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Minorities At Risk Project: Home    

Chronology for Tutsis in Burundi

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Date(s) Item
1301 - 1800 Waves of cattle-herders, perhaps originating in the north and east [note: some sources claim the Tutsis are of Hamitic (east African/Ethiopian) origin, but Lemarchand rejects this conclusion], settle in the area of modern Burundi. Gradually, the "Tutsi" cattle-herders establish a feudal system over the "Hutu" cultivators. Hutus had arrived in the area several centuries before the Tutsis.
1550 The unified kingdom of Burundi is formed.
1885 The Conference of Berlin awards Rwanda and Burundi to German East Africa.
1916 Belgian forces easily displace the German administration in Burundi (then known as Ruanda-Urundi, an area which included Rwanda).
1921 The League of Nations awards Belgium a mandate over Rwanda and Burundi.
1929 - 1933 Seeking to impose greater administrative rationality, Belgian colonial authorities reorganize the system of chiefdoms, reducing their total number from 133 to 46. Significantly, Hutus lose almost all of their positions as local leaders, although Tutsi incumbents are also displaced. The greatest beneficiaries of this measure are the "Bezi," a regional/princely faction composed of both Hutus and Tutsis (the Bezi are rivals of another mixed Hutu-Tutsi regional/princely faction known as the "Batare").
1934 Amid poor economic conditions caused by the Great Depression, a typhus epidemic spreads through Burundi. Deteriorating economic and social conditions prompt a revolt by discontented Hutu peasants.
Nov 1959 A Hutu revolt in Rwanda causes a major refugee flow of Tutsis into Burundi, heightening ethnic tensions in Burundi.
Jan 1961 A Hutu coup d'etat occurs in Rwanda, the monarchy is abolished, and a Republic is established.
Jun 20, 1962 The UN General Assembly votes to accept the partition of Ruanda-Urundi into two independent states.
Jul 1, 1962 Burundi declares independence.
Sep 1962 Burundi joins the United Nations.
1963 - 1965 The Tutsi king (note: although the king was a Tutsi the royal court in Burundi, unlike in Rwanda, was not associated with Tutsi dominance) attempts to balance competing ethnic interests by dividing top government posts between Hutus and Tutsis.
May 1963 Burundi is a founding member of the Organization of African Unity (OAU).
Jan 1965 The first Hutu Prime Minister is assassinated by a Tutsi refugee from Rwanda.
May 1965 A Hutu electoral victory in parliamentary elections is nullified when the king refuses to accept the Hutu Prime Minister-designate. Instead, the king appoints a Tutsi as Prime Minister.
Oct 1965 A failed coup attempt by Hutu members of the army and gendarmerie is staged. The royal palace is attacked. The coup is prompted by attempts to transfer powers from parliament to the (Tutsi) king after Hutus, for the first time, gained a majority in the legislature.
Nov 1965 The Tutsi monarch is overthrown and flees to Europe. A military-dominated (also meaning a Tutsi-dominated) republic is declared.
Jul 1966 (Tutsi) King Mwambutsa IV (reigned 1915-1966) is deposed by his son Charles Ndizeye, who becomes king Ntare III. The constitution is suspended.
Nov 1966 Tutsi army officers abolish the monarchy, thus depriving the country of a potentially stabilizing arbiter between competing ethnic factions. After the second coup of 1966, all public references to ethnic identities are suppressed.
1968 Hutus are no longer eligible to receive scholarships to study abroad. An unusual 'girth by height' requirement is introduced in order to exclude Hutu recruits from the military.
1968 - 1969 More executions of Hutu officers occur, with other Hutu leaders arrested. These measures bolster Tutsi control over army and political structures.
1971 A number of Tutsi-Abanyaruguru (a Tutsi sub-group) officials are arrested and charged with plotting to overthrow the government. In this period (1970-71) President Micombero (a Tutsi-Hima) attempts to purge Abanyaruguru from his government.
1972 Hutu insurgents attempt a coup and attack Tutsi civilians, leading to systematic massacres of Hutus by the Tutsi-dominated army (thus this violence was the result of an organized conspiracy against the state by Hutu militants). The estimated number of deaths is 80,000 to 100,000 (this is a conservative figure). Educated Hutus are especially targeted in this genocide in order to incapacitate a future Hutu leadership cadre. The violence is particularly harsh in Bururi province (where Tutsi-Hima dominance is strong); hence most refugees flee to adjacent Tanzania. As a result of the events of 1972, Belgium terminates its security cooperation pact with Burundi. However, during and after the killings France provides military assistance to the military. The government conducts no official inquiry into the events of 1972 nor are reconciliation measures implemented. It appears that after the violence of 1972, a systematic effort is made to recruit only Tutsis into the officer and enlisted ranks of the military. Previously, most officers were Tutsis while the enlisted ranks were filled mostly by Hutus.
1976 Army units led by General Bagaza stage a bloodless coup and overthrow President Micombero. The sole political party is abolished. A Supreme Revolutionary Council under military control is established to rule the country.
1977 President Bagaza initiates land reforms ending the system of Tutsi feudal landlords.
1981 - 1990 President Bagaza launches a vigorous drive against the Catholic Church. This anti-Catholic campaign is seen as an effort to undermine Hutus, who despite widespread discrimination maintain significant influence in Church affairs. The Church also serves as a counterweight and potential rival of the government by educating and providing medical treatment to poor Hutus, which the minority government apparently views as a threat.
