In the wake of the arrest and detention of three teenage Burundian schoolgirls on charges on defacing pictures of President Nkurunziza, social media has thrown support behind the girls asking for their release by sharing funny edited images of the president with a #FreeOurGirls hashtag.
The girls, who are all under the age of 18, were arrested on March 12 together with four other students including 3 girls and a 13-year-old boy who were later released without any charges filed against them, according to The Independent. The 3 teenagers were officially charged on Monday, March 18, with insulting President Nkurunziza.
A spokeswoman for the Supreme Court of Burundi, Agnès Bangiricenge also confirmed the charges on Thursday, Reuters reports.
The accused teenage girls, who could face prison sentences of up to five years, are currently remanded in a prison in Kirundo after the court decided to go ahead with the trial on Wednesday.
“It is true that scribbling (on the president’s picture) is a punishable offence under the Burundian law but since it was committed by teenagers, I believe this is a mitigating circumstance,” David Ninganza, a children’s rights defender told Reuters.
“Those school children are not engaged in any political fights and need no political posts. That’s why judges have to consider all those issues in their investigations.”
Take a look at some of the images that have been shared online:
Scribbling is not a crime. #FreeOurGirls #Burundi— iBurundi (@iburundi) March 22, 2019
cc @BurundiGov @pnkurunziza pic.twitter.com/LuApJKG9za
#FreeOurGirls #Burundi: There is no reason 3 teenage girls are in prison for doodling. When textbooks are lost, damaged or defaced; it’s a matter dealt with at school. pic.twitter.com/hk500iFNwg— iBurundi (@iburundi) March 22, 2019
#FreeOurGirls #Burundi— iBurundi (@iburundi) March 22, 2019
Who jails children for doodling? @pnkurunziza: Free those girls. pic.twitter.com/jTXXTEC6jE
#Burundi #FreeOurGirls. They should not be in prison for scribbling in the textbooks. pic.twitter.com/KCrD5YWrQT— iBurundi (@iburundi) March 22, 2019
#Burundi—Scribbling is not a crime. #FreeOurGirls pic.twitter.com/WFsHI1hZaA— iBurundi (@iburundi) March 22, 2019
#Burundi—Three schoolgirls are still arbitrarily detained by @BurundiGov at some 50 km away from their family. #FreeOurGirls pic.twitter.com/RfL5xwiy6l— iBurundi (@iburundi) March 22, 2019
#Burundi—More doodling by people to protest the arbitrary detention of schoolgirls by @BurundiGov and @pnkurunziza pic.twitter.com/pBAqaTXHB7— iBurundi (@iburundi) March 23, 2019