Africa Media Development Foundation (AMDF) has expressed concern over the disappearance of Burundian journalist, Jean Bigirimana, who works with an independent weekly newspaper Iwacu.
A statement by AMDF Coordinator, Sekyen Dadik says “reports indicate that Bigirimana who lives in Bujumbura left home on July 22, since then, nothing was heard from him, or about him”.
Sources say Bigirimana received a phone call from someone in the country’s National Intelligence Service before leaving the house and he was to return home for dinner but never did.
In a report, by the Associated Press, his family was quoted as saying “he was arrested by Burundi’s National Intelligence Agency, and they fear, he was killed”.
His wife, Godeberthe Hakizimana told AP and other media, that her husband left home at lunch time for Bugaramana in the central province of Muramvya.
Iwacu had reported on its website that someone who claims to be a friend of Bigirimana had called the media to say their reporter was arrested by the intelligence agency for crossing the border between Burundi and neighboring Rwanda. He was also accused of publishing an article on experiences of journalists who fled Burundi.
A recent investigation by Iwacu, however shows that Bigirimana is being held by the police. Iwacu sources say that “he has been extremely beaten and is starving”.
Before joining Iwacu, Bigirimana, was with the pro-government radio station Rema FM.
AMDF is aware that a lot of arrests, torture, kidnappings, killings of activists and journalists have gone on since April 2015 with rising protests against President Pierre Nkurunziza’s agenda for a third term bid. The crackdown has forced many journalists and activists out of the country.
“AMDF is concerned about this development and therefore calls on the Burundian government to investigate and make known any information on the whereabouts and condition of Bigirimana,” AMDF Coordinator, Sekyen Dadik added.