1987 France and Burundi announce that they will continue their military training agreement.
Sep 1987 Bagaza is overthrown by Major Pierre Buyoya. The civilian constitution of 1981 is abrogated and a 31 member Military Committee for National Salvation is formed to rule the country.
1988 As a result of disorganized rural violence by politically and socially discontented Hutus against local Tutsi officials, notables, and civilians in the northern Ntega and Marangara communes, the Tutsi-dominated army conducts unpremeditated massacres of Hutus. Deaths are estimated to be between 5,000 and 20,000, or as high as 50,000. In 1988, Burundi is in the midst of an effort sponsored by the World Bank to move away from a subsistence economy by boosting private investment and diversifying exports. After the 1988 massacres, the following reform measures are implemented by Buyoya: an equal number of cabinet positions go to Hutus and Tutsis; more Hutus are recruited into the civil service; a Hutu Prime Minister is named; a national commission to study ethnic violence (described as a commission on "national unity", the euphemism for problems of ethnicity) is established with an equal number of Hutus and Tutsis; anti-Catholic Church policies are repealed; ethnic Hutu soldiers are assigned to the president's personal guard. Buyoya's reform measures, although limited and cautious, raise the ire of Tutsi hardliners even as they increase Hutu expectations to new heights. However, as during previous reform efforts, local Tutsi administrators continue repressive measures against Hutus. After the 1988 massacres, Hutu militants are put on trial but Army officers who may have exceeded their authority are not similarly charged. At an aid conference in 1988, the Government of Burundi raised 100 million more in aid than it had requested.
Aug 1988 The European Community calls on Burundi to allow international observers to investigate ethnic clashes. Canada calls for an independent investigation of Burundi's ethnic violence. The Canadian foreign minister says his diplomats will meet with Burundian officials as well as representatives of the Hutu tribe to discuss the situation. At an aid conference in 1988, the Government of Burundi raised 100 million more in aid than it had requested.
Sep 1988 Burundi government radio blames recent tribal clashes on a "psychosis of fear" which pervades the population.
Oct 1988 The US State Department departs from its previous statements blaming both sides for killing civilians and specifically charges the army with initiating large scale killings. The US House of Representatives votes 415-0 for a non-binding resolution which condemns ethnic violence in Burundi and urges the government to step up efforts at achieving national reconciliation. After the US Congress and State Department exert considerable pressure, President Buyoya acknowledges that an investigation of Burundi's ethnic situation is needed.
1989 In a policy opposed by World Bank advisors (who are pushing for austerity measures including reductions in government expenditures), Buyoya recruits more Hutus into the civil service.
May 1989 President Buyoya pledges to give Hutus more influence in governing Burundi, but rejects Hutu domination based on their numerical strength.
1990 A report by the Population Crisis Committee (Washington, DC) on the challenge to democracy caused by population growth, cites Burundi as one of the most unstable countries in the world due to its population problems. A National Security Council is formed to oversee operations of the security forces, and as a gesture of reconciliation President Buyoya appoints an equal number of Hutus and Tutsis to this body.
Feb 1991 A "National Unity Charter" is endorsed by 89.1% of voters. The Charter calls for ending military rule, restoring the constitution, and ensuring harmony between Hutu and Tutsi.
May 16, 1991 A National Unity Code is issued which pledges equal rights for Hutus, Tutsis, and Twas and condemns political violence. The Code is prepared by a committee of national reconciliation composed of politicians, church figures, and ordinary citizens.
Aug 1991 Small-scale incursions are carried out by Hutu exiles operating from Tanzania. Burundi accuses the Rwandan press of orchestrating a propaganda campaign against the country.
Oct 1991 The State Security Court (for cases of threats to internal and external security, insurrection, treason, and espionage) is abolished and replaced with a common-law court. Military offenses are to be dealt with under military courts.
Nov 1991 The radical Party for the Liberation of the Hutu People (Palipehutu), which was founded in the 1980s, launches attacks in northern towns in the hope of provoking a general Hutu uprising (300 Tutsi civilians are left dead and 1,000 Hutus are killed by the army). In a joint statement Burundi's two human rights leagues condemn violence, but apparently make no mention of ethnic groups and utilize the government rhetoric by appealing for "national unity."
Dec 1991 Burundi accuses Rwanda of supporting the Palipehutu rebels.
1992 A government minister claims that the security situation has improved because people (probably meaning Hutus) were no longer fleeing abroad for protection during ethnic violence, but were placing themselves under the protection of the security services.
Feb 1992 A decree on the press is promulgated calling for a pluralistic media operating under the framework of democracy. A new National Council for Communications is established to oversee the new system of press freedom, but objective information flow continues to be hampered by lack of resources and political intimidation.
Mar 1992 Two ministers participate in a coup attempt intended to preempt a cabinet reshuffling designed to bring more Hutus into the government. A new constitution is adopted which vests executive power in a directly-elected president who serves for 5 years. The official political monopoly enjoyed by UPRONA for 26 years is ended. Ethnically-based political movements are banned under this constitution, hence parties must pledge support for the concept of "national unity," recruit membership from every province, and reflect the ethnic diversity of Burundi. With the new constitution in place, the framework for elections is set, and they are held the following year.
Apr 1992 Palipehutu rebels invade Cibitoke province from their sanctuaries in Rwanda. In response, the government initiates a large-scale anti-rebel offensive. Small-scale incursions have also been made into Burundi by Hutu exiles operating out of Tanzania. A government minister claims that rebels are receiving arms, training, and safehaven from Rwanda. The BBC reports on government claims that "sophisticated guns and grenades were seized" from rebel forces operating in Cibitoke province. The government establishes a human rights center under the Ministry of Justice with responsibility for educating Burundians regarding their rights and responsibilities in the area of human rights.
