Burundi: Musician detained for insulting head of state

Cedric Bangirinama, a musician also known as Bangy, was arrested on 27 January 2016 by SNR agents from Burundi’s national intelligence service for statements he made on his personal Facebook account that were deemed “insulting to the head of state”, French-language Burundi news portal Iwacu reported on 2 February 2016.

Witnesses say they saw agents pull Bangy out of an establishment in the Cibitoke district of the country’s capital Bujumbura known for its opposition to current contentious President Pierre Nkurunziza, and drive off in the direction of Kamenge.

The musician was held for three weeks and eventually released on 16 February 2016, Burundi news portal Bishasha.com reported.

Upon his release, Bangy released an official apology via his Facebook account stating that he was sorry for any of his writings that insulted “the country of my ancestors and against high Burundian authorities”. In the apology, Bangy implored his friends to “love our dear country Burundi”, and thanked not only various people for his freedom, but the SNR as well for their “wisdom and compassion” in investigating his case.

Between 2005 and 2010, Bangy made a series of songs praising President Nkurunziza. However, since April 2015, Burundi has been embroiled in political turmoil when the president announced he would run for a third term in office, which is against the constitution, and subsequently won the contested election in July 2015.

Many musicians who once supported the president and his CNDD-FDD party through song and performance refused to do so when he sought his third term, causing many of the musicians to flee the country and seek asylum.

Since the president’s announcement violence has drastically escalated against opposition members and sympathisers, civil society actors, media and artists, among many others, leading to hundreds of deaths and the exodus of nearly 250,000 people to neighbouring countries as of 7 March 2016, according to UNHCR, the United Nations Refugee Agency.

» Read more on how musicians are being affected in Burundi in this Freemuse special report:
Burundi: Musicians menaced, silenced and fleeing the country


» UNHCR – 7 March 2016:
Burundi regional overview

» Bishasha.com – 16 February 2016:
Cedric Bangy has indeed escaped death. He apologises to the people of Burundi and all the high Burundian institutions

» Iwacu – 2 February 2016:
Singer Cedric Bangirinama said Bangy would be in the hands of SNR

Related information

» Freemuse.org – 6 January 2016:
Burundi: Musician shot by police

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