February 25, 2016
The Embassy of the United States of America in Bujumbura read with interest the article entitled Cibitoke: Une image qui a enterré les dernières illusion des Sindamuja that was published by www.Burundi-24.com on February 21.
The Embassy condemns the polemical tone of the article, as well its offensive mischaracterization of statements and actions by U.S. officials, including the president of the United States. Neither the tone nor the misleading statements rise to the internationally generally recognized standards of free, independent, and professional media services.
The Embassy further condemns the intent apparent in the article to provoke anti-Rwandan sentiments, possibly including violence. In this regard, the Embassy notes that President Nkurunziza condemned hate speech or violent language on February 20 in Cibitoke, adding that the perpetrators of such language must be sanctioned.
The Embassy notes, moreover, that unlike the author or authors of the article, President Nkurunziza affirmed in Cibitoke that all Burundians, including those who have fled the country, must participate in inclusive political dialogue regarding the path to peace for Burundi. The assertion in the article that civil society triggered the insurgency suggests that www.Burundi-24.com believes that all elements of civil society that do not share its views should be excluded from the dialogue despite President Nkurunziza’s call for inclusive dialogue.
The Embassy wishes to emphasize that the U.S. Ambassador to Burundi and the U.S. Special Envoy went to Cibitoke on February 20 to express the U.S. Government’s continued solidarity with all Burundians, regardless of political orientation, who seek the chance to educate and raise their children in a secure, pluralist Burundi. The Embassy trusts that www.Burundi-24.com agrees that this vision of the future is the one that Burundians hope to see.
The Embassy requested that www.Burundi-24.com publish this Letter to the Editor on its website. Such action would show, at the very least, that www.Burundi-24.com is prepared to admit to being mistaken in the present circumstances. Publishing the Letter to the Editor seems the right thing to do if we are to conclude, as does the article, that the victory must be that of the peace and reunion of Burundians with their former partners.