Bu­rundi used acid and iron bars to tor­ture op­po­si­tion: Amnesty In­ter­na­tional

The China Post - - INTERNATIONAL -

Bu­rundi se­cu­rity forces used iron bars and acid to force con­fes­sions and crush op­po­si­tion dur­ing Bu­rundi Pres­i­dent Pierre Nku­run­z­iza’s suc­cess­ful bid for a third term in of­fice, Amnesty In­ter­na­tional said Mon­day.

Tes­ti­monies recorded by Amnesty in the re­port ac­cuse both the po­lice and Na­tional In­tel­li­gence Ser­vice (SNR) of car­ry­ing out “tor­ture and other ill-treat­ment” since April 2015 against peo­ple sus­pected of par­tic­i­pat­ing in protests against Nku­run­z­iza’s con­tro­ver­sial re­elec­tion bid.

Po­lice beat peo­ple with elec­tric ca­bles and ba­tons, while the SNR used iron bars, as well as “forc­ing de­tainees’ heads un­der dirty wa­ter,” said the re­port, ti­tled “Just tell me what to con­fess to.”

One man ar­rested in the cen­tral African na­tion in June showed Amnesty the marks from his treat­ment, which started with be­ing beaten with iron bars, be­fore he was made to strip naked.

“They took a five-liter con­tainer full of sand and tied it to my tes­ti­cles. They left it on me for more than an hour, I fainted,” one man told Amnesty, in the re­port re­leased in the Kenyan cap­i­tal Nairobi.

“Af­ter I came around, they made me sit in a shal­low pool of bat­tery acid ... it burned ter­ri­bly.”

Burundian jour­nal­ist Es­dras Ndiku­mana, 54, cor­re­spon­dent of Agence France-Presse (AFP) and Ra­dio France In­ter­na­tional (RFI), was him­self sub­jected to se­vere beat­ings by the SNR for around two hours. His tes­ti­mony is also in­cluded in the re­port.

Tor­ture ‘on the rise’

“De­tainees were sub­jected to a pat­tern of hu­man rights vi­o­la­tions: un­law­ful ar­rest and de­ten­tion, tor­ture and other ill­treat­ment, and a lack of ac­cess to lawyers, fam­ily mem­bers and doc­tors,” the re­port said.

None of those in­ter­viewed were given ac­cess to lawyers or their fam­i­lies dur­ing their de­ten­tion, it said, adding that those in­ter­viewed warned that the use of tor­ture “was on the rise” in the coun­try.

Se­cu­rity forces used “an ar­ray of tor­ture tech­niques,” with vic­tims re­port­ing heavy beat­ings “aimed es­pe­cially for peo­ple’s joints, their knees and an­kles.”

Amnesty said it had tried to con­tact the po­lice and SNR, but had re­ceived no re­sponse to the re­port.

Nku­run­z­iza’s third term has been con­demned as un­con­sti­tu­tional by the op­po­si­tion and pro­voked months of protests. There has been a string of killings since his re-elec­tion, in­clud­ing of his top se­cu­rity chief, as­sas­si­nated in an am­bush last month.

Nku­run­z­iza, an ex-rebel turned born-again Chris­tian who be­lieves he is in power by di­vine choice, was sworn into on of­fice last week.

Af­ter tak­ing the oath of of­fice, he warned rebels they would be crushed by God.

“They will be scat­tered like flour thrown into the air — as the God of heaven is a wit­ness, the Bu­run­di­ans will be at peace,” he said.

Oth­ers said they had been threat­ened to make con­fes­sions.

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