US Raises Alarm of Possible Human Rights Violations in Burundi

The U.S. State Department says it is “deeply alarmed” by reports out of Burundi of serious human rights violations stemming from a nine-month political crisis.

Spokesman Mark Toner issued a statement Tuesday calling on the Burundian government to “permit an immediate, impartial investigation into these recent allegations and to hold accountable all those found responsible for crimes.”

Numerous reports of gang rapes of women by security forces, torture, extrajudicial killings and reports of mass graves prompted U.N. human rights chief Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein to warn last Friday that “all the alarm signals, including the increasing ethnic dimension of the crisis, are flashing red.”

Toner also called on the government of Burundi “to allow for the immediate full deployment and unimpeded access of African Union human rights observers to investigate these allegations.”

Refused peacekeeper offer

Burundi refused an offer by the AU last month to send 5,000 peacekeepers to Burundi to stop the violence. The government said the AU troops could be attacked if they attempt to come without permission.

The Burundian government has also refused to participate in talks that include the political opposition, which it accuses of “supporting violence.”

Burundi was thrown into crisis last April after President Pierre Nkurunziza announced he would seek a third term in office, a decision that triggered street protests that were met with violence by security forces.

Hundreds of people have died in the violence, while thousands of Burundians have fled their homeland.

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