Burundi: Stop Attacking Journalists!
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Burundi: Stop Attacking Journalists!

    1. Petition by

      African Public Radio

My name is Eric Manirakiza. I am the Managing Director of African Public Radio and Correspondent for Voice of America, Burundi, and I need your help.  The government in Burundi has systematically been trying to silence media in Burundi by threatening, jailing, and attacking them.  Recently, the Burundian Parliament and Senate both overwhelmingly passed a bill which proposes to legitimately silence them by making it a crime to report on things like terrorism and the economy, requiring that sources be revealed, a minimum level of education for journalists, and imposing severe fines for violations.

Since 2010, the media has uncovered extensive government corruption and human rights violations in my country.  In 2011, Human Rights Watch reported at least 160 political assassinations, uncovered largely by the local independent media.  In response, the government has undertaken extreme measures to silence the media, including jailing journalists for as long as 10 months, trying them for treason and terrorism, threatening to close media outlets, and threatening to kill them and their families.  My family and I have received numerous death threats, and at times had to live in exile.  Since starting this petition, one of my journalists was shot by police, and another journalists was attacked in his home and had his press recordings stolen.

Like Rwanda, Burundi has suffered from decades of fighting between the Hutus and Tutsis.  The international community, including Presidents Bill Clinton and Nelson Mandela, played a key role in ending the long civil war in Burundi.  As part of the brokered peace agreement, freedom of expression was to be guaranteed by the Burundian Constitution, and international treaties guaranteeing basic human rights, including free expression, were to be observed. 

Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, Reporters Without Borders, and the Committee to Protect Journalists have all condemned this law.  It is an attack on freedom of expression, and any attack on freedom of expression is a direct attack on democracy.  Unless we ensure that the media in Burundi remains independent and maintains the right to report freely, the government will continue to act with impunity, threatening the democracy we have fought so hard for.

One way that we can make a difference is for the international community to place pressure on the Burundian President not to sign the new bill into law.  The international community has invested heavily in the rebuilding of Burundi.  In fact, the majority of the Burundian government's budget comes from foreign aid.  The international community -- including the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee, the U.S. House Committee on Foreign Affairs, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, the World Bank, and more -- needs to take a stand and tell the President of Burundi that it must ensure press freedoms if it wishes to continue to receive the international aid that it depends on.

Please take a minute and demand freedom of the press in Burundi!

Recent signatures

    News

    1. Reached 250 signatures
    2. Amnesty International Protests New Law at Burundi Embassy, Belgium

      Amnesty International activists demonstrate against new press freedom law in Burundi, in Brussels

      View the photo Amnesty International activists demonstrate against new press freedom law in Burundi, in Brussels on Yahoo! News. Find more photos in our photo galleries.

    3. What is Democracy?

      Pascal Mpawenayo answers this question in this documentary video, Democracy Is, a 2010 Finalist in the US State Department's Democracy Video Challenge: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ykhJBvNFAkg

      Democracy is

      Uploaded by Pascal M on 2010-01-30.

    4. What is Democracy?

      Pascal Mpawenayo answers this question in this documentary video, Democracy Is, a 2010 Finalist in the US State Department's Democracy Video Challenge: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ykhJBvNFAkg

    5. 12,000 Burundians Sign Hard Copy Petition Against Press Law

      Media vows to continue to resist the crackdown on free expression and report attacks on journalists. This article is in French. You can translate it easily on Google Translate. http://www.iwacu-burundi.org/spip.php?article5557

    6. Reporters Withouth Borders Issues Open Letter to Burundian President

      Reporters Without Borders wrote an open letter to President Pierre Nkurunziza on Tuesday voicing concern about freedom of information in Burundi and asking him not to promulgate a media law that has been passed by the country’s parliament. http://en.rsf.org/burundi-media-law-s-threat-to-freedom-of-07-05-2013,44574.html

    7. Burundi's Silencing of Media is Effort to Silence Opposition

      If there are no radios or journalists, the civil society cannot spread their message, and there can be no opposition. Its that simple.
      http://za.news.yahoo.com/burundi-media-cross-hairs-government-113206085.html

      Burundi media: in the cross-hairs of government

      Read 'Burundi media: in the cross-hairs of government' on Yahoo! News South Africa. Burundi's journalists are bracing for tough times after parliament passed a restrictive draft media law that rights groups fear is designed to silence critical voices ahead of a general election in two years.

