NGO alert: Burundi human rights campaigner hospitalised by shooting

The shooting of human rights campaigner and NGO founder Pierre Claver Mbonimpa in Burundi is part of growing violence that must stop says UN chief

Where: Burundi

What happened? Leading human rights activist and outspoken government critic Pierre Claver Mbonimpa was yesterday shot and seriously wounded by gunmen on motorcycles according to his friends and family.

Who is Mbonimpa? A former civil servant and police officer, Mbonimpa founded the Association for the Protection of Human Rights and Incarcerated Persons (APRODH) in 2001 and is a highly vocal critic of the government. He has been in and out of prison, most recently in May when he was charged with endangering internal and external security after making critical comments on the radio.

What is the current situation in Burundi? The recent turbulent Burundi elections which saw Pierre Nkurunziza go on to claim a controversial third term as president have been followed by what international commentators are describing as a “dangerous escalation in violence”. Mbonimpa’s shooting follows the assassination of General Adolphe Nshimirimana, a close aide to the president.

The attack on Mbonimpa has been described by the UN secretary general, Ban Ki-moon, as an “assassination attempt”; the UN chief called for the perpetrators to be brought to justice. “This incident … is part of a growing pattern of politically motivated violence in Burundi that must be broken before it escalates beyond control,” Ban’s spokesperson said. The International Crisis Group (ICG) thinktank has said that the attacks represent a dangerous escalation in violence pushing Burundi to the brink of war. “There is a qualitative change in the violence,” said the ICG’s Thierry Vircoulon.

Operating in Burundi: The Foreign Office currently advises against all but essential travel to most of Burundi. The US state department advises against all travel to Burundi. Freedom House assesses Burundi as “Not free”. Reporters Without Borders have regularly highlighted attacks and restrictions on both national and international journalists.

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Bibi van der Zee

The GuardianTramp

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