to Communal Violence
Louis Nkezabahizi, Tutsi living in Mutaho Internally Displaced Persons’
Camp in Burundi.
Interviewed by Florence Ntakarutimana, HROC program manager, Burundi.
2012, I was at my job and got a phone call which said, “The Imbonerakure
(name of the youth arm of the predominantly Hutu ruling party) are creating
disorder here at the Tutsi internally displaced persons camp.”
I went home immediately and found terrifying things. The Imbonerakure
had come from Kidasha and Muzenga, two nearby villages, pretending to
do cross-country running. When I arrived at the camp, I found that they
were destroying everything in their way – bananas and harvest
drying in the sun. They had sticks in their hands and sang provocative
songs as they went.
in the camp panicked. The Tutsi youth from the camp decided to reply.
They organized small groups and were making plans to take revenge. The
police shot in the air to calm the situation, but in vain.
to intervene positively as a HROC Healing Companion, but the intensity
of the disorder was beyond the intervention of one person. I found Pastor
Sebastian who is another Tutsi HROC Healing Companion living in the
camp, and we talked to the small groups of youth who were planning revenge.
called Pastor Eraste, a Hutu living in the surrounding community to
ask his advice. Many Hutus were waiting for the response from the Tutsis
and preparing to protect themselves. Although he could not get in the
camp because there was too much tension among the Tutsis, I really appreciated
his helpful advice over the phone.
consultation with the youth, they said that they would no longer take
revenge. Instead, they organized a peaceful protest to show local leaders
that they don’t accept the acts of Imbonerakure. As Tutsis we
worked on the principles of the march with the youth to ensure that
it would not be violent. On the Hutu side, Pastor Eraste and other people
who had participated in HROC prepared Hutus living in the community
not to act against the march as this would only make things worse.
As a result
of the march, the local leaders have decided to control all acts of
the Imbonerakure. It was clear that the people had participated in HROC
did a lot to stop the violence that could have taken many lives in the
IDP camp and in the community. Now I have been chosen to be the leader
of the camp.