Marc Hoogsteyns, a Belgian veteran freelance journalist based in Burundi, has opened up to US President Barrack Obama requesting him ‘to take immediate action against impending Genocide in the central African country.’
In an open letter he posted on his facebook wall, Hoogsteyns-a veteran journalist who covered the 1994 genocide against Tutsi, beats an alarm drum and reminds President Obama that what is happening in Burundi is completely similar to the genocide in that happened in Rwanda.
In a 2000+ word letter, Hoogsteyns tells Obama the truth behind the scenes. He expresses his worry over hundreds of Burundians that have been killed in the eyes of government and their bodies lying on streets of Bujumbura, while thousands have been forced to flee their country.
Hoogsteyns tells President Obama of the danger behind infamous Imbonerakure militia men. “As you also know more than 200,000 Burundians fled the country because they were threatened by the infamous Imbonerakure militia of the government.
That militia is now controlling the countryside and some parts of Bujumbura and terrorizing the population.”
The journalist tells US President that: “It is a nearly proven fact that some of these militia members are Rwandan Interahamwe’s and these guys were responsible for most of the killings during the Rwandan genocide in 1994.”
While Burundi government accuses Rwanda of aiding formation of a rebel group to overthrow Burundi government, Hoogsteyns tells President Obama that instead, Burundi is being ruled by the same ideology that caused the genocide in Rwanda in ’94, and its leaders are throwing stones on the Rwandan side to see its reaction.
“They are luring the Rwandan President Kagame into a fight and they’ll use this to protect themselves,” says Hoogsteyns.
Hoogsteyns cites to President Obama cases of several Rwandan Tutsi’s arrested and even killed in recent months.
Hoogsteyns tells President Obama that Burundi government is trying to ethnicise the problems again. For Hoogsteyns, “This is not only dangerous but this can also be mortal. Very mortal!”
The veteran journalist reminds US President to never wait for reports from international NGOs and media, which he says delays and sometimes provide vague reports contrary to what is happening on ground.
Giving an example of President Obama’s own envoy, Hoogsteyns says: “It is my understanding, Sir that this must stop! A couple of days ago I attended a press conference in the American embassy in Bujumbura where Tom Periello, your Special Envoy of the African Great Lakes Region, expressed his concern about the current situation in this country. I have to admit that I was very disappointed with what I heard there.
To start with he told us that the previous weekend had been calm and that he talked to the Burundian authorities who guaranteed him that they were in control of the situation,” says Hoogsteyns.
However, Hoogsteyns also wonders and asks President Obama a couple of questions: “Was Perriello not aware that those 7 innocent people were butchered in that bar? Did he not see the pictures of the bodies lying in the streets of Musaga, another suburb of Bujumbura? Was he not aware that as he was speaking the police was looting and searching the houses of hundreds of innocent people in Mutakura and in Ngagara? He must have been…. And he even admitted that he had not been able to meet President Nkurunziza, to discuss the ongoing problems.” Asked the journalist.
Hoogsteyns tells President Obama that after being disappointed, “I asked Perriello if the US could not take a more active stand on the events here but the answer he gave me did not convince me at all: he said that the problem was in the hands of the Burundians themselves and that the government and the opposition should talk to each other. That might be correct but this is what Burundians have been hearing already for six months now, and the situation is still deteriorating.”
World doesn’t care as Burundians die everyday
Hoogsteyns says in a letter to President Obama that Perriello’s stand on Burundi issues is closely similar to thoughts and facts being given to most of the foreign diplomats who are still operational in the capital Bujumbura.
To Hoogsteyns, the situation in Burundi is “a mixture of racism, tribal nonsense and religious superstiscion that controls the brains of the little clique that is pushing this country into the abys-similar to the same ideology that caused over 1million dead during the genocide in Rwanda.
“I’ve seen this before in ’94, in Rwanda. I even talked on many occasions to these people and I tried to find a certain logic in their behavior. I do not call myself an intellectual and I’m not a psychiatrists but I saw them killing people in the past,” Hoogsteyns tells President Obama.
He called Obama to stop with immediate effect the killings in Burundi, expressing a serious concern over UN’s ‘slow pace’ in dealing with the issue.
Instead, Hoogsteyns tells President Obama that the last decision of the UN Security Council was perceived as being very positive for the government in charge because “they did not include any sanctions. They saw this as a victory.”
Hoogsteyns calls for Obama to immediately deal with Burundi government leaders, since UN has cleared them with immunity. “They are also immune to what you told them in your speech. These people are all former genocidaires who have the blood on their hands of hundreds and even thousand innocent Burundians.”
While Burundians continue to suffer bullets and looting in the eyes of international community, Hoogsteyns tells Obama that leaders in Burundi continue be immune to sanctions and international condemnations “as long as their privileged status in their own country is not touched and as long that they can continue to beef up their own bank accounts with the money they make through corruption.”
As the world keeps a deaf ear on Burundi issues, the veteran journalist tells President Obama that, Burundi has always been a side show-just like Rwanda in ’94 and Cambodia in the 70ties and in the 80ties.
He however reminds President Obama personally digest and investigate a recent concern by Belgian politician Louis Michel that another genocide might be in the making in Burundi-citing declarations of the Burundian President of the Senate who recently told his followers that they should prepare themselves ‘to go to work’-a slogan used by genocidaires to kill during the 1994 genocide against Tutsi in Rwanda.
Media ignoring Burundi
For Hoogsteyns, even convention media has abandoned Burundi, and President Obama should launch through investigations to discover what exactly is going on.
For instance, Hoogsteyns says, “When I contact newsrooms in Europe and in the US the editors always tell me that the Burundian issue is not interesting and a desk editor in Europe even told me that Burundi is always the same shit and that there are not enough bodies lying in the streets yet to commission our work here”.
While all this happens in Burundi, Hoogsteyns reminds President Obama of the 1994 era, when same media concentrated on covering Arusha agreements in Tanzania, which gave genocidal regime in Rwanda to prepare extra well for the genocide they were going to start on the 6th of April 1994.