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Burundi: Death threats and intimidation against members of OLUCOME
Members of the Observatoire de lutte contre la corruption et les malversations économiques – OLUCOME (Observatory for the Fight Against Corruption and Economic Embezzlement) continue to receive death threats and are subject to acts of intimidation.
Ms Yvette Kanyamuneza, wife of OLUCOME President Mr Gabriel Rufyiri, and Mr Claver Irambona, OLUCOME staff member, received anonymous intimidatory calls and death threats on 1 and 2 November 2010.
Furthermore, Yvette Kanyamuneza was verbally abused on a bus on 23 October 2010, and unknown persons visited the office of OLUCOME on 24 October 2010 and intimidated Claver Irambona.
On 1 November 2010, Ms Kanyamuneza received three missed calls at short intervals, both in the morning, and again at 2pm. When she returned the calls, she was threatened by the person on the other end of the line who insulted her and demanded to know where she got the number, asking if she knew who he was, and threatening that he would show her.
Yvette Kanyamuneza has previously received similar anonymous calls.
On the same day, Claver Irambona also received successive calls. Each time he picked up, the caller was silent but remained on the line. Claver Irambona sent a text message to the same number saying that the following day he would try to identify the caller.
The following day he received a text message at 1:25pm in which the sender said he had waited in vain for Mr Irambona and asked if he was able to find him. He insulted him and threatened to shoot him in the head.
A week earlier, on 23 October 2010, Yvette Kanyamuneza was verbally abused while on a bus. She was traveling from her home to the local town when a man began telling her that there are people who often insult the President of the Republic on radio.
He made references to her husband and said “we'll show you”. The following day, the same man entered the office of OLUCOME, where Claver Irambona and Mr Prudence Bararunyetse, Vice-President of the organisation, were working.
The man demanded to know where the President of OLUCOME was, accusing him of being corrupt. He made references to calls for justice for the killing of former Vice-President of OLUCOME, Mr Ernest Manirumva, on 8 April 2009, and suggested that the OLUCOME President and his wife were involved in the killing.
A formal complaint about the above incidents, which includes the identified phone numbers, has been filed by OLUCOME with the local judicial and political authorities.
In recent years, the President of OLUCOME Gabriel Rufyiri and his colleagues have been systematically harassed and threatened. In addition to the events mentioned above, other human rights defenders have recently become victims of intimidation.
On 20 October 2010, Mr Pierre Claver, President of the Association pour la protection des droits de l'Homme et des personnes détenues – APRODH (Association for the Protection of Human Rights and Detained Persons), was threatened during a meeting with the Minister of Interior, who reportedly mentioned the possibility of revoking APRODH registration and replacing its President with the Ministry of Interior.
In a similar incident, the Forum pour le renforcement de la société civile - FORSC (Forum for the Strengthening of Civil Society) had its registration revoked by the Ministry of Interior in November 2009.