18 September 2014, STRASBOURG – The European Parliament called on Thursday for the “immediate and unconditional” release of Burundian rights activist Pierre-Claver Mbonimpa, who has fallen seriously ill since being jailed in May.
The parliament “expresses concern about his deteriorating state of health and demands that he be given urgent medical assistance“, it said in a resolution.
Mbonimpa, 65, head of Burundi’s leading human rights advocacy group Aprodeh, was put on trial in July for “endangering the domestic and external security of the country“.
He was transferred to hospital the following month in a critical condition after contracting flu and malaria that was poorly treated in jail. He also suffers from diabetes and hypertension, according to his lawyers.
Mbonimpa has been awarded the International Red Cross’ highest decoration, the Henry Dunant Medal, for his commitment to human rights for his campaign against a series of killings of opposition members.
He was arrested after claiming on radio that members of the youth wing of the ruling CNDD-FDD party received weapons and paramilitary training in neighbouring eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). The government fiercely denied the allegations.
Burundi, a small nation in Africa’s Great Lakes region, emerged in 2006 from 13 years of brutal civil war. Its politics remain fractious ahead of presidential polls scheduled for June 2015.
The EU resolution calls on the Burundi government to “take measures to control the CNDD-FDD youth league, preventing its members from intimidating and attacking perceived opponents, and ensure that those responsible for abuses are brought to justice.”