2nd Session, 41st Parliament,

Volume 149, Issue 159

Thursday, June 25, 2015

The Honourable Leo Housakos, Speaker

Burundi

Hon. Mobina S. B. Jaffer: Honourable senators, I am speaking today to give you an update on the situation in Burundi.

Since President Nkurunziza announced he was running for a third term, in contravention of the constitution of Burundi and the Arusha Accords for peace and reconciliation in Burundi, that country has been plunged into a serious crisis that is jeopardizing the survival and security of the Burundian population and the surrounding region.

The longer the current political conflict goes on, the more fear and rancour will grow and the more risk there will be of ethnic conflicts.

Unfortunately, that reality is part of the radicalization logic of the government, which is playing that card.

Since President Nkurunziza’s announcement, over 115,000 people have fled the country and over 77 people have been killed by the police and auxiliary militia during peaceful demonstrations.

Recently, the Burundian police used excessive force against people who were protesting President Nkurunziza’s decision to run for a third term.

The police fired indiscriminately into the crowd and beat protestors and detainees.

Unfortunately, over 500 protestors and opponents were imprisoned and tortured, and media outlets were burned down and closed.

Daniel Bekele, the Executive Director of the Africa Division of Human Rights Watch, said that the police should not use such violent tactics to suppress the protests, nor should they fire into crowds of demonstrators. Furthermore, many international organizations are worried that these sorts of actions will lead to chaos in Burundi.

People are fleeing the country because they fear for their lives, and despite the fact that the Government of Canada has asked all Canadians to leave Burundi, Canada is unfortunately continuing to deport Burundians on Canadian soil who pose no threat whatsoever.

Honourable senators, this practice is contrary to the Canadian values of protecting human rights and helping those in danger.

Tomorrow, I will have the opportunity to participate in a panel discussion in Vancouver on the human rights violations and election violence occurring in Burundi, with a view to finding solutions and helping Burundians.

For these reasons, I am calling on the Government of Canada to suspend the deportation of Burundians on Canadian soil.

Thank you.

 

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