    8. March, 2013: Journalist Sentenced to Life for Terrorism Released

      RFI journalist freed from Burundi prison

      Burundian journalist Hassan Ruvakuki, who had been sentenced to life in jail on terrorism charges, was freed on Wednesday, his lawyer said. "I thank the prosecutor general who has just freed Hassan Ruvakuki," the journalist's lawyer Fabien Segatwa said. The lawyer said the decision was taken "to enable Ruvakuki to go for medical care".

    9. US Embassy Urges Burundi to Reconsider and Revise Proposed Law

      "We are concerned that the proposed media bill recently passed by the National Assembly and the Senate may be inconsistent with Burundi’s international human rights obligations. We are deeply concerned that the bill, if signed into law, would sharply restrict the freedom of the press in Burundi.
      We urge the Government of Burundi to revise the bill and ensure that it upholds freedom of the press as enshrined in international human rights agreements to which Burundi is a party."
      http://photos.state.gov/libraries/burundi/231771/PDFs/world-press-freedom-day_english.pdf

    10. "Voice of the Voiceless"

      African Public Radio is known as the "Voice of the Voiceless" because of its transformative role in bringing ordinary citizens into the political debate. Please watch this documentary video to find out more. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kC0l8B0qECM

      voice of voiceless

      Uploaded by MEFblog on 2013-05-02.

    11. Burundian Journalists March To Protest New Law

      Journalists gathered and celebrated International Press Freedom Day with a quiet march in protest of the new proposed media law. http://www.isanganiro.org/spip.php?article4186

    12. Burundi Needs You to Pay Attention

      How do you destroy a democracy? Shut down the free exchange of information. It's that simple and that sinister...and that's what's happening in Burundi right now.

      Burundi Needs You to Pay Attention | mef BLOG

      Eric Manirakiza, Managing Director of African Public Radio (Radio Publique Africaine - RPA) and Correspondent for Voice of America, Burundi, is touring the US in an urgent appeal for help. The African nation of Burundi is the one of the world's poorest countries.

    13. Burundi Ranked #132 on Press Freedoms by Reporters Without Borders

      It is important to remember that this already low ranking was complied prior to the enacting of the new proposed law. http://en.rsf.org/press-freedom-index-2013,1054.html

    14. Eric Manirakiza Appeals to the World to Pay Attention to Burundi

      Eric Manirakiza Appeals to the World to Pay Attention to Burundi

      Eric Manirakiza is the Managing Director of African Public Radio (RPA) and Correspondent for Voice of America, Burundi. Here he speaks regarding the gross human rights violations and corruption that he has had a hand in uncovering in Burundi, and the government's extraordinary efforts to silence him and the rest of the media.

    15. Amnesty International Condemns New Media Law

      Burundi: Freedom of expression under threat from new press law

      A new press law that would severely limit the activities of journalists in Burundi poses a grave threat to freedom of expression, Amnesty International said today.The draft law, which includes new press-related crimes and exorbitant fines for journalists who violate them, looks set to be signed off by Burundi's President after it was adopted by the

    16. RPA Journalist Shot by Police, Officer Gets 15 Years Same Day!

      Burundi reporter shot by police officer

      Bujumbura - A journalist in Burundi on Saturday sustained serious gunshot wounds after a police officer he saw extorting money from men carrying fruit to market opened fire on him, witnesses said. Patrick Niyonkuru, a reporter with independent radio station African Public Radio (RPA), surprised the police officer in the capital before dawn on Saturday.

