How many Burundians have to die? Letter to Rwandan and East African Authorities

‘We shall not allow people to snore next to our bed’ –Mandarin Proverb

Our Dear Leaders,

I hereby call upon you to save the people in Burundi as a priority.

There is no other pressing matter to act upon here in Rwanda or in East Africa, a part from saving Burundi.

It is not OK for us to conduct business as usual while Burundians are being killed daily, as if they have no one to speak for them. They have done nothing wrong to deserve that, and they have the same dreams as all of us East Africans. Dreams of peace, dreams of security and dreams of prosperity.

I will make the call mostly to Rwanda; the only place I pay taxes, the only people I trust.

It is true, from my standpoint, history has taught me not to trust the international community, so I didn’t expect anything from them. However, I have now grown weary of the dysfunctions – thus inaction of our East African Community.

wounded-survivorI think they are only good for railways and pipelines, which I wonder, whom they will serve, if the people of the community are all killed. We criticize the international community for acting too late and only out of selfish interests. Well??

So I have a few questions to ask my leaders, the Rwandans:

  • When you said Never Again, did you mean in Rwanda only or anywhere you could help?
  • How come you are able to fly troops miles away to South-Sudan, Central African Republic and Mali, and yet you can’t save people just next door?
  • Is it true that you went to Zaire because of their minerals, but Burundi is not interesting because they have none?
  • Incitement to genocide is there, militias are trained, weapons distributed and pilot killings initiated: What other signs are you waiting for, to justify your salvation action? How many more innocent people have to die?
  • What happened to ‘Coalitions of the willing’? Why aren’t you willing to coalesce this time and save human beings? One member’s unwillingness hasn’t stopped you before!
  • When will political considerations stop for humanitarian action to start?

I know you have condemned the situation, but mere words will not save Burundians. As you can see for yourselves, we are not dealing with politicians, diplomats; sensible, alert individuals who pay attention to good offices and those kinds of things; They proved that when the physically assaulted the Secretary General of the East African Community; a man who’s immunity is protected by Customary International Law; much older than the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations of 1961, which recognizes it.

We are dealing with unstable leaders who hatch plots to exterminate their own citizens; People who envision Mogadishu for their capital Bujumbura and paraphrase Sindikubwabo in their speeches;

Rebel leaders who were brought to power, not because they had won a single battle on the field, but because they excelled in exterminating civilians, raping women and playing tribal politics;

We are dealing with clinical idiots, delusional and erratic characters. So you shall not be forgiven for trying to reason with them – you are wasting your time, at the cost of innocent lives.

Also, the inaction of the international community shouldn’t come as a surprise to you: of all people! By now you must be seasoned enough to know that. If you can’t get a consensus withing the EAC, how do you expect it in the AU or the UN. No one cares about Burundians but we. So you shall not be forgiven for endorsing the fault on the international community. If you want to help, help: don’t look for excuses. ‘akimuhana kaza imvura ihise’. ‘There is nothing we could have done’ was not an excuse in 1994, is not an excuse now and will not be an excuse in the future.

Here I want to recall a question addressed to our President by a Burundian Lady during the recent Rwanda day in Amsterdam:

  • Nyakubahwa, uraretse abarundi bapfe ntaco ukoze?’ ‘Excellency, are you ‘willing’ to let Burundians die, without doing anything?’
  • How much aid will they cut this time? How many sanctions will they issue if we decide to take action in Burundi? How much of it are we ‘willing’ to accept? How much of it can we withstand? – To save Burundi;
  • When is enough enough, to give up our political comfort and appeal to our inner humanness – Ubuntu?


Gatete, Rwandan, Burundian, East African.