May 1992 The government puts down a coup attempt by rebellious soldiers.
Feb 19, 1993 At the OAU meeting in Addis Ababa, Burundian ministers in Addis Ababa seek agreement on the deployment of an OAU force in their country for the protection of government officials.
Jun 1, 1993 Democratic elections are held in which a Hutu, Melchoir Ndadaye, wins the presidency with 71 percent of the vote, mostly from Hutus. Thus the ruling Tutsi elite are clearly rejected by the electorate (the Tutsi dominated UPRONA loses to the Front for Democracy in Burundi - FRODEBU). In the weeks following his victory, Ndadaye seeks to transforms the country's political structures by naming a female Tutsi Prime Minister and opening the government to all groups. Nine out of 23 cabinet seats are held by Tutsis.
Jun 3, 1993 Rwandan (Hutu) president Habayarimana salutes (Hutu) Ndadaye after his victory in the presidential election.
Jun 4, 1993 Tutsi students and civil servants demonstrate in Bujumura, the capital, to protest the "ethnic sentiments" of the vote.
Jun 18, 1993 President Ndadaye's FRODEBU sweeps legislative elections winning 65 of 81 seats in parliament.
Jul 1993 A coup is attempted by supporters of the former (Tutsi) president from the Second Commando Battalion.
Oct 21 - Dec 31, 1993 Disaffected military forces revolt, resulting in the death of President Ndadaye (a Hutu). Clashes between Hutus and Tutsi, including Tutsi-dominated military units, begin. After massacres occur, the UN refuses to send peacekeepers to Burundi. In the Security Council, the US argues against such a mission, fearing it will be an open-ended commitment with no definite plan for withdrawal. Three waves of killings are reported: Tutsi soldiers against Hutu civilians, Hutus against Tutsi, and Tutsi against Hutus. Both Hutus and Tutsis engage in the massacre of innocent civilians with an estimated number of deaths of 150,000 plus an additional 800,000 to one million refugees fleeing into Rwanda, Tanzania, Zaire. 100,000 are internally displaced. The coup receives widespread condemnation and quickly collapses. Loyal military officers urge civilians to resume control. A period of extreme unease with isolated killings prevails. The coup attempt is strongly condemned by the UN, OAU, and EC, which threatened sanctions. The CEPGL (a regional economic cooperation union) also endorses dispatching a multi-national force of African troops to help restore order in Burundi.
Oct 22, 1993 Ugandan President Museveni blames foreign pressure for bringing about the coup in Burundi.
Oct 28, 1993 France offers military advisors to the Burundi government to help set up a new security system.
Oct 30, 1993 OAU Secretary General Salim, on a trip to Burundi, states that sooner or later foreign troops will be needed to protect the government.
Nov 1, 1993 Burundi asks for 1,000 OAU troops as a protection force. Later in the month the OAU dispatches a small force to Burundi to protect the government and the UN sends a fact finding mission to clarify the events surrounding the coup. The Burundi army displays its political clout and challenges the government's call for a foreign military force, denouncing it as external intervention in Burundi affairs. The Tutsi Prime Minister, Kinigi, says that the government does not control the security forces.
Nov 16, 1993 Following ethnic clashes, UN envoys report that Tutsi ministers, not fearing the army, have returned home while Hutu ministers have remained in hiding.
Nov 20, 1993 The British charity Actionaid warns of a Bosnia or Somalia like tragedy in Burundi. Communications Minister Ngedahayo says that the proposed OAU force of 180 troops is too small for their mission of protecting government officials.
Nov 22, 1993 Burundi accuses Rwanda of supporting (Hutu) rebels.
Nov 27, 1993 Belgium decides to provide logistical support to the OAU forces planned for Burundi.
Dec 1993 An OAU summit decides to send a protection force to Burundi. Agence France Presse reports that 700,000 Burundian are refugees in Rwanda, Tanzania, and Zaire (500,000 in Tanzania).
Jan 1994 The Catholic Church, often divided along ethnic lines during violence, brokers a constitutional settlement between competing factions. After prolonged negotiations the Hutu dominated FRODEBU (Front for Democracy in Burundi, legalized in 1992) and the Tutsi dominated UPRONA (Party for Unity and Progress in Burundi, the former ruling group) agree to share power. Under the accord, Hutu Cyprien Ntaryamira becomes President, but substantial concessions are made for UPRONA representation at the highest levels of government. OAU General Secretary Salim arrives in Burundi to convince Tutsi leaders to accept an OAU protection force for government ministers. Meanwhile, security forces, allegedly sympathetic to protesters, do not clear barricades erected by opposition forces in the capital to protest possible foreign intervention in Burundi.
1994 The US Committee for Refugees estimates that there are 400,000 internally displaced people in Burundi, with an additional 180,000 Burundi refugees in Zaire and 150,000 Burundi refugees in Tanzania.
Jan 25, 1994 The government backs away from supporting an OAU intervention force, reportedly in response to strong protests by the army and opposition groups.
Feb 1994 After debates in 1993 on dispatching peacekeeping forces to both Rwanda and Burundi (a small contingent is deployed in Rwanda and later withdrawn), the OAU sets aside plans for a peacekeeping unit for Burundi. Foreign Minister Ngendayayo calls on the West to support OAU actions in Burundi designed to prevent further violence. An international committee of inquiry states that following the October 1993 attempted coup, 25,000 to 50,000 people were killed in ethnic clashes.
