Burundi, which NGOs keep assuring us is not at risk of genocide, has seen 250,000 of its citizens flee across the border in the past few months. Worse still, these refugees report that gangs of government-affiliated armed thugs have been following close on their heels, entering displaced person camps and murdering the inhabitants. The Guardian:
The exodus has been large enough for attackers to hide among the crowds along with their targets. Such is the threat – made clear in police and medical reports seen by the Guardian – that some Burundians have been moved to their refugee camp’s only guarded living area in an attempt to keep them safe.
Some say they are being targeted to prevent them from sharing their accounts of abuse in a country hovering on the brink of civil war, where thousands have been abducted, tortured, raped and killed. Others believe they are being singled out by people who want to punish family members active in the opposition.
Almost all say the violence that followed them across the border is even more terrifying than what they endured at home, because now they have nowhere to run.
It’s peculiar, to say the least, that there is no mention of “Hutu” and “Tutsi” in coverage of this story. Burundi, like Rwanda, has a long history of ethnic conflict between the tribes. Burundi’s government is formally a Hutu–Tutsi collaborative effort. But the reality, as the NYT finally reported in February, is that the majority of the government is Hutu, and many of the recent victims have been Tutsis.
Alas, for the victims of the violence and for the stability of Africa, a certain political correctness seems to have descended at least on parts of the continent. As a result, few even mention the possibility of genocide or ethnic conflict. Some defend this silence, claiming it is strategic, and appropriately cautious. It’s what we call the Voldemort theory—the idea that by saying the Dark Lord’s name he will somehow grow stronger. As the casualties mount despite such precautions, we hope well-meaning people start to admit the true ugliness of the situation.