United Nations: UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon voiced alarm Friday over the violence in Burundi after a leading rights activist’s son was found dead, and said the killings “must stop.”
The discovery of bodies of Burundians, “many apparently summarily executed,” has become a “regular occurrence” in Bujumbura, Ban said in a statement.
“The recurring violence and killings in Burundi must stop,” he said.
Welly Nzitonda, the son of human rights defender Pierre-Claver Mbonimpa, was found dead on Friday a few hours after his arrest in the capital. He was the second member of Mbonimpa’s family to have been killed.
UN Human Rights Commissioner Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein separately said that “this assassination reinforces fears that there is a systematic policy of targeting members of the opposition, journalists, human rights defenders and ordinary citizens perceived to be opposing the government.”
Burundi has been engulfed in violence triggered by President Pierre Nkurunziza’s successful bid to win a third term in office, with bodies found dumped in the streets on a nearly daily basis.
Ban renewed calls for a dialogue between the government and the opposition to end the bloodshed and condemned statements by all sides inciting violence and hatred.
The UN Security Council is due to hold a special meeting Monday, at France’s request, to discuss the escalating violence and the wave of hate speech.
International alarm has grown over a five-day deadline that expires on Friday for Burundians to hand over weapons.
“France condemns hate speech, as its impact on communities is unacceptable,” a French foreign ministry spokesman said earlier.
“We call on all Burundian stakeholders, the government and the opposition, to demonstrate restraint and to engage in political dialogue which is the only way to overcome the current crisis.”
US Ambassador Samantha Power yesterday expressed “extreme concern the five-day ultimatum issued by the president will trigger violence beginning this coming weekend.”
The International Crisis Group (ICG) warned in a report this week of the “possibility of mass atrocities and civil war in Burundi,” which was wracked by 13 years of conflict until a peace deal in 2006.
At least 200 people have died in the latest turmoil and 200,000 have fled the country.