Mar 1994 The army chief refuses to furnish an ethnic breakdown of his troops and claims that in ongoing communal clashes the military remains neutral. Press stories claim that Rwandan Tutsi refugees are assisting the Burundi army (composed of Tutsis) to commit killings in the capital.
Mar 8, 1994 Amnesty International urges Burundi to set up a commission of inquiry into mass killings.
Mar 24, 1994 (Hutu) President Ntaryamira accuses the army of stirring up trouble with Hutu elements. The army reportedly protests the government's decision to punish officers involved in violence against Hutus.
Mar 30, 1994 The government fails to support a call by Interior and Public Security Minister Leonard Nyangoma (probably a Hutu) for an international peacekeeping force for the country.
Apr 1994 Presidents Ntaryamira of Burundi and Habyarimana of Rwanda (both Hutus) are killed when the airplane they are aboard is shot down by a rocket near Kigali, capital of Rwanda. While genocide sweeps through Rwanda, smaller-scale and sporadic violence occurs in Burundi. Following the assassination of President Ntaryamira, media reports cite the existence of an apparently newly formed Hutu "Armee Populaire" (People's Army) operating in the Kamenge region north of the capital. In many cases, the sinister strategy of Hutu extremists is to target Tutsi civilians with the knowledge that the Tutsi security forces will respond with massive attacks on Hutu civilians, thus provoking a cycle of violence. Hutu and Tutsi extremists each circulate tracts in the capital urging rejection of any compromise with the other side.
Apr 6, 1994 UN says that 375,000 Burundians are registered as refugees in Zaire, Rwanda, and Tanzania.
Apr 29, 1994 The Hutu "Armee Populaire" (People's Army) is reportedly operating in the Kamenge region north of the capital.
May 1, 1994 10,000 persons are arrested in a massive operation to confiscate illegal arms in the Kamenge region. The government claims the measure is aimed at checking tribal violence. News services do not report on the ethnicity of those arrested, although the area is a Hutu stronghold.
May 17, 1994 An Amnesty International statement regarding the situation in Burundi is issued from Brussels. Amnesty denounces the lack of attention to human rights violations, but does not call for military intervention.
Sep 1994 Following a lengthy series of talks begun after the assassination of the president in October 1993, an agreement is reached on the appointment of Hutu Sylvestre Ntibantuganya as the new president. In parliament, FRODEBU (majority Hutu) controls 65 out of a total of 85 seats, while UPRONA (majority Tutsi) has 16 delegates. This distribution of deputies reflects the results of July 1993 parliamentary elections in which the FRODEBU won 80 percent of the vote.
1995 Throughout the year, an extremely chaotic security situation prevails amid a low intensity ethnic war between Hutu rebels and the Tutsi-dominated army and security units. News services report individual killings and assassinations of government officials at the local, provincial, and national levels. Small scale massacres of up to 400 (including women and children) also occur routinely (Hutus and Tutsis are both perpetrators and victims of such killings, but the Hutus seem to be the victims more often than are Tutsis). Hutu exiles from Rwanda (veteran perpetrators of the 1994 genocide) operate alongside Burundi's Hutu rebels. Tutsi militias and military forces also engage in killings of Hutu civilians, sometimes separately and perhaps in concert.
1995 Only one suburb of the capital remains ethnically mixed.
Jun 27, 1995 The EU calls for the convocation of a peace conference on Burundi under the auspices of the UN and OAU.
Jul 11, 1995 UPRONOA, Burundi's chief Tutsi opposition political force, states that it will not participate in peace talks aimed at ending the country's communal warfare.
Jul 17, 1995 UN General Secretary Boutros Ghali announces that the UN will conduct an inquiry into the violence in Burundi.
Aug 1995 A high ranking Hutu politician alleges that Tutsi extremists are instituting a coordinated plan to assassinate Hutu officials at the provincial and local levels.
Oct 27, 1995 President Ntibantunhanya of Burundi asks former US President Jimmy Carter to convene a peace conference on his country as soon as possible.
Nov 21, 1995 Jimmy Carter states that he has received the support of the government of Burundi for a draft agenda for a summit meeting on ethnic conflict in Rwanda and Burundi.
Dec 1995 A report by the medical charity Doctors Without Frontiers states that hundreds of people are dying each month in ethnic clashes, with women and children constituting forty percent of the casualties. In addition to random acts of violence, there is some evidence of a more systematic pattern of murders.
1996 Analysts claim that violence in Burundi takes between 1,000 and 2,500 lives each month. 400,000 Burundians are internally displaced, with a further 350,000 as refugees in Zaire and Tanzania. Increasingly well organized Hutu rebels operating out of Zaire stage deep raids into Burundi.
Feb 22, 1996 The OAU's Committee for Conflict Prevention, Management and Resolution releases a statement crediting international pressure with preventing a total collapse in Burundi.
Mar 19, 1996 Officials of Burundi's National Council for Communication ban several publications they deem to be inciting ethnic hatred (three of the publications are pro-Tutsi and four are pro-Hutu).
May 1996 The UN notes that the security situation in Burundi is deteriorating, while the US State Department declares that the violence in Burundi constitutes genocide. In a controversial statement, US Ambassador to Burundi Robert Krueger estimates that 2,500 people are dying per month in the violence.
