Those of you who have been following my blog as of late know that Radio Isanganiro, the station that so graciously hosted me during my radio internship, was destroyed the day after the failed military coup in Burundi. Not only was Isanganiro destroyed, but three other stations were destroyed by the police and one more by protesters.
I’ve spoken with Anne Niyuhire, the director of the radio. She says every computer screen was bashed in, both mixers destroyed, server and router destroyed, cables cut, cars bashed in and tires slit. No opportunity for destruction was missed, even the windows on the internal doors were broken, and then the studio itself was put under lock and key. Twelve years of work in the name of peace and dialogue disappeared in less than an hour of destruction at the hands of confused and underpaid kids.
After twelve years of work, on Thursday, May 14, Isanganiro fell silent. Later that week I got in touch with Anne, my former boss’s successor. One of her sentences began, “If we restart….”
Many of the journalists briefly fled, but as of now they still attempt to inform the public through social media and their website (link in French), leaving their mark on the 6 per cent of Burundians who have internet access. Anne and my former colleagues still hope to restart one day soon. Although the studio is still under lock and key, the authorities have opened one communal workspace. The destroyed radios, except one, are not allowed access, but it is a sign of a slow but sure rollback of the security measures.
When the studio is unlocked, they won’t be able to report the news right away. Anne and Samson, the financial controller, showed me the inventory. $80,000 dollars in damages and $40,000 in lost revenue.
With the knowledge and moral support of the staff of Radio Isanganiro, the School of Information and Communication of Université Laval and CHYZ 93,4, I have started a crowdfunding campaign to support the displaced journalists as they continue to try to inform the public on social media, repair or replace damaged supplies and pay shipping costs for already-donated supplies.
Here is the provisional campaign page, although a slightly slicker, more professional pitch in English and French is coming in the next week.
We are attempting to raise $12,000. A container of donated supplies will cost between $2000 and $3000. The remaining funds will go to replacing other supplies and supporting families whose sole wage-earners have lost their jobs. Please help if you can. If 1000 people gave $12, we would be there.
As they say in Burundi, Turi kumwe! Let’s do this together! Je suis Isanganiro. Even better: Nous sommes Isanganiro.
Thank you so much.