Thursday, December 18, 2008

Norbert Zongo

Burkina Faso is a peaceful country on a continent in turmoil. Here we are safe from warlords and violent feuds and a culture of respect and peace prevails, despite widespread poverty.
This does not mean Burkina Faso is a model country. It too has its share of political troubles and none of its leaders since the independence in 1960 has come to power without the help of a coup. The person currently in power, Monsieur Blaise Campaoré, has been president since 1987. This despite a constitution which states that a president can only fulfill two terms of five years in office. Because of course, in power means being to get away with changing the constitution in your favor: now the constitution states a president can only fulfill two terms of seven years, and who has done any term of seven years?! Not I, he says…

The current president has been accused of being involved in a political murder case. Ten years ago, a journalist named Norbert Zongo died under suspicious circumstances. Zongo was investigating the death of the driver of the presidents’ brother: Francois Campaoré. This man stole money from Francois Campaoré and paid dearly: he was tortured to death. Zongo, in process of investigating this case, was found burned to death in his car together with three companions. This fact provoked a wave of indignation amongst the Burkinabè, who demanded the truth. However, the government has closed the case, unresolved, and to this day refuses to reopen it. This despite the findings of an Independent Commission of Inquiery which confirm that Zongo was murdered for purely political reasons. But the people of Burkina Faso will not give up. Every year around December 13th there are demonstrations and public actions. Newspapers publish articles, as in the picture above, and students protest. In a peaceful, legal fashion.

I admire the Burkinabè for their perseverance. And their peacefulness, despite the indignation and rage which still burn strong.

And I despise the government for not respecting their legally formulated demand for justice and the truth. Do people really need to use violence to be able to demand their legal rights in this world? The Burkinabè deserve to be treated with the same respect as they treat their government, despite its faults and shortcomings.



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