On 5 April a disturbing video surfaced of the Imbonerakure, the paramilitary youth wing of Burundi’s ruling party, the Conseil National Pour la Défense de la Démocratie–Forces pour la Défense de la Démocratie (CNDD-FDD). The video, of an Imbonerakure
gathering in Ntega, Kirundo province, shows rows of young men singing lyrics threatening to “impregnate the opposition so that they give birth to Imbonerakure.”
The UN has previously documented Imbonerakure
perpetrating rape and other forms of sexual violence against female supporters of opposition parties, as well as women and girls attempting to flee the country. Despite initially denouncing the video as fake, the CNDD-FDD eventually verified the video’s authenticity, but declared the song to be inconsistent “with the morals or ideology” of the ruling party.
The emergence of the video comes amidst a new wave of extrajudicial killings, enforced disappearances and the torture of opposition members in Burundi. The
Imbonerakure, who often work in collaboration with the intelligence services and the national police, have previously been deployed to intimidate and terrorize sections of the civilian population presumed to be supporting the opposition.
The CNDD-FDD should immediately disband the Imbonerakure. The government should collaborate with the UN, African Union and other international partners to help end the political conflict in Burundi. All allegations of serious human rights violations in Burundi, including sexual violence and rape, should be subject to independent investigation and the perpetrators held accountable.