The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) has today joined its affiliate, Union Burudaise des Journalistes, in condemning the outrageous killing of a cameraman and his family on 13 October amid tensions following the re-election of President Pierre Nkurunziza. The cameraman becomes the first media professional killed in the African country this year.
According to media reports, RTNB cameraman Christophe Nkezabahizi, his wife and two of their children - a 16-year-old girl and a 14-year-old boy- were shot dead by security forces last Tuesday 13 October at close range in their home in the capital, Bujumbura. The union said that the cameraman was targeted for being a media worker.
"We strongly condemn the execution of our colleague Christophe Nkezabahizi and his family by those who were supposed to protect him," said the Burundian union's President, Alexandre Niyungeko. "It's a shame for the Burundian security forces. We call for justice to our colleague and all those who are being killed by the agents of Pierre Nkurunziza."
The IFJ backed its Burundian affiliate and colleagues in these difficult moments.
"We stand up by our union in Burundi and send our sincere condolences following this outrageous killing," said IFJ President, Jim Boumelha. "We call on the authorities to investigate this murder immediately and to ensure that those responsible are found and brought to justice in a fair trial. Once again, the IFJ is urging for press freedom and safety of media workers to be fully respected and ensured in Burundi."
The Burundian union also raised its concerns about the safety of another colleague, Egide Mwemero, who was recently detained in Goma, Eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo, with other two Congolese colleagues working for the radio station 'Messager du peuple'. "Mwemero has not committed any crime, so he must be released. We fear that if he is sent back to Burundi, he will be a dead person," added Niyungeko.
Burundi has been gripped by unrest since the President Pierre Nkurunziza announced he was running for a third term, which the opposition, civil society and even sections of his own party said violated the constitution. The crisis has intensified since Nkurunziza's re-election in July, with assassinations targeting figures on both sides of the divide, attacks against the police and summary executions. Independent media organisations were also targeted, especially ahead the elections period. Many were closed down and scores of their journalists fled the country or went into hiding.
The IFJ has been strongly advocating for press freedom in Burundi. In April, the Federation called for the protection of journalists during a press conference at the Press Club of Brussels, in which the IFJ denounced, together with other media organisations, the continued attacks and threats to independent media. The union's President, Alexandre Niyungeko, sent a video message to the conference, explaining the struggling of press freedom and journalists in Burundi at the beginning of the political crisis in Burundi which followed the announcement of President Nkurunziza's run for a third term. In August, the IFJ was among several organisations calling on authorities in Burundi to investigate all the attacks on journalists.
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