Burundi protesters went out of their way Thursday and burned alive a man suspected to belong to President Pierre Nkurunziza private militia, the imbonerakure youth.
Imbonerakure youth have been accused of issuing death threats that have driven 40,000 people from their homes and made them refugees in the neighbouring Rwanda and Congo.
When protests against the President’s third term bid broke out, the torturous group started killing Burundians opposed to the idea.
Yesterday, protesters in Nyakabiga district of the capital Bujumbura captured an imbonerakure member, put tyres around his neck and then burned him.
Red Cross said another woman was killed in another area, taking Thursday’s death toll to two.
The government has regularly dismissed charges that Imbonerakure is fomenting violence.
Presidential spokesman, Gervais Abayeho, condemned the Nyakabiga killing warning that Burundi could descend to a dark past where people would be killed on streets in broad day light.
Nkurunziza is accused of violating the constitution and Arusha peace deal which allows him to stand for only two terms.
He is also accused of arming “hooligans”-the imbonerakure to mistreat nationals who are opposed to his term.
IRIN, an independent, non-profit media organization that covers humanitarian stories across the world paints the real picture of the militia group.
Armed, murderous, militarised, partisan, powerful, unaccountable, uneducated: this is how many in and even outside Burundi describe the Imbonerakure, the youth wing of the ruling party.
Reports are rife that the Imbonerakure have, sometimes in police uniform, attacked protestors with clubs and machetes and even grenades.
Human rights groups have repeatedly raised concerns that the youth wing is doing the ruling party’s dirty work and has become virtually a law unto itself.
Imbonerakure chairman, Denis Karera, painted a different picture of the group.
“We don’t kill, harass or threaten anybody. People are free to support their candidates and this is what we are doing,” he told IRIN.
“Nobody should stop us supporting our president.”
The word Imbonerakure means “those who see far” in the Kurundi language.
The group arose in 2010 out of disarmed fighters from the ruling party’s previous incarnation as a rebel group who never fully demobilised.
Leading Burundian peace activist Jean Claude Nkundwa said years spent fighting in the bush made youths joining Imbonerakure vulnerable to exploitation by politicians.
“Some of them are promised jobs which they will never get because they are not educated anyway,” he told IRIN.
The Imbonerakure has some 50,000 members across the country, according to Pierre-Claver Mbonimpa, Burundi’s most prominent human rights activist, who spent months in custody last year and still faces a charge of endangering state security after publicly stating that the Imbonerakure were receiving military training in the DRC.
In a New York Times Op-Ed written with journalist Jonathan Rosen, Nkundwa warned that the “more radical elements” of the Imbonerakure “appear ready to target civilians en masse.”
The writers called on Burundi’s army to “play a constructive role in disarming the Imbonerakure.”
Reports that army officers have distributed guns to the Imbonerakure have circulated – and been vehemently denied by the government – for at least a year.
In early April 2014, the United Nations mission in Burundi cabled headquarters in New York, citing credible reports that both weapons and uniforms were being distributed.
Earlier this year, Mbonimpa accused the Imbonerakure and the police of committing 37 extra-judicial killings in Cibitoke province following a battle between security forces and an as-yet-unidentified armed group.
In a 2015 report, the Observatory of Government Action, a group of civil society organisations, said the Imbonerakure “want to substitute themselves for the security forces…. They detain people with different political opinions, tie them up, beat them, make them pay fines and so on.