Posted On 2015-12-10 In Covenant solidarity

“Pray for Burundi”

BURUNDI, Chiara Santomiero/Aleteia Team

“During the night, the police arrived arresting people, and the next day it was known that they were dead. We found cadavers in the streets. There is now total insecurity.” This is told to Aleteia by a source from the Church in Bujumbura, the capital of Burundi. The person asks for anonymity for security reasons. They also took some Salesian religious, but fortunately, they were freed the next day.

“Fear overcomes everyone – continues the source – thousands of persons have gone to other parts of the country. Hundreds of thousands of persons crossed the border into Ruanda, Uganda, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Tanzania and also into Europe.”

Due to the events in Paris, the attention on the drama in Burundi has disappeared in the communication media. Since last April, in the African country, the clashes caused first by the election have intensified, and secondly due to the reelection of President Pierre Nkurunziza for a third mandate. This is in violation of the constitution and the Arusha agreements for peace which in 2000 had marked the end to the civil war and began a complicated system of shared power.

Approximately 200 persons were assassinated by the government security forces during the repression of the protests, and it is calculated that more than 200,000 Burundis have abandoned the country. Inclusively this morning, according to Agency Fides, there was fighting in several areas of the capital.

A call to dialogue

On November 12th, the ONU Security Council approved a resolution which allows a margin of 15 days to Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and his envoy in Burundi, Jamal Benomar, to express an opinion on the possibility of sending to the African country a political and military power under the backing of the ONU. For a decision in this sense, necessary is, once the time-frame has expired, a new resolution or an authorization – difficult to imagine – on behalf of the government of the controversial President Nikurunziza.

On November 12th, there was jointly called to dialogue an invitation to the parties to meet to hold back the violence and to find a political solution to the crisis. This came from Secretary General of the ONU, Jan Eliasson, President of the Commission of the African Union, Nikosazana Diamini Zuma, and the top representative for the Political Exterior and Common Security of the European Union, Federica Mogherini.

“The Commission for the existing Inter-Burundi Dialogue – the source from Bujumbura explains to Aleteia – does not include all political groups and as such is not effective.” On the other hand, necessary is the “dialogue among all the parties, including those who have taken up arms for the good of the country.”

Poverty threatens the population

The Burundi Church, having pronounced herself against the reelection of Nikununziza, had petitioned – unsuccessfully – to open dialogue with the opposition in a communication published at the end of the Plenary Assembly last September.

On the same occasion, petitioned also was “the state’s respect for the right and the guarantee of the persons’ rights,” condemning “criminal acts which are recorded daily, in particular in the capital Bujumbura where every evening homicides occur and where various persons do not sleep in their homes for fear of being sequestered or assassinated.

In some neighborhoods, the communication reports, the inhabitants are under home-arrest and upon not being able to leave their homes for going to work or buy food, they are at risk of dying of hunger.” “Poverty threatens the population – wrote the bishops – and this increases the drama we are experiencing, from the moment that some members of the international community seem to have ceased their aid to Burundi” (Agency Fides, September 24, 2015).

Praying a novena

The battles continue in Bujumbura near the seminary in the capital city. According to testimonies collected, members of the police are accompanied by militant youths armed with knives they pillage the homes of those who are suspected of belonging to the opposition. The latest confrontations exploded in the evening of November 17th when some police stations were attacked in various districts in the center of Bujumbura.

Pope Francis who will visit Kenya, Uganda and the Central African Republic at the end of November, on May 17, 2015 asked for prayers for the “dear people of Burundi” and invited everyone to “abandon the violence and to act responsibly for the good of the country.” From the 14th to the 22nd of November, the Catholic Church of Burundi launched a novena for peace in Burundi and in other countries of Central Africa: prayer and the will for peace are the “arms” placed on the table for national reconciliation. “Prayer – concludes the Aleteia source – gives us the strength to hope against all hope.”

Source: Aleteia

There are two Shrines and hundreds of Home Shrines in Burundi and the Pilgrim Virgin travels the streets and paths of the country. During the last years, the Schoenstatt Movement assumed an active role in the process for peace. Let us pray in covenant solidarity for our Schoenstatt Family in Burundi, for its projects for peace and for all those seeking peace.

Original: Spanish. Translation: Carlos Cantú, Schoenstatt Family Federation, La Feria, Texas USA 12072015

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