Update: President Nkurunziza bows to pressure, releases #Burundi3
The president Pierre Nkurunziza’s government has released three school girls who were arrested and detained two weeks ago.
According to the Human Rights Watch, the three female students were arrested and detained for allegedly doodling on the photo of President Pierre Nkurunziza in their school books.
Read More: BURUNDI: Doodling on president’s picture, three school girls risk five years imprisonment
The Burundian government had described the allegation as “insulting the head of state”.
However, the arrest of Belyse, Eliane and Micheline generated a wide social media campaigns, as Twitter users throughout the globe called for an end to president Nkurunziza’s detention against the three school girls, and their immediate release.
Tweeps, including a popular multi award-winning Nigerian actress, Stella Damasus, used the hashtag #Burundi3 to vent their outrages against the detention and expressed their solidarity for the girls.
Via her verified Twitter handle, Stella Damasus described the detention as “madness” and called on the public to speak out against it:
“Everyone has to speak out against this madness. Free the #Burundi3.” she tweeted.
“@UNICEFEducation @UN what is going on with the #Burundi3 we need to know what the plans are? When will the girls be released and what’s the penalty for the president? There has to be something.” she added.
Insult him jare !
“Let him come and put all of us in Afrika into #Burundi3 jail
They will not build the country they will be doing nonsense in power
Baba nla shit”
“What is happening in #Burundi is dictatorship taken to an absurd level. Children are to be protected & cared for, not jailed. Hands off #Burundi3. For a movement of workers, youth & masses to defend democratic & socio-economic rights in #Burundi & end dictatorship & capitalism”
Meanwhile, in a similar trend, with the hashtag #FreeOurGirls, people posted more doodled pictures of president Nkurunziza on Twitter:
The #Burundi3 were arrested at the ECOFO school which is located in the northern Burundi region, Kirundo, and were detained in the women’s prison in Ngozi, Burundi.
They are aged 15, 16 and 17 years.
According to a statement issued by the Human Rights Watch, March 19, 2019, and titled “Jailed in Burundi for Scribbles on President’s Photo”, HRW’s Director for Central Africa, Mr Lewis Mudge, said:
“This is not the first time school administrators and authorities have cracked down on children’s doodling. In 2016, Burundian intelligence agents arrested eight secondary school students and also accused them of insulting the head of state for drawing and writing phrases like “Get out” or “No to the 3rd term” on a picture of Nkurunziza in a textbook. The same year, hundreds of children were expelled from several schools for scribbling on the president’s face in textbooks.”
Investigation reveals that President Pierre Nkurunziza has an alarming record of violating the human rights of the Burundian people and using all means to silence opposition. Since he secured his controversial third term, politically motivated violence, mass killings have taken over Burundi. Under his iron grip, about 1,200 people have died and hundreds of thousands have fled Burundi. The release of the #Burundi3 may be a prank to calm the social media outrage, as it is not certain if president Nkurunziza will not revisit the charges against the three school girls.
On 11 May 2018, 26 people, many of whom were children, were gruesomely killed in rural northwest Burundi. He also suspended international broadcasters, and international reporters were denied visas to cover his third referendum activities.
Presenting its final report on the situation in Burundi to the U.N. Human Rights Council in Geneva, a United Nations’ Commission says violations — which include extrajudicial killings, enforced disappearances, arbitrary arrests, torture, and sexual violence — are used by the Nkurunziza government and its allies to bend the Burundian people to its will.