Zeid warns over “dead bodies” in Burundi’s streets

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UN Human Rights Commissioner Zeid Ra'ad al-Hussein said dead bodies are “found lying in the streets” every day. UN File Photo/Jean-Marc Ferré

In Burundi, an upsurge in arrests, detention and killings has instilled a "deep sense of fear" among communities that could see a return to the country's so-called "bloody past", the UN's human rights chief said on Monday.

Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein said that his staff had registered 134 killings and 90 cases of torture in the central African country since April, as well as more than 700 arrests since the beginning of September alone.

The warning by UN Human Rights Commissioner Zeid follows violent protests linked to elections in which President Pierre Nkurunziza gained a third term in office.

Daniel Johnson has more.

"Almost every day, dead bodies are found lying in the streets" – that's the scene in parts of the Burundian capital Bujumbura, according to the UN Human Rights office, OHCHR.

In a statement, OHCHR chief Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein says that a succession of unexplained killings – and the belief that they're linked to the state – "is instilling a deep sense of fear within the population".

The UN rights chief adds that this is particularly the case in neighbourhoods of Bujumbura that are known to support opponents of President Pierre Nkurunziza.

His decision to stand for a third presidential term earlier this year coincided with bloody protests between government forces and opponents.

They claimed that he was violating the spirit of the Arusha agreement that ended the country's 10-year civil war.

Since April, UN rights chief Zeid says that his staff have documented more than 130 killings and some 90 cases of torture in Burundi, along with more than 700 arrests since the beginning of September.

Young adults are the main target of the arrests, according to Zeid's statement, with those released saying that they had been accused of intending to join rebel groups based in neighbouring countries.

Daniel Johnson, United Nations, Geneva

Duration: 1’13″



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