Is the red liquid flowing from inside Burundi’s Secret Killing House, human blood? What has the Government of Burundi said about the alleged killings? Is the Pierre Nkurunziza, the President of Burundi behind the human rights violations?

In December 2016, a video is widely shared by Burundian social media accounts. It shows red liquid flowing from the gutter of a private property. Those who posted it speculated that the liquid might be blood.

Just to understand the extent people in power can misuse it for personal gain and preservation: Read this story about an American Tourist who was killed in Kenya, and her fathers quest for justice for over 30 years.

The government of Burundi likes to portray Burundi as a country now at peace. But these clips tell a different story. – @iburundi @kacungira @attwoodch @maudjullien Click To Tweet

Burundi’s Map Location in East Africa:

Map Location of Burundi in East Africa - burundi
Map Location of Burundi in East Africa – burundi

Burundi is a tiny country in the Great Lakes region of Africa. It shot into the headlines when President Pierre Nkurunziza, decided to run for a third term in office.

People took to the streets, claiming he was violating the constitution. Peaceful protests soon turned violent. Hundreds were killed. These images were filmed when the BBC could still report freely on Burundi’s troubles.

There was a brutal crackdown on local independent media. Foreign journalists were denied visas, and special instructions were left at a border post refusing entry to a BBC team.

Faced with these restrictions, BBC Africa Eye decided to examine some of the social media images that have been trickling out of Burundi in recent years. The government of Burundi likes to portray Burundi as a country now at peace. But these clips tell a different story.

Burundi’s Secret Killing House – The River of Blood: (Video)

The video of the red liquid was among the most disturbing, and it contained some information that allowed the BBC team to investigate further. It was posted on social media with an address: 76 Avenue Ntwarante. It’s here, in Kinindo, a quiet residential neighbourhood of Bujumbura.

Before you continue reading this, I highly recommend this article about Terrorism in Kenya – The Power of a Traumatised Country written by Onyango Otieno. It explores sensitive issues like how the Post-Election Violence has claimed more lives than any terrorist Attack in Kenya.

Onyango asks: “Could we have Masked the actual face of Terrorism in Kenya?”. Inspired by the recent Riverside Attacks and tweets like this one by Ramapithecus @RamzZy_ : Al Shabaab gives the youth something to die for in areas where the govt gives the youth nothing to live for.  Click here to open the article in a new tab.

Former Burundian intelligence agents say that the country’s security services are running secret torture and detention sites to silence dissent. – @iburundi @kacungira @attwoodch @maudjullien Click To Tweet

Some asked if the house was being used by Burundi’s feared intelligence services. The government immediately denied that this house – or any other – had ever been used as a torture facility.

BBC Africa Eye has been looking closely at this house and asking some critical questions. Who lived here? Did people die here? And is the Burundian government running secret torture facilities to silence dissent?

In April 2018, the BBC team managed to find found the house’s owner: Prosper Kaze. He is an active member of the opposition who no longer lives in Burundi. And he recognised his property in the video. “It’s a place where I grew up, I can’t mistake it. I’m not good at drawing but just from memory, this is the sitting room…”

A video is widely shared by Burundian social media accounts. It shows red liquid flowing from the gutter of a private property. Those who posted it speculated that the liquid might be blood. – @iburundi @kacungira @attwoodch Click To Tweet

Inside Burundi’s Secret Killing House – River of Blood

The private property in Burundi is being used by the country’s security forces to terrorise opponent
The private property in Burundi is being used by the country’s security forces to terrorise opponent

With Prosper’s guidance and family photos, Forensic Architecture – who specialise in the precise reconstruction of witness testimony- built this virtual model of Burundi’s Secret Killing House. It’s the house Prosper grew up in, and to which he took his own children to spend time with their grandparents.

His family left the country and abandoned the property in 2015, at the height of the protests. In November of that year, pictures showing what looked like the same house being raided by security forces emerged on social media. A journalist was also at the scene and gave us images that mapped perfectly onto the model. The security forces said they were reclaiming the property from rebels.

Prosper’s house was now in the hands of Burundi’s authorities. But what did they do with it? And why, one year later, was red liquid flowing from its gutter? After months of searching we tracked down a man who claimed to know the property – and what happened here. He drew a sketch of it for us, which proved that he really was familiar with the layout of Prosper’s house.

A red liquid, which looked like blood, was seen pouring from its gutter. We ask if Burundi’s repression of opponents has now gone underground? – @iburundi @kacungira @attwoodch @maudjullien Click To Tweet
Inside Burundi's secret government death house where dissidents are tortured and beheaded
Inside Burundi’s Secret Killing House where dissidents are tortured and beheaded

Political misuse of power was there from the very day we got independence. It is an open secret: Uhuru Kenyatta is a son of a thief. His father, Jomo Kenyatta was a land grabber and a man who used state resources to enrich himself. Open this article in a new tab to to understand why the quest for justice won’t stop, despite people in the system working twice as hard against it.