Jun 11, 1996 Tanzania's President Julius Nyerere, mediating between rival Burundi ethnic factions, calls on the country's Tutsi minority to make political concessions to Hutus.
Jul 1 - Aug 31, 1996 In follow-up operations after the military coup, government troops kill some 6,000 Hutus according to Amnesty International.
Jul 10, 1996 An OAU summit meeting endorses dispatching a peacekeeping force to Burundi composed of troops from neighboring states. The initiative is somewhat unusual for the degree of consensus found in the OAU, which in previous years strongly opposed intervention in the internal affairs of member states.
Jul 20, 1996 Hutu rebels massacre about 300 internally displaced Tutsis.
Jul 25, 1996 The military, on the pretext of stabilizing the security situation, carries out a coup d'etat against Ntibantunganya. Burundi's former military ruler, Buyoya, again takes power. The coup is met with a mixed international reaction: both Belgium and the US negotiate with the coup leaders, but by the end of the month economic sanctions are imposed on Burundi by other African countries.
Sep 1996 There are an estimated 400,000 internally displaced persons in Burundi (USCR estimate).
Sep 9, 1996 Burundi’s Archbishop Joachim Ruhuna, a Tutsi, and several others were killed in an ambush. The government and CNDD (National Council for the Defense of Democracy), an armed Hutu group, blamed each other for the attack. Ruhuna had condemned all violence in the country.
Sep 23, 1996 Lt. Col. Longin Minani, spokesman for the army, said sanctions were hurting the weak and the country would soon explode if they were not lifted. The embargo was imposed by states in the region and cut off oil imports and blocked coffee exports. FRODEBU Secretary General Augustin Nzojibwami said that the party was committed to peaceful resolution of the conflict in Burundi. FRODEBU split after the July coup. One faction elected rebel leader Leonard Nyangoma as its president and endorsed armed struggle against the government. The other faction, led by Nozojibwami, backed exiled party president Jean Minani and is committed to peaceful resolution of the conflict.
Oct 1, 1996 The FDD(Forces for the Defence of Democracy)/CNDD said it would only talk about a cease-fire if the rule of law and democracy were first restored in Burundi. Large areas of the country are no-go areas plagued by violence.
Oct 4, 1996 Tanzanian President Benjamin Mkapa appealed to the international community to provide greater assistance to care for the more than 1 million Rwandan and Burundian refugees in his country.
Oct 10, 1996 President Buyoya held talks with international mediator Julius Nyerere in northern Tanzania. He had agreed to restore the national assembly and lifted a ban on political parties last month.
Oct 12, 1996 African leaders agreed to maintain their economic embargo against Burundi despite suggestions from the United States that sanctions should be eased. They had received a letter from President Buyoya which stated that he was committed to unconditional negotiations with the CNDD and other armed Hutu groups.
Oct 18, 1996 Government spokesman Balthazar Habonimana said regional sanctions against Burundi imposed in August have led to a 30% decline in food production and a 10% decline in industrial growth.
Nov 15, 1996 Residents of Buchaganzwa in eastern Burundi said that 250 civilians were killed when the army launched an attacked aimed at Hutu rebels. The massacre also caused thousands of residents to flee to Tanzania. Officials in Bujumbura said only 19 people were killed in the area. The government also refuted an Amnesty International report that security forces had killed 1000 civilians during November-December, including 500 at a Pentecostal Church at Nyarurama in the southeast.
Jan 6, 1997 Medecins Sans Frontieres pulled out of Kayanza province because of the lack of security in the area.
Jan 15, 1997 An army spokesman confirmed that soldiers shot dead 126 Hutu refugees who had been expelled from Tanzania and tried to escape from a detention center. Seven soldiers were arrested in the incident.
Jan 30, 1997 President Buyoya promised to investigate reports by the United Nations that the army killed 1000 civilians in November-December 1996. Increased violence in Burundi in recent months was accompanied by an army policy to forcefully relocate Hutu peasants and an increased use of mines in the conflict. Another report said 3000 had been killed in the November-December 1996 period.
Feb 6, 1997 One hundred fifty Hutus have died of disease recently in a relocation camp in Ruhinga north of Bujumbura. Aid agencies reported that more than 150,000 people have been grouped in relocation camps in the past month. Ostensibly, the army is moving Hutus into the camps to protect them.
Feb 19, 1997 Augustin Nzogibwani, Secretary General of FRODEBU, was released from prison. He was placed under house arrest 9 February and transferred to Bujumbura’s central prison on 11 February.
Feb 21, 1997 At least 1700 Burundians refugees left a camp in southwest Rwanda and returned to Burundi’s Cibitoke province, considered the most dangerous province in the country. The UNHCR maintains a policy of not helping to repatriate Burundian refugees because civilians are frequently massacred.
Mar 18, 1997 The army claimed it killed 50 rebels in Muhutu area south of Bujumbura. The Minister of the Interior and Public Security released a list of people arrested and accused of involvement in a plot to assassinate President Buyoya. Of those arrested, five are members of Parena led by former military ruler Jean Bagaza, who has been under house arrest since January; two are soldiers, and one is Rwandan.
Apr 1997 Regional governments eased sanctions against Burundi and invited President Buyoya to their regional summit in Arusha.
Apr 2, 1997 Fifty-seven villagers were killed in fighting in Rumonge. The army and rebels opened fire on one another and the villagers got caught between the warring sides.
Apr 9, 1997 Four people were arrested after police uncovered a store of arms and ammunition, including mines. Bujumbura has been the site of a series of mine attacks since March in which 15 people have been killed and 12 injured.
