The dreaded Burundian youth wing of the ruling party National Council for the Defense of Democracy-Forces for Defense and Democracy (CNDD-FDD) Imbonerakure has caused outrage on social media after it released a video of its members threatening to “impregnate the opposition [women] so that they can give birth to Imbonerakure.”
In the video, hundreds of young men believed to be members of the Imbonerakure, meaning “those who see from far” in the local Kirundi language, are singing songs that encourage their male supporters to impregnate opposition women.
The video prompted the ruling CNND-FDD to issue a statement Wednesday distancing itself from the message and condemning the young men for what it says is a “misuse of language”:
A video has been circulating on social media showing youths gathering in Ntega in Kirundo province. Unfortunately, some youths sang a song, which is not consistent with the morals or ideology of the CNDD-FDD,” party Communication Chief Nancy-Ninette Mutoni said in the statement.
Initially, the party had accused the opposition of fabricating the video, but it was later forced to own up to its authenticity after it started generating anger on social media.
Rape as a Weapon of War
The Imbonerakure has been terrorizing opposition supporters in Burundi since 2015, when incumbent President Pierre Nkurunziza ran for a third term in office against the country’s supreme law.
The youth group has been accused of using rape as a weapon of war, with dozens of women, mainly from the opposition, being raped in or close to their homes as well as in refugee camps.
Men, some of them members of the opposition parties, have also not been spared; some of them have been killed in front of their families or abducted and used for ransom.
“Attackers from Burundi’s ruling party youth league tied up, brutally beat, and gang raped women, often with their children nearby. Many of the women have suffered long-term physical and psychological consequences,” said Skye Wheeler, the Women’s Rights Emergencies researcher at Human Rights Watch.
The human rights organization also says that the militia has been using rape as a way of deterring people from fleeing Burundi. The youths ambush refugees as they attempt to cross the Burundian-Tanzanian border, rape them, and then order them to return home.
The Imbonerakure is also known to work alongside the Burundian police in harassing opposition supporters.
Hundreds of people have been killed in the violence, with thousands being forced to flee to neighboring countries, such as Rwanda and Tanzania.