacks civilians and accuses the opposition not only of terrorist attacks but also of attacking civilians so as to blame the attacks on the government and heighten pressure for military intervention. KPFA’s Ann Garrison has more.
KPFA/Ann Garrison: On Friday, the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights released a statement accusing Burundi’s security forces of gang raping Burundian women and arresting, torturing and killing young men in a neighborhood known to be a stronghold of armed insurgents. The insurgents have thrown grenades into public places, assassinated top military and government officials and even claimed to fire on President Pierre Nkurunziza’s residence, but the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights didn’t mention that.
Former U.N. refugee camp official Jeff Drumtra and the independent NGO Refugees International have documented Rwandan recruitment of Burundian refugees in Rwanda’s Mahama Refugee Camp to fight in Burundi, but the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights didn’t mention that either and he hasn’t acknowledged that documentation.
On Wednesday this week, a French public television program titled The Evening 3 on the channel France 3, aired a video of several men being hideously murdered and mutilated with machetes and reported that the murderers were Burundian security forces in northwestern Burundi, on land owned by President Pierre Nkurunziza’s party.
Yesterday, however, France 24’s The Observers team debunked that report in their own, titled, “How a French TV channel aired fake footage of a ‘massacre in Burundi.’” They reported that a Belgian lawyer, Bernard Maingain, who represents the opposition in Burundi, gave the footage to France 3, which France 3 confirmed.
France 24’s Observers Team also said that the France 3 report, titled “Proof of acts of violence in Burundi,” alleges that the footage had been filmed on Jan. 11, 2016, but that they had found a longer version of the video posted on YouTube on Dec. 22, 2015. France 24’s Observers also reported that the language you hear in the video is neither Kirundi, the official and majority language of Burundi, nor a language of Burundi’s neighbor DR Congo. It is instead Hausa, a language spoken in West African nations, which are thousands of miles from Burundi.
Also on Friday, the France 3 channel’s Evening 3 new program removed the video from its website and broadcast this apology:
France Soir 3: Let’s go back to our Wednesday evening broadcast on Burundi during which we showed excerpts of a video depicting abuses which were said to have been shot at the beginning of the week in Burundi. Authentication of the images is in question and it appears that the video is older and that it was shot in a West African nation and not in Burundi. We of course hope that you will be willing to accept our apologies.
KPFA/Sharon Sobotta: And that was the French newscast The Evening 3 on the public channel France 3, apologizing for airing a video of atrocities falsely attributed to Burundian security forces. KPFA’s Ann Garrison had that report for us.
Oakland writer Ann Garrison writes for the San Francisco Bay View, Black Agenda Report, Black Star News, Counterpunch and her own website, Ann Garrison, and produces for AfrobeatRadio on WBAI-NYC, KPFA Evening News, KPFA Flashpoints and for her own YouTube Channel, AnnieGetYourGang. She can be reached at email@example.com. In March 2014 she was awarded the Victoire Ingabire Umuhoza Democracy and Peace Prize for promoting peace in the Great Lakes Region of Africa through her reporting.
Youtube post of the Project Censored Radio Show’s 01/01/2016 interview with Willie Nyamitwe, communications advisor to Burundian President Pierre Nkurunziza.