Nathan says he worked as a guard for a man called Alexis Ndayikengurukiye – known as Nkoroka. Nkoroka is the deputy head of interior security for Burundi’s intelligence service and is accused by local human rights activists of running secret detention centres across the country.

The BBC team took Forensic Architecture to meet Nathan. Using the model to walk through the house – Nathan gave a detailed account of what he had witnessed in each room.

Prosecutor General Nyandwi Sylvestre maintained that the blood came from goats slaughtered to mark the Muslim festival of Eid. – @iburundi @kacungira @attwoodch @maudjullien Click To Tweet

Extra-Judicial Killings in Burundi:

In December 2016, Pierre heard something worse than the regular beatings. Two people, he said, tried to escape from the house, and the guards chased after them. It was not just the screaming that made Pierre think the detainees had been killed. He also says he heard the chief – Nkoroka – talking about body bags. Pierre didn’t see any of this. He was locked in a room, listening to the terrifying sound of men screaming outside.

It is impossible to be 100% sure that this liquid is the blood of the three men Nathan described. But Nathan did confirm that Pierre – the prisoner who says he heard men being killed – was also held captive at 76 avenue Ntwarante at the time of the alleged killings.

House number 76 in Kinindo, Bujumbura, believed to have been a secret torture facility. PHOTO - MOSES HAVYARIMANA - NMG
House number 76 in Kinindo, Bujumbura, believed to have been Burundi’s Secret Killing House. PHOTO – MOSES HAVYARIMANA – NMG

Was this house in Burundi’s capital Bujumbura, used as a torture facility by the government. But what does it tell us about the bigger picture? To understand the origins of the current violence, we need to go back in time. Between 1993 and the early 2000s there was a civil war in Burundi.

The conflict pitted the Tutsi minority, who had held power for many years, against the Hutu majority. The war ended when Nelson Mandela brokered a peace deal laying out the terms for a power-sharing agreement.

“President Buyoya has had the courage (and the vision (..) he has agreed that the new army should be created from 50 per cent of the Hutus and 50 per cent of the Tutsis.” The agreement also said that no President could hold power for more than two terms – it laid the foundations for a decade of peace and stability. But when Pierre Nkurunziza decided to run again, many said he was violating the peace deal, a charge the President has always denied.

Refuelling the Genocide:

Thousands, both Hutu and Tutsi, took to the streets – and in response, the regime mobilized its security apparatus to suppress dissent. Today, some believe that those in charge are trying to turn the two ethnic groups against each other – to deflect attention away from Nkurunziza’s attempts to stay in power.

According to the former insiders we spoke with, the crackdown of 2015 has now turned into a quiet, orchestrated program to eliminate opposition. Prosper’s house is not the only site that has reportedly been used as a secret detention centre for political prisoners.

Thousands, both Hutu and Tutsi, took to the streets – and in response, the regime mobilized its security apparatus to suppress dissent. – @iburundi @kacungira @attwoodch @maudjullien Click To Tweet
Inside the secret killing house - Whisper Eye Whisper Eye
Burundi’s Secret Killing House – Whisper Eye Whisper Eye

Torture Locations + Secret Detention Centre for Political Prisoners:

At least 21 other torture locations have been reported by victims and intelligence agents to the UN, to the civil society organisation Ndondeza and to the BBC, in these areas of the country.

Of these 21, we have been able to locate 8 sites in the capital with precision:

  • Muha military camp
  • The National Intelligence Agency headquarters,
  • The basement of the ruling party headquarters,
  • Containers in the yard of the national water and electricity provider’s building in Kigobe,
  • The Headquarters of the police unit in charge of protecting the country’s institutions. This is where former president Melchior Ndadaye was buried.

Local human rights groups confirm that political violence is still happening. The BBC team analysed the reports coming out of Burundi. They indicate that although fewer deaths are reported, more and more people are going missing or being tortured, and that these incidents are now spread right across the country.

Local human rights groups confirm that political violence is still happening. Although fewer deaths are reported, more and more people are going missing or being tortured. – @iburundi @kacungira @attwoodch @maudjullien Click To Tweet
Torture and Unlawful Military Detention in Rwanda - HRW Human Rights Watch
Torture and Unlawful Military Detention in Rwanda – HRW Human Rights Watch

Human Rights Violations:

President Pierre Nkurunziza and his government have always denied involvement in human rights violations. But several of the sources we spoke to, including former government insiders, believe that this alleged programme of detention and torture has been approved at the highest levels.

The protests of 2015 have disappeared from the streets of Bujumbura, as have the journalists who covered them. But it would be a mistake – says one former intelligence agent – to think that Burundi is now at peace.

