Burundi: soldiers detained for refusing to deploy to the DRC Burundi: soldiers detained for refusing to deploy to the DRC

Burundi: soldiers detained for refusing to deploy to the DRC

Burundi: soldiers detained for refusing to deploy to the DRC

Dozens of Burundian soldiers have been arrested for refusing to be deployed to eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) as part of the fight against the M23 rebel group, which is advancing towards a major border town, according to reports. army officers, prison officials and other witnesses.

The dissident soldiers are being held in at least four prisons in the small central African country, they told The Associated Press.

Clashes between the M23 , supported by Rwanda according to the United States , and Congolese troops have intensified in recent weeks, with rebels threatening the Congolese town of Goma , on the border with Rwanda .

Burundian President Γ‰variste Ndayishimiye acknowledged, during a public broadcast on December 29, the presence of Burundian troops in eastern Congo under a defense pact concluded with Congolese authorities.

“If you don't help your neighbor put out the fire when his house is burning, tomorrow, if it's your turn, he won't come and help you ,” he said. _"If Burundi helps (the Congo), it defends itself."_He declared in this speech that it was "normal for Burundian soldiers to be killed on Congolese territory" .

Rebel groups
Tensions have risen in Africa's Great Lakes region, with Rwanda, Burundi and Congo accusing each other of supporting violent rebel groups operating in lawless areas of eastern Congo.

Congolese President Felix Tshisekedi has accused the Rwandan government of actively supporting the M23, which controls territory close to the Rwandan border. UN experts have cited "strong evidence" that members of the Rwandan armed forces were carrying out operations in support of rebels in eastern Congo. Rwanda denies supporting the M23.

At the same time, Burundi accuses Rwanda of supporting another rebel group based in Congo and opposed to the Burundian government. This group, known as RED-Tabara , has claimed responsibility for multiple deadly attacks inside Burundi. The latest attack, which left at least nine dead, took place on Sunday.

Last month, Burundi suspended diplomatic relations with Rwanda and closed its border, in response to Rwanda's alleged support for RED-Tabara, which is based in South Kivu province , Congo. Rwanda denies this allegation.

Detention centers
Burundian authorities have not revealed the number of soldiers deployed in eastern Congo. They have also not commented on the arrests of soldiers who refuse to be deployed across the border.

According to two army officers and several prison guards who spoke to the AP, arrests of dissident soldiers began in December, with more than 200 detained . At least 103 of them are being held in Rumonge prison in the southwest of the country, two prison guards said. Others are being held in pre-trial detention centers in Ngozi in the north, Ruyigi in the east and Bururi in the south, according to prison guards at each of these penitentiary establishments.

An army colonel in Bujumbura, the commercial capital, said many soldiers were imprisoned "for refusing to fight alongside the Congolese army against the M23" . Some are also accused of stealing war funds , he added, without giving further details.

"Some have already been dismissed from the army, but there are also some who have been acquitted. It is no secret that many soldiers are detained for these acts ," he added.

A Burundian army captain told the AP he deserted the army after refusing to be sent to Congo. “For a professional soldier to engage in combat, there must at least be a motive for the conflict ,” he said. “He must also measure his strengths and weaknesses, as well as those of the enemy. But in the current situation, we are asked to go and fight blindly . ”

Washington has called for a de-escalation of tensions in eastern Congo, where the M23 is one of more than 100 armed groups active in eastern Congo, seeking a share of the country's gold and other resources. the region while carrying out massacres .

Many M23 fighters, including Congolese Tutsis, were formerly members of the Congolese army. The group's leaders say they are fighting to protect local Tutsis from Hutu extremist groups such as the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda , whose members were among the perpetrators of the 1994 genocide against Rwanda's Tutsi minority.

Rwandan authorities raised concerns about the armed group in a statement last week, rejecting U.S. calls for Rwanda to withdraw its troops and missile systems from Congolese territory.


  1. The arrest of Burundian soldiers refusing deployment to fight the M23 in Congo highlights tensions in the Great Lakes region. Allegations of cross-border support exacerbate the complex geopolitical landscape.

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