UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Visit to Burundi

15 April 2015

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein paid a three-day visit to Burundi – his first official country visit as the UN’s top human rights official, from 12 to 15 April 2015. 

UNIC Bujumbura prepared well in advance and organized media coverage and provided accreditation to the journalists who covered the visit. UNIC organized the press conference by Mr. Zeid and arranged exclusive interviews with key local and international journalists. UNIC also covered the visit for the UNCG quarterly bulletin, “Echo des Nations Unies au Burundi”. UNIC also supported the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights’s Spokesperson to disseminate to the press release announcing the visit and the HCHR final press statement at the end of the Mission.

During his visit, High Commissioner Zeid met the President as well as a number of top officials, including the Minister for External Relations and International Cooperation and the Minister in Charge of Human Rights. He also met the Executive Secretary of the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR), the Bureau of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, the President of the National Assembly, the President of the National Independent Electoral Commission, the President of the National Independent Human Rights Commission, members of civil society, political parties and the diplomatic corps. 

On 15 April, High Commissioner Zeid participated in a roundtable discussion on human rights and elections in Burundi. At the end of his visit, the High Commissioner held a press conference organized by the UNIC and the later mobilized the local and international journalists for participation. Around 25 selected journalists attended the Press conference.

Remembering Victims of the Rwanda Genocide

09 April 2015

The United Nations Information Centre (UNIC) in Bujumbura involved the Office of High Commission for Human Rights and the Rwanda Embassy in Burundi in an educational outreach activity to commemorate the 21st Anniversary of the Rwanda Genocide, on 9 April 2015, in the UNIC compound. 

Around 200 students between 19 and 21 years of age from two secondary schools in Bujumbura participated in a briefing which took place in the UNIC Library. Patrice Vahard, Country Representative of the Office of the UN High Commission for Human Rights took the floor the first and talked about the UN Convention against genocide and the international law regarding Genocide. The Minister Councilor of the Rwanda Embassy in Burundi, Desire Nyaruhirira, explained to the students on the history of the Genocide in Rwanda, starting with the colonial policy which used ethnic division teachings to strengthen their power in Rwanda. 

UNIC has also invited a survivor of the Genocide, a young university student, to come and talk about his testimony as a Genocide survivor. The students were touched by the story as Burundi shares a similar history with the same ethnic problems as Rwanda.

The discussions, questions and answers moment was very intense. The students learned about the signs of an emerging ideology of Genocide with the Rwanda experience, and how to avoid bad groups of people, even friends who talk about divisions and discrimination.  They also expressed the lessons learned from the Rwanda genocide regarding – among others – the danger of ethnic divisions, racial discrimination and political teachings of ethnic divisions. 

UNIC Bujumbura displayed a photo exhibition entitled, “The Lessons Learned from the Rwanda Genocide” and banderoles with the logo of the UN Communication Programme on the Rwanda Genocide as well as the UN70. 

UNIC also screened the film “Duhozanye: A community of Resilience, Hope and Dignity", with the same group, to strengthen learning and knowledge of what happened in Rwanda and how the country is making efforts to recover from the trauma and rebuild a peaceful and developed country.

Further, on 7 April 2015, UNIC supported the organization of the official ceremony to commemorate the Genocide. 

Categories: Bujumbura
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Remembering Victims of Slavery

25 March 2015

UNIC Bujumbura organized and hosted in its compound – on 25 March 2015 - a series of activities in commemoration of the International Day of Remembrance of the Victims of Slavery and the Transatlantic Slave Trade. 

A student briefing on Slavery in general and on transatlantic slave trade in particular was organized and the speakers were History Teachers from Lycée Vugizo and Lac Tanganyika Lycée secondary schools of Bujumbura, as well as the UNIC NIO who made introductory remarks talked about the UN and the slavery remembrance programme and presented the Secretary General’s message on the Day.

The film, “They are We”, was also introduced and screened for the students. The students, interested by the topic, asked many questions and on the UN and on Slavery. They also expressed the lesson learned from the whole programme. 

UNIC printed and displayed in its compound, the French version of the exhibition, "Women and Slavery" produced by the Outreach Division of DPI .The students were concentrated on reading the stories on the exhibit. The banners and posters on the above Day promoting the theme, “women and slavery” were also printed and displayed with the exhibition. The UN70 logo was also printed and used with the event and the NIO seized the opportunity of the above commemoration to talk about the UN Anniversary.

Launch of a three- day commemoration of Holocaust Remembrance 2015

29 January 2015
Student asking a question

Around nine hundred students from secondary schools of Bujumbura participated in educational outreach activities to commemorate the International Day in memory of the victims of the Holocaust, organized and hosted by the UNIC Bujumbura from 27 to 29 January 2015 under the theme “Liberty, Life and the Legacy of the Holocaust Survivors”. 

This year’s commemoration coincided with the commemoration of the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz –Birkenau camp and the 10th anniversary of the UN holocaust programme. UNIC seized this opportunity to “teach” the students on the reason behind and the relevance of the creation of the UN communication programme on the Holocaust. UNIC also briefed the students on the link between the Holocaust and the founding of the UN Organization.

UNIC got good support from the participating schools. These ones provide the History teachers who could repeat for the students the history of the First and the Second World War and their relation with the Holocausts. The commemoration included briefing sessions, photo exhibits and film screening, as well as debating, discussions, question-and-answer sessions for students, on the issue of the Holocaust.

Not only the students learned many things on the Holocaust that they ignored before, but they also shared the lessons that they learned from this historic tragedy. They could show a real interest on the subject, and this is normal for young people who were born and are growing in a conflict and genocide cycles environment, in the African Great Lakes Region, including Rwanda and Burundi. 

UNIC screened the French version of the 8 minute film on the Holocaust and UN Communication Programme, with a recording by the Secretary-General to commemorate the tenth anniversary of the UN Holocaust. UNIC screened also the film entitled,” The path to Nazi Genocide”.  UNIC printed the 10 anniversary promotional material and the photos on the Secretary General’s visit to Auschwitz –Birkenau Museum and organized a photo exhibit for students. UNIC NIO guided the visit and provided necessary explanations on the programme.

The activity was an occasion to educate the students about the Holocaust and the dangers of hatred and prejudice. The discussions were focused on the role of the youth in prevention of conflicts, and recommendations were made on how the new generation should be vigilant and never support bad ideologies which can lead to genocide. 

All the participating schools appreciated the UNIC initiative to provide leadership and human rights education to their students. They also appreciated the constant partnership of the UNIC and noted the added value of the educational programme on the Holocaust.