Monday, May 02, 2016

RUNNING SCARED - Assassins in Kenya

"Why assassins are hunting these Burundian refugees in Kenya" PBS NewsHour 4/26/2016


SUMMARY:  One year ago, Burundi's president announced he was running for a third term, which triggered a failed coup, protests and a violent crackdown.  Hundreds died and at least 220,000 have left the country.  Special correspondent Nick Schifrin reports from Nairobi, where some Burundian refugees from the opposition have fled for safety, but instead are being hunted down by men sent by the government.

JUDY WOODRUFF (NewsHour):  It has been one year since Burundi's president, Pierre Nkurunziza, announced he was running for a third term, a move widely considered unconstitutional.  His announcement triggered a failed coup, a questioned election, mass protests, and a violent crackdown on the opposition.

Since then, at least 400 people have been killed and 3,500 arrested.  More than 220,000 people fled the country.  Divisions between Hutu and Tutsi ethnic groups have characterized past violence in Burundi, but, on Sunday, Marguerite Barankitse was honored for her work helping Burundian orphans and refugees, regardless of ethnicity.  She received a million dollars from an Armenian group.  The money will be donated to the organization of her choice.

Still, ethnic identity can be a matter of life or death for Burundians, even those outside the country.

Special correspondent Nick Schifrin, partnering with the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting, found Burundian refugees 900 miles from home, in Nairobi, Kenya, where they thought they'd be safe.  But their enemies have tracked them down.

NICK SCHIFRIN (NewsHour):  It's just past midnight.  We're in Nairobi, Kenya, and this isn't only a cornfield.  This is a kind of protection because, right behind me, there's a house full of men, and all night, every night, two of them are in the field standing guard, using old weapons like a crowbar and a rusty knife.

They are too scared to sleep, and too scared to show their faces.  They are Burundian refugees who say they're being hunted.

The men who are guarding the house, can they really defend you from the people who are hunting you?

MAN (through interpreter):  The weapons you see here can only be used against the dogs you hear barking.  If there were an enemy coming here with a grenade or a machine gun, we wouldn't be able to resist.

NICK SCHIFRIN:  Twenty-year-old Arnold is a Burundian refugee.  He lives in this tin shack with seven other refugees.  It's a 150-square-foot church library.

MAN (through interpreter):  We have no mattresses, no food.  As refugees, we can't find jobs, and we are scared of being arrested and sent back from where we were.

NICK SCHIFRIN:  Where they were was Burundi's capital, Bujumbura.  A systematic campaign targeted the government's political opponents, leaving some of their bodies in the street.

The U.N. warns that President Nkurunziza is helping lead the country to a second civil war by transforming politics into ethnic conflict between Hutus and Tutsis.  That's the same ethnic divide in Rwanda that sparked the 1994 genocide.

In the last year, 225,000 Burundians have fled the violence to cities they hoped were safe.  But, even here, they hide their faces.

Today, here in Nairobi, which of you is afraid?

All of these men escaped from Burundi.  Kenyan activist Tom Oketch brought them together to discuss their rights and try to calm their fears.

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