The UN rights chief today condemned the feared youth wing of Burundi's ruling party for repeatedly calling for the rape and murder of opposition supporters.
Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein said the calls for violence - which often took the form of songs or chants - by members of the Imbonerakure youth wing of the CNND-FDD party amounted to a "campaign of terror."
"The grotesque rape chants by the young men of the Imbonerakure across several provinces in various parts of Burundi are deeply alarming -- particularly because they confirm what we have been hearing from those who have fled Burundi about a campaign of fear and terror by this organised militia," Zeid said in a statement.
The youth wing, whose name means "those who see from afar" in the local Kirundi language, has come under scrutiny since Burundi spiralled into crisis two years ago when President Pierre Nkurunziza launched a bid for a third term in office, sparking street protests and a failed coup attempt.
More than 400,000 people have fled the country since the unrest began and the UN estimates at least 500 people have been killed, though NGOs believe that year-old death toll is an underestimate and the real count could be as many as 2,000 people.
Human Rights Watch has accused the Imbonerakure of being involved in assaults on opposition members, gang-rapes of women and torture, while the UN regularly refers to them as a militia.
Earlier this month, the ruling party was forced to disavow a video that emerged of youth wing members singing "impregnate the opposition so that they give birth to Imbonerakure".
The UN statement said that video was just "the tip of the iceberg" and said similar calls for violence had continued throughout April.
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