Burundi: The blind obedience of some CDS members is motivated by poverty and poor living conditions.
Among the perpetrators of various crimes and human rights violations in Burundi, certain members of the defence and security forces occupy a significant place. These are mainly the police and soldiers from the cnddfdd, well selected, who are used by the authorities to kill, arrest and torture or imprison Tutsis or Hutus of the opposition. The SNR, composed 100% by the members of the cnddfdd, only have in their work the flagrant violations of human rights in Burundi. These are the state organs that stand out in this dirty business. To these is added of course the radicalized imbonerakure militia for this. Here, we must note that there are a good number of members of the defence and security corps from the FNL and the Ex Fab who agree to betray theirs (just pursue them closely, until misleading them to have enough to report to the cnddfdd system) to get favours from the people in power.
We take the liberty of asserting that getting to this stage depends first of all on the personality of the individual, but also on the poverty that has plagued members of the defence and security forces for a long time. They receive a salary that does not allow them to make ends meet, let alone provide their families with the minimum basic needs. Their low salary also does not allow them to obtain credit allowing them to set up a small project that would supplement their monthly income. Hence they remain in this misery until they retire, and the pension costs will also be insignificant.
It should also be noted that the career management system of Burundian soldiers and police officers does not allow them to flourish and pass easily, for those who have the capacities and skills, from one category to another (from the man of rank to non-commissioned officer, and from non-commissioned officer to officer).
Today, analysts interested in CDS do not hesitate to assert that if it had not been for peacekeeping missions, we would no longer speak of discipline within these bodies. On the one hand, because the overwhelming majority of the elements that make up these bodies come from the PMPA (armed political parties and movements = former rebels) whose discipline in the rebellion was based on the end of the cannon. A bullet to the head was the biggest penalty to fear; 300 lashes with a few months being buried in a hole (ihandage); these were the scares and kept the discipline and the respect for the rules. This is why, arriving in the defence and security forces without prior training, respect for human rights at home was a new issue. To talk to them about respect for regulations, human rights, respect for the hierarchy when they have not had any training in the matter, would be to sow in the void. On the other hand, because the discipline taught to Ex Fab in schools and military camps was drowned out when they became a minority and, above all, reduced to unimportant and uninfluential men. The third and most important reason is the lack of trained and enlightened leaders (command), and above all with below-average morality. These men saw their leaders murdering gratuitously, stealing and raping in broad daylight. It is difficult for them to respect them if it is only by force or by major compulsion.
The major constraint that maintains discipline within CDSs is poverty; and the only condition to get out of it is to spend at least once in a peacekeeping mission in Somalia or the Central African Republic. The members of these bodies accept all working conditions, even accept clearly illegal orders (eliminate people who are not of their ethnicity, kill or torture political opponents, etc.) in order to have this favour / or not to be see removed from the list of those who should participate in these peacekeeping missions. Although there is a high probability of losing their lives in these missions, the military would rather die by guns or bombs than starve as a family.
Unfortunately, those who manage to return safely do not benefit from the full cost of this very difficult mission. This money donated by European countries and the USA is first recovered by the government which keeps it for a long time to use it for its needs and gives it to the beneficiaries with a great delay after having withdrawn a lot of costs (kept unfairly by power). We will come back to this in detail, with the figures to back it up.
URN HITAMWONEZA believes that to have a secure country where there is more respect for human rights, we need professional defence and security bodies, broken with all practices of corruption, favouritism and belonging or having inclinations for political parties. This requires that they have a minimum of financial independence; that their well-being be assured by the government so that they do not tackle, with the necessary concentration, only to the missions entrusted to them. To get there, we need to change tack and put in place leaders who can understand this vision. As long as we keep leaders at the head of the state who seek only to exploit these defence and security forces just to stay in power at all costs, we will not get out of it. It’s up to us to act and the sooner the better.
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