More than 4,000 mass graves uncovered in Burundi

Photo of pinned Bujumbura on a map of Africa. May be used as illustration for traveling theme.

An investigation done by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in Burundi has uncovered more than 4,000 mass graves connected to conflicts since independence in 1962.

According to the commission set up in 2018 to shed light on ethnic tensions, 142,505 victims of mass killings were identified. The report says the killings took place in 1965, 1969, 1972, 1988 and 1993.

Commission chairperson Pierre-Claver Ndayicariye presented the report to the parliament of the landlocked African country.

“Many more mass graves are yet to be found because people who know about them are afraid to talk or are traumatized,” he said.

He insisted that the families of the victims needed to find out the truth of what happened to forgive the perpetrators so as to forge a peaceful future for Burundi’s generations.

A mass grave with up to 270 bodies was opened to the public on Monday in the country’s capital Bujumbura.

It is believed to contain the remains of those killed clashes after the assassination of Melchior Ndadaye, Burundi’s first elected Hutu president in 1993.

This sparked a brutal civil war between the Tutsi-dominated army and the Hutu rebel group which left more than 300,000 people dead in the 12-year war.

Some of the people who visited the graves were able to identify people they knew from the clothes and IDs found.

“People were crying, there was shock,” commission deputy chairperson Noah Clément Ninziza told the BBC.