By asking questions about what happened in this house, we have found disturbing evidence that Burundi’s government is still eliminating opposition to its rule. Multiple witnesses have told us about a hidden but systematic programme of torture and killing. Local dissidents have a name for this – they call it “Kamwe Kamwe”… One by one.

Multiple witnesses have told us about a hidden but systematic programme of torture and killing. Local dissidents have a name for this – they call it “Kamwe Kamwe”… One by one. – @iburundi @kacungira @attwoodch @maudjullien Click To Tweet
Inside the secret killing house - Whisper Eye Whisper Eye
Inside Burundi’s Secret Killing House – Whisper Eye Whisper Eye

Government Comments on Burundi’s Secret Killing House

Burundi’s authorities have dismissed a BBC investigation into alleged secret torture sites as “fake news”.

Prosecutor General Nyandwi Sylvestre maintained that the blood came from goats slaughtered to mark the Muslim festival of Eid. Since independence in 1962, Burundi has been plagued by ethnic tension.

Hundreds of people have died since unrest began in 2015, amid protests over President Pierre Nkurunziza’s third-term bid and a subsequent failed coup, with thousands fleeing the country.

Burundi’s Justice Minister Laurentine Kanyana has called a documentary by the British Broadcasting Corporation a ”fake report” and has demanded the broadcaster pull it down and pay damages to those tarnished by its airing.

the minister addressed a press conference where the documentary was screened for all members of the diplomatic corps, and later travelled with the group to house number 76 located in Kinindo in the outskirts of Bujumbura, where the said crimes are alleged to have been committed.

Speaking at the house, the minister said: “Burundi government will be suing the BBC on the fake investigation report it published as this has a big impact on our country, most especially in tarnishing the country’s image.”

Coincidentally, the owner of the house, Prosper Kaze, is a person of interest to the justice department, accused of trying to assassinate government officials.

In was in the same house, then apparently abandoned, that police in November 2015 said they had found weapons hidden. The house has since been under the control of the country’s security forces.

Coincidentally, the owner of the house, Prosper Kaze, is a person of interest to the justice department, accused of trying to assassinate government officials. – @iburundi @kacungira @attwoodch @maudjullien Click To Tweet
Hundreds of people have died since the 2015 unrest began with thousands fleeing the country - reuters
Hundreds of people have died since the 2015 unrest began with thousands fleeing the country – reuters

Public Comments on Burundi’s Secret Killing House:

Greed and power will destroy our african countries, it’s so sad and heart breaking.

Brenda Nyamichaba

The reason why my country as well as other African countries are in this state and worst is because those that have the knowledge and power to change Africa are currently seated in their comfortable bed somwhere in a western country cowardly complaining about the state of Africa

queen gahwekazi

The burundi leaders and government should be charged with human rights violations and war crimes and arrested and put in prison

Cureall Mouthwash

Young African Black men running around like a bunch of hyenas. Why can’t they have a peaceful protest? African men need to do better. Stop it with the foolishness!

Mary

UN won’t and can’t help Africa. It’s Africa to help herself. If the leaders cannot unite and save Africa then let the African people rescue themselves from the leaders and install it’s hand picked leaders. UN is owned by whitemen and Africa is excluded from its cabinet Membership. So what do you expect?

Chris Osedo

So what good Burundians were expecting from that man full of genocide ideology.!they never learned a lesson from the Rwandan genocide….

taylor ngabo

When do we stop all these? Oh Africa my Africa and our Africa who have we wrong? who has done this to us? Vladimir Putin is right “When an African becomes rich, his bank accounts are in Switzerland. He travels to France for medical treatment. He invests in Germany. He buys from Dubai, He consumes Chinese. He prays in Rome, Israel, Mecca and Medina. His children study in Europe. He travels to USA, Canada and Europe for tourism. If he dies, he will be buried in his native country of Africa. Africa is just a cemetery for African. How can a cemetery be developed?” and Donald Trump “Africa is a shithole”

Yahaya Josh

Kamwe Kamwe – Inside Burundi’s Killing Machine:

A BBC Africa Eye investigation – produced and directed by Charlotte Attwood and Maud Jullien. Edited by Suzanne Vanhooymissen, Spatial reconstruction and Situated Testimony: Forensic Architecture. Motion Graphics: Tom Flannery

Former Burundian intelligence agents say that the country’s security services are running secret torture and detention sites to silence dissent.

Using cutting edge reconstruction techniques BBC Africa Eye examines one house in particular, which was filmed in a video posted on social media in 2016. A red liquid, which looked like blood, was seen pouring from its gutter.

We ask if Burundi’s repression of opponents has now gone underground? The government has always denied any human rights violations, and declined to comment for this report.

A BBC Africa Eye investigation – produced and directed by Charlotte Attwood and Maud Jullien.
Edited by Suzanne Vanhooymissen
Spatial reconstruction and Situated Testimony: Forensic Architecture Motion Graphics: Tom Flannery

BBC News Africa