May 1997 Fighting has been intense around Rutana in recent days. An attack on a school in early May resulted in the deaths of 36 students. At least 20 villagers were killed and 15 kidnaped in another attack on Rutana by Hutu rebels.
May 6, 1997 State radio said more than 100 rebels were killed in fighting with the military in the south. The radio blamed recent attacks in the south on the Forces for Defense of Democracy.
May 17, 1997 It was revealed that the government and CNDD had been meeting secretly in Rome over the past months under the auspices of Sant’ Egidio Community, a Catholic Peace group. They agreed to work to restore peace through direct talks with a seven point agenda. An accord signed in Rome in March included agreement on the seven points: restoration of constitutional and institutional order; issued relating to the armed forces and police; a suspension of hostilities; justice, including the creation of an international tribunal to judge acts of genocide and political crimes; identification and involvement of other parties in the peace process; a cease-fire; and guarantees of how the overall accord should be carried out and respected.
May 22, 1997 Foreign Minister Lud Rukingama said Burundi’s warring factions would meet under the auspices of UNESCO in Geneva in June to discuss and end to the fighting.
May 23, 1997 The CNDD turned down the invitation to a peace conference in Geneva in June. It said it was already in talks with the government and did not believe UNESCO was the right negotiator for the conflict.
May 27, 1997 A wing of FRODEBU, led by Jean Minani who is based in Tanzania, threatened to resort to force to restore constitutional rule to Burundi. FRODEBU’s other wing led by Leonard Nyangoma is fighting the Tutsi-dominated army in Burundi. The UNHCR reported the massacre of 60 people, mostly returning refugees, in northwest Cibitoke province on May 18. Burundi’s military continues to forcibly relocate tens of thousands of Hutus.
Jun 1, 1997 Burundi called for a total lifting of sanctions against it. External Affairs and Cooperation Minister Luc Rukingama said the sanctions were hurting civilians and hindering peace negotiations.
Jun 3, 1997 Fighting on the outskirts of Bujumbura has intensified over the past few weeks between government troops and rebel FDD forces.
Jun 7, 1997 Deposed President Slyvestre Ntibantunganya came out of hiding. His appearance is likely to rekindle the struggle within the FRODEBU leadership which split following his overthrow.
Jun 14, 1997 The governor of Cibitoke Province has said that the security situation in the province had greatly improved in some communes. There have been arrests of Interahamwe militiamen in the region, but Mabayi, Murwi, and Buganda communes remained rebel strongholds.
Jul 14, 1997 Over two hundred people were killed in clashes between Palipehutu and CNDD (FDD) forces in Murwi commune. Survivors have taken refuge at Musigati in Bubanza Province. Witnesses said the FDD forces had looted gold belonging to Palipehutu in March-April, then went south to engage government forces. After they suffered heavy losses against the government, they returned to Bubanza and Cibitoke where Palipehutu forces refused them entry. Clashes then began. This is the first time rebels from these two group have fought each other.
Jul 17, 1997 The United Nations Security Council discusses establishing an international criminal tribunal for Burundi. It would be responsible for judging crimes of genocide and political assassinations carried out since the country gained independence.
Jul 28, 1997 Burundian parties agreed to peace talks to be chaired by Julius Nyerere and to take place in mid-August. However, the talks never got under way because of the refusal of the Burundian government to participate after rising tensions between Burundi and Tanzania.
Aug 1, 1997 Six men were hanged for their participation in ethnic massacres. They were the first hangings since Buyoya took power. However, more than 120 people have been sentenced to death. One sticking point in peace negotiations has been rebel leaders’ insistence on a general amnesty for Hutu guerrillas. The government has been gaining ground against the rebels in recent months. Contributing to its success has been the loss of a rear base for rebels since the civil war began in Zaire in October 1996, and the establishment of armed camps for peasants in northern and central Burundi. Since February 1996, hundred of thousands of Hutu peasants have been placed in these camps by the government, preventing rebel militiamen from hiding within the population. Fighting continued between Palipehutu and FDD forces in Bubanza Province. Ten thousand people have fled the fighting, and hundreds have reportedly been killed.
Aug 28, 1997 Tanzanian soldiers killed 20 Burundian government troops who planted land mines along the border. There was no independent confirmation of the report from either country. Last week, Burundi accused Tanzania of harboring Hutu rebels among the 300,000 refugees in the country. Tanzania accused Burundi of crossing into its territory in pursuit of rebels. Tensions between the two countries have risen since Tanzania put pressure on regional government to continue economic sanctions against Burundi. This led to Buyoya to refuse to participate in peace talks with rebel groups this month.
Sep 13, 1997 Twenty-nine people were killed and 25 wounded in Bubanza province when Palipehutu attacked villagers there. Over 20,000 villagers have fled to Bubanza town in recent weeks to escape rebel attacks.
Sep 20, 1997 Authorities arrested UPRONA party leader Charles Mukasi as he held a press conference. UPRONA opposes negotiations between the government and rebel groups.
Sep 24, 1997 Augustin Nzojibwani, Secretary-General of FRODEBU, survived injury as gunmen opened fire on his car.
Sep 26, 1997 Buyoya has opened a dialogue with Hutu rebel groups in Paris under the auspices of UNESCO. However, armed clashes remain a daily feature in Burundi.
Oct 6, 1997 The government announced it had freed more than 3000 people taken hostage by armed gangs in Cibitoke Province. The armed men withdrew towards the hills bordering on Buganda.
