The FIDH is calling for a ceasefire

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The International Federation of Human Rights (FIDH) is deeply concerned by the worsening conflict, marked these last hours by the blind dropping of bombs by rebels from the National Liberation Forces (FNL), in Bujumbura.

Since 7 July 2003, rebel forces have been dropping bombs on neighborhoods inhabited and frequented by civilians, targeting in particular the central market square and bringing about the death of several dozens of people. According to our information, civilians may have been kidnapped and an estimated total of more than 5,000 civilians have been displaced, having fled neighborhoods south of the capital following rebel occupation of the area. The displaced have allegedly received none of the appropriate assistance.

The FIDH condemns, in the gravest of tones, the flagrant violations of international humanitarian law and human rights to which these civilians have fallen victim.

The FIDH is even more concerned by the fact that these developments are taking place less than three months after last year’s political transition (30 April 2002), during which the Hutu President, Domitien Ndayizeye, succeeded the Tutsi President, Pierre Buyoya, upon leaving office.

The FIDH condemns with the utmost resolve this violation of the "permanent" ceasefire accord, signed 3 December 2002 between the government and all rebel movements, and is urging all parties involved in the conflict to pursue the path of political dialogue. Furthermore, the FIDH would like to remind these parties of the declaration set forth by the European Union just before the transition came to a close in which it called on "all Burundi parties to respect the rights and aspirations of the people as well as adhere to the logic contained in the ceasefire accords."

The FIDH is insistently calling upon all concerned parties to bring about an immediate ceasefire and urging the regular armed forces to not give in to the temptation to resort to military or arbitrary revenge. Moreover, it is calling on them to:

- Respect international humanitarian law and protect civilians at all costs;
- Bring to light these flagrant violations of humanitarian law and impose the appropriate sanctions on the perpetrators of these acts of violence, in accordance with the international clauses related to human rights.

The FIDH is calling upon the international community and particularly the European Union to:

- Condemn in the gravest of tones these flagrant violations of international humanitarian law;
- Exert pressure on all present parties so that political dialogue will be preserved as the only acceptable means of settling disputes.

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