Reports from volatile Burundi indicate that Hutu extremists who back the presidency of Pierre Nkurunziza, are involved in the illegal arrests and torture of Tutsi soldiers.
Like Rwanda, Burundi is composed of two major ethnic groups [Hutus and Tutsis] who are constantly struggling for power.
On October 21, 1993, Burundi’s first democratically elected Hutu president, Melchior Ndadaye, was assassinated by Tutsi extremists.
As a result of the murder, violence broke out between the two groups, and an estimated 50,000 to 100,000 people died within a year.
In 1994, Ndadaye’s successor Cyprien Ntaryamira was assassinated in the same plane crash with Rwandan President Juvenal Habyarimana.
This act marked the beginning of the Rwandan Genocide, on one hand and worsened Burundi civil war on the other.
Repeat of events?
The latest information shows that the Burundi army under Nkurunziza who took power in August 2005 is completely divided.
Now Tutsis soldiers being arrested and tortured by extremist Hutus in the army and Imbonerakuré, a militia allied to the ruling party, according to multiple sources.
Over the weekend gunmen attacked Burundi military bases and wounded five soldiers leading to a crackdown that saw scores killed and others arrested.
The army is using the attack to carry out mass arrests.
In September, seven soldiers of the 227th battalion were arrested and accused of attacking the residence of a local prosecutor.
Early in the year, 13 soldiers from both Hutu and Tutsi were arrested for plotting a coup to overthrow Nkurunziza.
Major Gen Godefroid Niyombare was to later in May lead the coup against Nkurunziza which failed and resulted in his exile.
About 28 soldiers including senior officers were arrested and detained as a result of the coup.
On Tuesday 15 December 2015, the alleged putschists returned to court in Gitega, central Burundi.
The Court rejected the lawyers of General Cyrille Ndayirukiye and adjourned the hearing to Friday, according to SOS Media Burundi.
Rwanda trains Burundi refugees as rebels
Burundian refugees in Rwanda say they are being forcibly recruited by Burundian opposition groups and sent to military training camps in Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, allegedly with the knowledge of Rwandan security officials, according to a new report from the advocacy group Refugees International.
Unlawful recruitment of refugees has been reported for months in the Mahama refugee camp, which shelters at least 46,000 Burundian refugees fleeing political violence in Burundi.
The new allegations, sourced from interviews with international officials and confidential transcripts of interviews with targeted refugees, suggest an “aggressive” scale of recruitment, including of minors, and the complicity of Rwandan authorities.
International officials told investigators for Refugees International that recruits have been taken from the camp and sent to Democratic Republic of the Congo and Rwanda’s Nyungwe Forest National Park, in the southwest.
There, “hundreds of Burundian adult and child recruits (including girls) were reportedly housed” and given weapons training, the report said.
According to more than a dozen groups of refugees living in Mahama, recruiters began to approach potential recruits as early as May, telling them they would be fighting on behalf of Burundi’s exiled opposition against President Nkurunziza.
They said they were instructed to attend informational “meetings” in the camp run by one of several Burundian opposition parties, and threatened if they did not acquiesce.
Rwandan police officers were present at some of the meetings, which were held after international aid staff had left Mahama for the day, the report said.
Witnesses also told international aid officials that Rwandan police officers watched as recruits who agreed to join military training boarded shuttles out of Mahama and that Rwandan military vehicles were used in some cases.
Rwandan Ministry for Disaster Management and Refugee Affairs, Seraphine Mukantabana, spoke out against the allegations in a speech during her visit to Mahama in October, accusing the refugees of “telling lies” to make their case for resettlement to another country.
“We cannot accept that your presence creates problems to our country,” she said.
Mukantabana also threatened retribution against international aid workers, who have raised the issue with Rwandan officials, forbidding them from speaking with refugees after hours.