Radio Silence: Burundi’s media targeted in ongoing political crisis
According to observers, the Burundi’s government increases actions against independent media, in order to prevent them to report on the ongoing political crisis. As last attack it demanded the repatriation of seven journalists currently living in exile due to their alleged role in a recent coup attempt.
Clea Kahn-Sriber from Reporters without Borders denounces a clear attack on people “who were just doing their jobs” by covering the recent violence.
Since April and May 2015, in a climate of fear and intimidation, journalists who refuse to align themselves with forces loyal to the president have faced a campaign of censorship, intimidation and physical violence. At least 100 fled to neighboring countries.
The radio – as main way of information for Burundian, particularly in rural areas whith low literacy – was a target of attacks. Eyewitnesses accounts lay the blame with government security agents, despite denials.
Nine months later the stations – Radio-Télé Renaissance, Radio Publique Africaine (RPA), Radio Isanganiro and Bonesha FM – are still off the air, and each of their directors have appeared on the government’s recent extradition list.
Once part of a lively independent media scene heralded as a post-war success, reporters are now considered “enemies” or “munwa muremure” – meaning “big-mouths”. The country has now also been left with just one operational newspaper still reporting through the crisis, as others fold to escape ongoing threats.
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