At today’s GUE/NGL Group meeting, MEPs familiarised themselves with the current issues occurring in East Africa, and specifically Burundi, thanks to a presentation given by the Chancellor of the East Africa Star University in Cibitoke, Burundi, Dr. Marek Hrubec.
In recent months, violent events in East Africa have erupted again in connection with armed groups in the Democratic Republic of Congo. This violence is a result of long-standing unresolved conflicts and is occasionally manifested in this region by either mass violence or sporadic armed clashes. Ten years after the civil war in Burundi (1993 – 2005) and the Rwandan genocide the political tensions still persist.
The tensions and armed conflicts are insufficiently analysed and resolved because of the fact that Western corporations in Eastern Congo are setting up mines and extract many important minerals (tin, coltan, gold or diamonds) under inhuman working conditions using, in many instances, child labour. The situation in Eastern Congo is chaotic with interventions from mercenaries, Burundian troops, Rwandan troops, Congolese troops, UN peacekeepers or the Mai Mai militia groups.
The current phase of violence in Burundi began last year when the imminent parliamentarian and presidential elections took place. The situation so far can be summed up as following: violent demonstrations, military intervention of Congolese troops in Burundi, military coup, hundreds of dead, hundreds of wounded and more than 200 000 people have emigrated, some high schools and universities have been closed.
The Czech GUE/NGL MEP, Kateřina Konečná, said: “It is very refreshing to have someone to come and talk to us about a situation that he is actively part of. Many times the European Parliament votes on important resolutions without input from the “people on the ground”.”
She continued: “We often talk and defend many human rights abuses but we sometimes forget that there are some areas in the world where the principal human right, the right to life, is not guaranteed.”
Dr. Marek Hrubec is a director of the Centre of Global Studies of the Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic in Prague and also a Chancellor of the East Africa Star University in Burundi. The University was founded in 2012 and is located in North-West of Burundi close to the borders with Congo and Rwanda. Dr. Hrubec is the Czech nominee for the European Citizens’ Prize.