Nov 17, 1997 Over 1100 Rwandan refugees arrived in southern Rwanda after fleeing fighting between the government and Palipehutu rebels in Cibitoke Province in northwest Burundi.
Nov 22, 1997 FROLINA spokesman Venerand Ndegeya announced that its armed wing, the People’s Liberation Army, had resumed its armed struggle against the government. FROLINA had been observing an 18 month unilateral cease-fire in order to allow international mediation to work. The group claimed to have the localities of Mukereyi, Gisenga, Kabonga, Gihoro, Nyabigina, Gasaba, and Mugina under its control.
Dec 6, 1997 A dispute between FRODEBU and the government began when the party reappointed to its leadership persons not currently residing in the country. Party leader Jean Minani lives in Dar es Salaam where he is illegally occupying the Burundian embassy. Burundi’s law governing political parties states that party leaders must reside in Burundi. The government suspended the party for 10 months, and the case has been referred to the Supreme Court.
Dec 8, 1997 The Burundian army captured a number of Ugandan mercenaries fighting alongside rebels in Cibitoke and Gitega provinces.
Jan 12, 1998 The government denied accusations that it carried out a massacre at Rukaramu on 1 January 1998. At least 280 people, Hutus, were killed. Most people were killed by blows from machetes or hoes, not by bullets, supporting the government claim that the rebels were the perpetrators. The CNDD has called for an international inquiry into the massacre, but the Burundi Human Rights League has blamed the CNDD for the killings.
Jan 20, 1998 Rebel attacks have intensified since the beginning of the year around the capital Bujumbura. At lease 82 rebels and 7 soldiers were killed in clashes last week. Rebels hold no territory nor have they captured any strategic points in the country despite operating in an environment with most of the population sympathetic to their cause.
Feb 3, 1998 Human Rights Watch has asserted that Tanzania has been supplying the CNDD with arms from South Africa.
Feb 21, 1998 Regional governments again renewed sanctions against the Burundian government.
Feb 27, 1998 Over two hundred seventy Burundian refugees left Tanzania for Burundi following an agreement between the two governments and the UNHCR. Over 180 returned to their homes in January.
Mar 18, 1998 Army spokesman Lt-Col. Isaie Nibizi told the press that arms, including land mines, belonging to the CNDD had been seized by Zambian police in Lusaka.
Mar 27, 1998 Security personnel closed press offices, seized vehicles and papers of press personnel, and harassed the Director General of INABU, the national printing company.
Mar 30, 1998 The government lifted a travel ban against the President of the National Assembly, Leonce Ngendakumana, after dropping charges of genocide against him.
Apr 28, 1998 The International Crisis Group released the report “Burundi Under Siege”. Among it’s findings: -Since the 1996 coup, there has been a radicalization of some elements of the army and Tutsi community who fear pressure from the region may force the government to make concession compromising the security of the Tutsi minority; -The government’s political base has fragmented with deep divisions within UPRONA. Those who oppose negotiations with rebels are led by Charles Mukasi; -The military presently has about 60,000 men and its equipment is sophisticated; -About 350,000 people were in armed camps during 1997. The government decided to let some people back into their villages in late 1997, but many farmers found their land had been occupied in their absence, so most returned to the camps or fled to Bujumbura; -The civil war in Zaire forced rebel groups based there to flee and move their bases to Tanzania. The rebels are reportedly becoming less popular with the general population since being cut off from their supplies and using pressure tactics on civilians in order to maintain their positions. Armed groups are becoming more violent and uncontrolled; -There are divisions within FRODEBU and the CNDD, and between FRODEBU and CNDD and between CNDD, Palipehutu and FROLINA; -Collaboration between rebel groups in the Great Lakes region appears to be on the rise. Rebel groups cooperating include Burundian groups ex-FAR, Interahamwe, Mobutu’s ex-special presidential division, Mai-Mai warriors of Kivu, and Ugandan rebels.
May 15, 1998 Army spokesman Isaie Nibizi said the security situation throughout Burundi had improved markedly due to dwindling arms supplies and internal disputes within rebel groups. A rift within the CNDD emerged last week when a group of top CNDD officials announced they had toppled chairman Leonard Nyagoma who they accused of corruption and dictatorship for sacking a number of top CNDD members in November. A split was also reported in FRODEBU. A group in Burundi led by Leonce Ngendakumana reportedly favors negotiations with the government while the wing led by Minani in exile opposes negotiations. Fighting between the CNDD and Palipehutu has continued over the past several months in Cibitoke and Buyanza provinces.
May 20, 1998 Buyoya and all rebel factions leaders have agreed to attend peace talks scheduled for 15 June 1998.
Jun 21, 1998 The Arusha peace talks got underway 15 June. These are the first all-party peace talks since the 1996 military coup, and include the five main political parties, three rebel groups, civic and religious organizations, and outside mediators. At the end of the first session, all groups attending had agreed to a cease-fire to begin by 21 July 1998 when the second round of peace talks are to begin. An agenda for the next round was also agreed to. In mid-June, Buyoya named a 22 member cabinet, including 12 Hutus, in the hopes that the new political arrangement would convince regional leaders to lift economic sanctions. The external peace process is running parallel to an internal peace dialogue between Buyoya and the parliament. A transition constitution was agreed to 6 June 1998 and provides for an enlarged parliament (121 MPs) and two vice presidents while reducing the overall size of the government.
