Today is Human Rights Day, commemorating the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948. The day provides a chance to recall the aspiration to a universal human dignity set out in this document, to face up to contexts where this aspiration is being torn apart and, more than just to feel outrage, to take action.
As a child Benjamin lost his family in the Burundian civil war. He grew up with anger and hatred, and at 12 years old joined a rebellion as a child soldier. At the beginning of this year, Benjamin attended a local campaign promoting tolerance and reconciliation. He sat in a room with those he called enemies, something he never thought possible. Now Benjamin wants to work to make Burundi a peaceful country, with opportunities for young people to thrive.
A crisis lasting more than one year in Burundi has seen violence and alarming human right violations across the country. Some estimate that over 800 people have been killed, and more than a quarter of a million have fled the country. In a conflict that has torn communities apart and destroyed social relations, building trust among young people is crucial for Burundi’s future.
Burundi’s people have shown before their resilience and ability to recover after the most tragic periods of violence, and the country can still pull back from the current crisis. If it does, it will be down to the work of brave Burundians who find ways to continue to work for peace in the most difficult of circumstances.
In a surprise inauguration held this morning, Burundi President Pierre Nkurunziza has announced that he will take office for a third term. This follows last month’s disputed elections, which were boycotted by the opposition and sparked widespread unrest. Nkurunziza took the “oath for a new term of five years”, the presidency said in a statement. … Continued
Burundi has been gripped by outbreaks of violent protest since late April this year in the run up to the elections. Peace Direct’s Local Correspondent, who is writing anonymously for reasons of security, has been sharing updates on current events. Insight on Conflict will be publishing short updates based on these reports over the coming months.