• Sat. Apr 13th, 2024

Representatives of Protestant churches called to preach unity in their diversity


Mar 28, 2024

BUJUMBURA March 26th (ABP) – The Truth and Reconciliation Commission (CVR) organized on March 25, 2024 in Bujumbura, an exchange session for representatives of Protestant churches who are members and non-members of the National Council of Churches of Burundi (CNEB), to inform them and raise awareness of the results of the investigations carried out from 2018 to 2022 on the crimes that Burundi experienced from the colonial period until the genocide of 1972-1973, so that they can give their contributions .

In his presentation, the vice-president of the TRC, Clément Noé Ninziza indicated that Burundi before colonization was spared ethnic divisions because it was built on clans (the Bashubi, the Bahanza, the Babanda and so on). With the arrival of colonizers who sowed divisions for their interests, the country began to go through difficult times. He specified that since 1885 when the Berlin conference took place, until 1972-1973, there had been many tragic events which plunged Burundi into mourning. He cited the dates of 1903 when the Treaty of Kiganda took place, 1961 when Prince Louis Rwagasore was assassinated, 1966 when the overthrow of the monarchy took place.

Mr. Ninziza insisted on the years 1972-1973, when the genocide against the Bahutu took place and crimes against humanity which were committed against certain Batutsi from the south of the country and certain Batwa from Muramvya province. As consequences, he pointed out, Burundi saw the identity divide reinforced because the murdered people could have developed Burundi. There had also been purges in public services such as in schools, armed administration and elsewhere, the forced exile of survivor populations, trauma and impoverishment of survivors and others. He added that Burundi continued to go through difficult times for the dates of 1988, when there were killings of Ntega-Marangara in 1991 for the attacks of PALIPEHUTU, in 1993 when President Melchior Ndadaye was assassinated, followed by unrest in the country. In 1994-2008, the civil war continued.

After this presentation, a documentary film was shown to show participants the results of the investigations carried out by the CVR since 2018-2022, clearly illustrating the existence of mass graves already found and exhumed by the CVR which are found in all provinces of the country.

                            Representatives of Protestant churches that are members and non-members of the CNEB

The vice-president of the TRC asked the representatives of the Protestant churches who were present to contribute by raising awareness among Christians to avoid divisions, explaining that the latter are contrary to divine will. “We must promote a peaceful life free from all divisions, whether ethnic, religious, political, racial and others. We must live unity in diversity to prevent the recurrence of such events in the future,” he declared.

After discovering the painful past of Burundi through the documentary film, the representatives of the Protestant churches insisted on the conversion of the Burundi, repentance, forgiveness and reconciliation instead of revenge to live unity in their diversity so that the tragic events that devastated Burundi will no longer happen again. They also supported the idea of the TRC which says that it is the truth which serves reconciliation. According to them, it is the truth that will set the Burundians free. They also asked the TRC to continue searching for other mass graves, arguing that there are undoubtedly others that have not yet been found.

Among the questions asked by representatives of Protestant churches are the return of property looted by the State in 1972, the process of rehabilitation of the victims’ families and the construction of monuments in memory of the victims of these tragic events. Reacting to these grievances, Mr. Ninziza said that those who have property plundered by the State in 1972 must present themselves to the TRC to provide proof; the current State will see how to return this property to their owners. Concerning the construction of monuments in memory of the victims and the reparation of the victims’ families, he noted that the State has already thought about this and is preparing for these activities.

Representatives of Protestant churches also called for the drafting of the TRC report in three languages, namely Kirundi, French and English, to facilitate understanding for different readers. The vice president of the TRC promised them that the TRC is ready to do this.