Catholic bishops accused of spreading hatred

Catholic bishops in Burundi are being accused of “spitting venomous hatred” over their message denouncing intolerance and political violence ahead of next year’s presidential elections.

The Burundi  Conference of Catholic Bishops, message was read out in churches on Sunday.

It expresses the bishops’ concern about the country’s next election, which is set for May 2020.

It will be the first election since President Pierre Nkurunziza’s bid for a third term plunged the country into crisis in 2015.

The bishops’ letter told congregations of their concern about efforts to “suffocate and assault certain political parties and to persecute their members.

“Criminal acts go as far as murders with political motives … perpetuated against those with different opinions of the government,” the letter says.

It also draws attention to the ruling party’s youth league, which the bishops say has “taken the place of security forces”.

Called the Imbonerakure, the United Nations has accused youth league of committing atrocities.

Presidential spokesman Willy Nyamitwe posted outraged tweets about the bishops after the message was leaked on social media ahead of church services.

“Some bishops should be defrocked because it is becoming a habit: on the eve of elections they spit their venomous hatred through incendiary messages”, he wrote on Sunday.

Also to accuse the bishops of sowing division is the secretary-general of Burundi’s ruling party.

“It is shameful to spread hatred among the faithful,” he told a political gathering.

Earlier this month a UN commission spoke out about the prevailing climate of fear in the lead up to next year’s elections.

Crimes against humanity and other serious violations are continuous and committed with “impunity” they reported.

“The commission found that the eight common risk factors for criminal atrocities are present in Burundi.”

In the commission’s view “the evolving situation must be monitored with the greatest vigilance”.

At least 1,200 people were killed in violence after the 2015 election and over 400,000 were displaced.

Nkurunziza announced in June last year he would not stand for election in 2020, confounding critics who accused him of working to extend his grip on power.


Relations soured between the the Catholic Church and the government of Nkurunziza, a devout evangelical, after the Church opposed his third-term bid in 2015.

Additional reading

News category: World.

Tags: , , , , ,