The documentary- Definition of Pain
The Twa, Tutsi, and Hutu peoples have occupied Burundi since the country's formation five centuries ago. Burundi was ruled as a kingdom by the Tutsi for over two hundred years. However, at the beginning of the twentieth century, Germany and Belgium occupied the region, and Burundi and Rwanda became a European colony known as Ruanda-Urundi.
Political unrest occurred throughout the region, in part, because of social differences between the Tutsi and Hutu, provoking civil war in Burundi throughout the middle twentieth century. Presently, Burundi is governed as a presidential representative democratic republic.
Burundi is one of the five poorest countries in the world. It has one of the lowest per capita GDP of any nation in the world. Burundi has a low gross domestic product largely due to civil wars, corruption, poor access to education, and the effects of HIV/AIDS. Burundi is densely populated, with substantial emigration. Cobalt and copper are among Burundi's natural resources. Some of Burundi's main exports include coffee and sugar.
After its defeat in World War I, Germany handed control of a section of the former German East Africa to Belgium. On October 20, 1924, this land, which consisted of modern-day Rwanda and Burundi, became a Belgian League of Nations mandate territory, in practical terms part of the Belgian colonial empire, known as Ruanda-Urundi. However, the Belgians allowed Ruanda-Urundi to continue its kingship dynasty.
Following World War II, Ruanda-Urundi was a United Nations Trust Territory under Belgian administrative authority. During the 1940s, a series of policies caused divisions throughout the country. On October 4, 1943, powers were split in the legislative division of Burundi's government between chiefdoms and lower chiefdoms. Chiefdoms were in charge of land, and lower sub-chiefdoms were established. Native authorities also had powers. In 1948, Belgium allowed the region to form political parties. These factions would be one of the main influences for Burundi's independence from Belgium.
Burundi Independence and civil war
Burundi's push for independence was influenced to some extent by the instability and ethnic persecution that occurred in Rwanda. In November 1959, Rwandese Hutu attacked the Tutsi and massacred them by the thousands. Many Tutsi escaped to Uganda and Burundi to find freedom from persecution. The Hutu took power in Rwanda by winning Belgian-run elections in 1960.
The UPRONA, a multi-ethnic unity party led by Prince Louis Rwagasore and the Christian Democratic Party (PDC) became the most prominent organizations throughout Burundi-Urundi. After UPRONA's victory in legislative elections, Prince Rwagasore was assassinated on October 13 in 1961, allegedly with the help of the Belgian colonial administration.
The country claimed independence on July 1, 1962, and legally changed its name from Ruanda-Urundi to Burundi. Mwami Mwambutsa IV was named king. On September 18, 1962, just over two months after declaring independence from Belgium, Burundi joined the United Nations.
Upon Burundi’s independence, a constitutional monarchy was established and both Hutus and Tutsis were represented in parliament. When King Mwambutsa appointed a Tutsi prime minister, the Hutus, who were the majority in parliament, felt cheated. An ensuing attempted coup by the Hutu-dominated police was ruthlessly suppressed by the Army, then led by a Tutsi officer, Captain Michel Micombero. When the next Hutu Prime Minister, Pierre Ngendandumwe, was assassinated in 1965, Hutus engaged in a series of attacks on Tutsi, which the government repressed ruthlessly, fearing the killings of Tutsis by Hutus, who wanted to follow the "Model Rwanda". The Burundi police and military were now brought under the control of the Tutsi.
Mwambutsa was deposed in 1966 by his son, Prince Ntare V, who claimed the throne. That same year, Tutsi Prime Minister Captain Michel Micombero deposed Ntare, abolished the monarchy, and declared the nation a republic, though it was in effect a military regime.
In 1972, an all Hutu organization known as Umugambwe w'Abakozi b'Uburundi or Burundi Workers' Party (UBU) organized and carried out systematic attacks on ethnic Tutsi with the declared intent of annihilating the whole group. The military regime responded with large-scale reprisals targeting Hutus. The total number of casualties was never established, but estimates for the Tutsi genocide and the reprisals on the Hutus together are said to exceed 100,000 at the very least, with a similar number of asylum-seekers in Tanzania and Rwanda. In 1976, another Tutsi, Colonel Jean-Baptiste Bagaza, led a bloodless coup and promoted various reforms. A new constitution was promulgated in 1981, keeping Burundi a one-party state. In August 1984, Bagaza was elected head of state. During his tenure, Bagaza suppressed political opponents and religious freedoms.
Major Pierre Buyoya, a Tutsi, overthrew Bagaza in 1987 and suspended the constitution, dissolved the political parties, and reinstated military rule under the Military Committee for National Salvation (CSMN). Anti-Tutsi ethnic propaganda disseminated by the remnants of the 1972 UBU, which had re-organized as PALIPEHUTU in 1981, led to killings of Tutsi peasants in the northern communes of Ntega and Marangara in August 1988. The death toll was put at 5,000 by the government, though some international NGOs believe this understates the losses.
The new regime did not unleash harsh reprisals (as in 1972), but the trust it gained was soon eroded when it decreed an amnesty for those who had called for, carried out, and taken credit for the killings on ethnic grounds, which amounts to genocide in international law. Many analysts consider this period as the beginning of the "culture of impunity." But other analysts consider the "culture of impunity" to have had started from 1965 and 1972, when the revolt of a small and identifiable number of Hutus unleashed massive killings of Tutsis on the whole territory.
In the aftermath of the killings, a group of Hutu intellectuals wrote an open letter to Pierre Buyoya, asking for more representation of the Hutus in the administration. The signatories were sent to prison. Nevertheless, only few weeks later, Buyoya appointed a new government with an equal number of Hutu and Tutsi, and a Hutu, Adrien Sibomana, as Prime Minister. Buyoya also created a commission in charge of addressing the issue of national unity. In 1992, a new constitution that provided for multi-party system was promulgated, and a civil war sprang up from Burundi's core.
An estimated 250,000 people died between 1962 and 1993. Since Burundi's independence in 1962, there have been two events called genocides in the country. The 1972 mass killings of Hutus by the Tutsi-dominated army, and the 1993 mass killings of Tutsis by the Hutu populace are both described as genocide in the final report of the International Commission of Inquiry for Burundi presented to the United Nations Security Council in 2002.