As soon as I get excited about something minor– and let’s face it, the holiday season is full of little tiny things to get excited about– new audiobooks, beautiful holiday light displays, picking out the perfect presents and perfect recipes…the real world catches up with me, whether it’s Donald Trump’s decision to advocate for a blanket ban on all Muslims entering the US for any reason , the victory of the far right in France after a cynical and divisive campaign (NB: The link is to a blog entry published in 2011, but many of the posters that have been floating around for this campaign are equally divisive, although with a female leader I highly doubt they’re still using “Les françaises aux français” as a campaign slogan) or…continuing bad news from Burundi.
The current director of the radio, Anne Niyuhire, my former editor-in-chief Patrick Mitabaro (called “Robert” to protect his privacy earlier in this blog), my ex-boss from the paper, Antoine, Isanganiro reporter Arcade Havyarimana and Innocent Muhozi– head of Radio Renaissance and the Burundian Press Observatory, a leading free speech advocate and one of very few out atheists in Burundi– are now facing extradition requests from the Burundian authorities (link in French) “in connection with the failed coup of May 13, 2015.”
Anne, Patrick, Antoine, Arcade and Muhozi are not rabble-rousers or coup plotters. They are journalists– some of the most dogged and determined journalists in Africa– who were doing their jobs. Anne, Antoine and Patrick have small children.
Antoine is in Belgium; the others are in Rwanda. I can’t see the Belgians granting the Burundian authorities’ request. The others are in Rwanda. I can’t imagine the pressure they must be under, depending on the Rwandan authorities’ dislike of the Nkurunziza government to outweigh its distrust of a free press. What would you bet on?