The Rector of the University of Burundi has announced on 3 April that the signatories of the strike notice will be punished exemplarily due to the swindle and use of false documents. Burundi University students say University officials only want to persecute them instead of finding solutions to their claims.
“About 7800 students signed the strike notice scheduled on 6 April. Those who were not available gave us their permission to put their cell phone numbers in the place of their signatures”, says one of the Burundi University students’ representatives. This was said when the Rector of University of Burundi, Gaspard Banyankimbona, accused them of swindle and use of false documents while signing the strike notice sent to Burundi President on 24 March.
“The Rector wants to persecute us. He said he would punish us exemplarily though he couldn’t indicate which offence we have committed”, says a student at Burundi University. He also accuses Burundi University administration of being complicit in the arrest of students by agents of the intelligence service. “Twelve of our representatives are detained in unknown dungeons”, he says.
Those students say that the strike will start on 6 April as planned if nothing is done. “Given the absence of consultations and talks between the students and University of Burundi management, nothing will change the deadline set for the strike”, he says.
Gaspard Banyankimbona, Rector of the Burundi University said the signatories of the strike notice will be punished according to the academic regulations and law. “Some of the signatories do not know the content of the strike notice and start to withdraw their signatures. They were manipulated”, said Banyankimbona.
For this University official, it is not easy to identify students who are on strike and those who are not because the University of Burundi is composed of three groups of students. He says the first group is made of students who do not receive the scholarship for academic reasons. The second group is composed of students living outside the campus but who receive the scholarship.
“Both groups say they are ready to receive any kind of funds including the scholarship loan”, says Banyankimbona.
The Rector of the University of Burundi also says the third group is composed of recalcitrant students living on the campus and fed by the university. He says this group is composed of the signatories of the strike notice who are easy to manipulate because it is a small group including all students’ representatives. “They defend their own interests”, says Banyankimbona.