Jun 26, 1998 The FDD rejected the Arusha-agreed cease-fire by July 20th as unrealistic. The FDD and CNDD are at odds over participation in the Arusha peace talks. The FDD is at the talks as an unofficial delegations without the right to sign any agreements. While Buyoya’s delegation signed the cease-fire agreement, it also added a caveat effectively exempting the army from any cease-fire.
Feb 22 - May 2, 2004 67 people were arrested for being members of the militant PA-Amasekanya Tutsi organization. (“Country reports on Human Rights Practices-2004”. United States Department of State. 28 Feb. 2005. http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/hrrpt/2004/41591.htm [accessed 06/04/07])
May 1 - Aug 31, 2004 Members of the Tutsi political party, PARENA, were arrested. (“Report 2005: Burundi.” Amnesty International. Dec. 2004. http://web.amnesty.org/report2005/bdi-summary-eng [accessed 06/04/07])
May 4, 2004 49 Tutsi youth are arrested under suspicions of leading a rebellionas they were found with weapons and military uniforms. One arrested was tortured in order to get him to implicate others in the Tutsi rebellion. (“Interrogations et inquiétudes au Burundi sur une rébellion tutsie. » Agence France Presse. 9 May 2004.)
Jul 9 - Aug 2, 2004 Prisoners, Hutu and Tutsi go on a hunger strike in the prison system to protest their status as political prisoners. 4,000 in total went on strike including Tutsi members of “sans échec”. (“Burundi; More Prisoners Join Strike Action By Detained Soldiers.” Africa News. 22 July 2004.)
Aug 11, 2004 Ten Tutsi parties boycott the signing of the power sharing agreement in Burundi after fear that Tutsis would lose political power. (“Approbation d'un accord sur le partage du pouvoir au Burundi.” Agence France Presse. 18 Aug. 2004.)
Sep 1, 2004 - Oct 31, 2005 An estimated 1,800 Tutsis flee to Rwanda from Burundi due to fear of violence. (“Plus de 1 800 Tutsis fuient au Rwanda; BURUNDI. » Le Figaro. 7 Oct. 2004.)
Oct 1, 2004 - Nov 30, 1965 Civil war follows a revolt by Hutu military units. In Muramvya province (near Rwanda) Hutu peasants kill about 500 Tutsi. Hutus burn Tutsi houses near the capital. Most Hutu members of the army and gendarmerie are killed, as are Hutu political leaders. Uncoordinated Hutu attacks are followed by organized Tutsi counter-strikes. The number of Hutu deaths is estimated at 5,000. By the end of 1965, a distinct Hutu political consciousness crystallizes in the face of their increasing exclusion from politics.
Nov 10, 2004 The Tutsi Vice President was dismissed by the President after he raised doubts about bringing the new constitution to a referendum. (Ndikumana, Esdras. “Le numéro 2 du Burundi "limogé" pour "sabotage" de l'action présidentielle. » Agence France Presse. 10 Nov. 2004. )
Feb 16, 2005 Tutsi prisoners accused of involvement in the Cibitoke Tutsi rebellion, wrote to the UN after having been held in jail for 245 days without trial. They also claim to have been severely tortured in custody as they were forced to admit guilt and implicate others. (“Burundi: "Tutsi rebel groups" detainees send letters to UN official.” BBC Worldwide Monitoring. 19 Feb. 2005.)
Feb 27, 2005 Burundians approve a new constitution containing power-sharing provisions for Hutus and Tutsis. In this agreement, Hutus will control 60% of the National Assembly and Tutsis, 40%, whereas they will both have 50-50 representation in the Senate. (« Développement Référendum au Burundi: Oui massif pour la nouvelle Constitution. » SDA - Service de base français. 1 Mar. 2005.)
Feb 27 - Mar 11, 2005 UNHCR estimates that about 600 Tutsis fled Burundi for Rwanda after receiving death threats. (“ Plus de 800 Burundais se sont réfugiés au Rwanda, selon le HCR.” Xinhua News Agency – French. 11 Mar. 2005.)
Aug 30, 2005 One Tutsi and one Hutu are both named to two vice-presidential seats as is stipulated in the new constitution. (“Vice-présidents votés au Burundi. » Libération. 30 Aug. 2005.)
Oct 14, 2005 Authorities banned the sale and publicity for a book published by the Tutsi-led PA-Amasekanya. (“Country reports on Human Rights Practices-2005”. United States Department of State. 8 Mar. 2006. http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/hrrpt/2005/61557.htm [accessed 06/04/07])
Nov 19, 2005 Authorities arrest 10 youths for participation in a PA-Amasekanya meeting. (“Country reports on Human Rights Practices-2005”. United States Department of State. 8 Mar. 2006. http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/hrrpt/2005/61557.htm [accessed 06/04/07])
Apr 28, 2006 Following a new law banning cattle in Bujumbura beginning in May, Tutsi herders petitioned the government complaining that this new policy would harm only Tutsis. (“Un arrêté d'expulsion contre les vaches de Bujumbura sème la discorde.” Agence France Presse. 28 Apr. 2006.)
May 22, 2006 Three Tutsi human rights activists were arrested on the charges of threatening state security. (“Three rights activists arrested in Burundi.” Agence France Presse. 22 May 2006.)
Aug 1, 2006 The former Tutsi vice-president was arrested with seven others over suspicions of planning a coup.During detention, sources indicate that the Vice President was tortured. (“Burundi; Coup Plotters Or Victims of Oppression?” Africa News. 29 Aug. 2006)

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Information current as of July 16, 2010