Target: Pierre Nkurunziza President of Burundi
Goal: Release human rights activist who has been imprisoned unfairly
Pierre Claver Mbonimpa, a Burundian human rights activist, has been jailed and charged with spreading false rumors and endangering internal and external state security. The charges were made after a radio interview in which he made allegations that young Burundians were being armed and receiving military training in Democratic Republic of Congo. If found guilty, he could face up to eight years in prison.
Mbonimpa is the founder and president of the Association for the Protection of Human Rights and Detained Persons (APRODH) in Burundi, an organization he started after being wrongfully imprisoned from 1992-94. He has received international awards for his human rights work, a job which has often incited harassment and intimidation from the Burundi government.
APRODH, and Mbonimpa specifically, has spoken out on behalf of victims of political violence and sought justice for the families of victims of political killings. The current government, which has attempted to extend its term by amending the Burundi Constitution, arrested scores of opposition party members, sentencing 21 of them to life imprisonment.
A pre-trial chamber of the high court in Bujumbura determined that Mbonimpa should remain in custody until his trial. Human Rights Watch has called for his immediate release, even if investigations against him must continue while he is not in custody. Many fear that his arrest was political in nature and that if a human rights champion of his influence is silenced, there is no telling how far the government will go to quell its opposition.
Sign this petition and demand that Mbonimpa be released immediately to continue his important work.
Dear President Pierre Nkurunziza,
Pierre Claver Mbonimpa has been detained for the past two weeks on charges of endangering internal and external state security and spreading false rumors, for speaking out about the training and arming of Burundian youth in the neighboring Democratic Republic of Congo.
Mbonimpa is a champion human rights activist, internationally recognized for his work. His organization APRODH has worked across Burundi campaigning for justice and recording abuse. The people of Burundi cannot afford for one of its loudest voices to be silenced, especially as Burundi prepares for elections in 2015.
The UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in 1998, asserts the right of individuals and associations “to promote and to strive for the protection and realization of human rights and fundamental freedoms.”
Mbonimpa should be released immediately.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: Safety Nets WB via Wikimedia Commons