In Burundi, CPJ award winner-turned-politician is jailed

By Joel Simon/Executive Director on November 10, 2008 5:51 PM ET

Alexis Sinduhije founded Radio Publique Africaine (RPA) in 2001 to bridge Burundi's ethnic divide. Divisions between the Hutu and Tutsi ethnic groups have sparked widespread and lingering violence throughout the country.
 

Breaking from the past, Sinduhije hired former fighters from both ethnic groups at RPA and trained them to be serious and responsible journalists. 

In 1994, CPJ honored Sinduhije with an International Press Freedom Award. During the week he spent with us, we got to know a man of deep principle whose quiet demeanor belies his fierce determination and courage. RPA remains one of the most popular and critical radio stations in Burundi, but government harassment forced Sindhuje into hiding twice in 2006. In 2007, Sinduhije launched his candidacy for president for the country's 2010 elections.

On November 3, he was arrested and charged under an arcane anti-conspiracy law barring meetings of more than three people.

As I told The Washington Post, we recognize that Sinduhije's recent arrest has nothing to do with his journalism. Yet we worry about our friend and colleague and are outraged by his unjust treatment.

Named one of Time magazine's top 100 most influential people, Sinduhije has been a voice of reason and common sense in Burundi. The government may be trying desperately to silence him, but his voice must be heard.


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