    17. Pascal Mp Records Song to Support Journalists and Free Speech!

      WIYOTS'IKI by ǝsdʎlɐɔsɐd - The MixTape

      ǝsdʎlɐɔsɐd - The MixTape | Hip Hop | Bujumbura, BI

    18. Belgium Concerned Over New Law, Holds Senate Hearing

      Radio Isanganiro

      Projet de loi sur la création des postes frontières à guichets uniques Article produit par James Gashumba/Agence est-africaine de Presse Arusha, 26 avril 2013 (EANA)-L'Assemblée législative de la Communauté de l'Afrique de l'Est (EALA) a adopté jeudi une mesure qui (...)

    19. Burundi Lobby Groups Oppose New Media Law

      Burundi lobby groups oppose proposed media law

      The Chief Executive Officer of the lobby group Forum for Strengthening the Civil Society, Mr Vital Nshimirimana, signing a petition against Burundi's proposed media law. PHOCAS KANUNI | NATION MEDIA GROUP Burundians are collecting signatures to petition President Pierre Nkurunziza against assenting to a proposed media law seen as draconian.

    20. Human Rights Watch Sends Open Letter to Burundian President Over Law

      Burundi: Concerns About New Media Law | Human Rights Watch

      His Excellency Pierre Nkurunziza President of the Republic of Burundi Office of the President Bujumbura Burundi April 25, 2013 Your Excellency, Re: Concerns About New Media Law in Burundi I am writing to urge you not to sign the new media law adopted by the Senate on April 19, 2013, and to prevent it from being enacted in its current form.

    21. Reached 100 signatures
    22. Committee for Protection of Journalists Denounces New Media Law

      Burundi - Committee to Protect Journalists

      New York, April 23, 2013--The Committee to Protect Journalists condemns the passage in the Senate of highly restrictive amendments to Burundi's Press Law and calls on President Pierre Nkurunziza to reject the bill when it comes to him for confirmation.

    23. Sign-in Completely!

      Please make sure that you have filled out the sign-in information completely. There are many, many signatures that are not being recorded because they are incomplete. Remember, each signature counts!

    24. Leave a Message for African Public Radio!

      Starting today, African Public Radio will be reading all of your messages to its listeners. Please tell the citizens of Burundi why you are supporting this important petition!

    25. Burundi Media Law Too Restrictive, Activists Say

      Burundi Media Law Too Restrictive, Activists Say

      Journalists and activists in Burundi are opposing new legislation they say will infringe on press freedoms and lobbying the president to reject the bill. Last week, Burundi’s senate approve...

    Supporters

    Reasons for signing

    • Sarah Vandoorne GENT, VLAAMS GEWEST, BELGIë, BELGIUM
      • about 1 month ago

      Interessantste groepswerk van dit jaar draait rond het gebrek aan persvrijheid in Burundi: het bronnengeheim wordt in de kiem gesmoord, en België (als grootste donor) treedt amper op. Stop attacking journalists.

      REPORT THIS COMMENT:
    • BERANTO MAURICE TANANARIVE, MADAGASCAR
      • 10 months ago

      il est inconcevable et insupportable que l'on ne laisse pas aux journalistes leur liberté d'infromer.

      REPORT THIS COMMENT:
    • ange Rohi PRETORIA, SOUTH AFRICA
      • 11 months ago

      for studies research

      REPORT THIS COMMENT:
    • anoniem anoniem BUJUMBURA, BURUNDI
      • 11 months ago

      Si l'opposition ne peut pas faire son travail, la société civile et les journalistes sont le seul espoir pour garantir la démocratie. Courage à tous les journalistes burundais

      REPORT THIS COMMENT:
    • Didi Kpelly OTTAWA, CANADA
      • 11 months ago

      Freedom of Press is Freedom of the Voice of the People!

      REPORT THIS COMMENT:

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