IFJ backs the mobilization to free a jailed journalist in Burundi

The International Federation of

Journalists (IFJ) today has backed the mobilisation in support of the liberation

of jailed RFI Swahili journalist, Hassan Ruyakuki who was arrested by security

forces on November 28, 2011, and subsequently convicted by the Appeal court in

Gitega to three years imprisonment following an interview with the leader of

the opposition to President Pierre Nkurunziza.

Ruvakuki was convicted by the Appeal

court of Gitega (centre) which found him guilty on 8 January of “participation

in an organization formed to attack people and their properties” and to serve

three years imprisonment.

The Burundi Union of Journalists

(UBJ in French), an IFJ affiliate, organized a protest march on Tuesday

February 26, in Bujumbura in support of Ruvakiki, despite the ban from the

mayor and a heavily armed security forces around the Court which was the final

destination. 

 “We encourage journalists in Burundi to

increase the mobilization to free their colleague and call once more on the international

community to join forces in this noble struggle for freedom and human rights”

said Gabriel Baglo, IFJ Africa Director. “We called on authorities in Burundi

to stop human rights violations by preventing journalists to demonstrate

peacefully”. 

Journalists in Burundi have recently

decided to protest peacefully every Tuesday until Ruvakuki is free.  Security forces had violently repressed last

week’s protest. This week protesters started the demonstration before they were

stopped by security forces. “We have hopefully started our protest and will

keep it up in solidarity until they free Hassan,” said   Alexandre Niyungeko, UBJ President. 

The IFJ joins its affiliate UBJ to vigorously

denounce the brutal police attack against journalists, and calls on authorities

to stop bad practices against peaceful protesters.

 “The Ministry for Justice has announced that Hassan

Ruvakuki will not be granted full parole as he has already served quite a

quarter of his sentence. We understand now this is harassment against our

colleague. We believe that the trial is political as the real motive was just

an interview of an opponent,” said Alexandre Niyungeko, UBJ President.

For more information, please contact

IFJ:  +221 33 867 95 86

 The IFJ represents over 600.000 journalists in

134 countries