BUJUMBURA August 6th (ABP) – The chairman of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC), Mr. Pierre Claver Ndayicariye, held a news conference on Thursday August 5, 2021 to make public the current state of inquiries and investigations into the violations rights and the mass graves of the 1972 crisis in the Bujumbura City Council and its surroundings.
Mr. Ndayicariye specified that more than 50 people with an age varying between 60 and 85 years were interviewed and spoke to the TRC about how they lived the crisis of 1972 in Bujumbura. Those testimonies revealed that the institutions, the army, the administration, the security, the UPRONA party, the JRR… were directly involved in the arrests and killings which targeted part of the people, that is, the Bahutu having studied or having a well-off standard of living. According to Mr. Ndayicariye, mass graves were dug in Buterere by machinery from the Ministry of Public Works. Systematic looting was carried out in State houses where widows and orphans were expelled to finally lead a life of hardship.
He also indicated that there are Batutsi who tried to intervene on behalf of the innocent and who were killed by their colleagues. In Buyenzi, several Bahutu had to change their nationality saying they are Zairians in order to escape the roundups. The soldiers said they were looking for insurgents Mayi Mulele who had come to help the Bahutu to wage war in Burundi and Michel Micombero, president of that period, asked his Zairian counterpart Mobutu for military reinforcement and they found that these were massacres organized on an ethnic basis.
Arrests were made either at home, in the service or at roadblocks. He added that during the arrests at the barriers, the victims were stripped naked and publicly humiliated by saying that they searched their bodies for scarification (Indásāgo).
Among the testimonies received by the TRC, he cited a lady who was released from the jail after having given a ransom equivalent to 80,000 francs. Mr. Ndayicariye also pointed out that in Bujumbura City Council even the archives speak. They provide information on the names of people arrested in May 1972, vehicles and houses seized, bank accounts seized, people sentenced to death by the 1972 council of war, and so on.
In the Ministry of National Education, officials and teachers killed have been dismissed on charges of prosecution, resignation or desertion after having been killed.
Regarding the mass graves already identified in Bujumbura City Council, he pointed out those located in the Buterere quarter, unit 4 called Kubumwe where three mass graves were verified and another confirmed. Witnesses revealed to the TRC that the victims were from Bubanza and Bujumbura provinces.
The TRC also has information that at the Saint Augustin parish of Buyenzi there is a large mass grave which was filled in by a retired driver. Bulldozer machines dug mass graves in Buyenzi and Buterere during the day to accommodate the bodies of the victims at night. The assembly and killing points were the base camp of Musaga, Camp Buyenzi and Camp Ngagara. The cars looted from the Bahutu victims were gathered in the base camp of Musaga, according to testimonies received by the TRC. The TRC Chair thanked those who testified and invites others to shed light on the truth of our country’s painful past.
It is worth recalling that the same operations were carried out by the TRC in the provinces of Gitega, Karusi, Makamba, Rumonge, Bururi, Kirundo and Muyinga.