A Burundian opposition group has claimed that hundreds of girls and women, with perceived links to political opponents, have been raped by men belonging to the youth wing of Burundi's ruling CNDD-FDD party since unrest began to flare there in April 2015
Burundi's crisis has killed thousands of people and pits supporters of President Pierre Nkurunziza against those who say that his re-election in July 2015 for a third term violated the nation's constitution.
The opposition Rassemblement des Democrates Burundais (RDB), this week, reiterated that the rape of civilians with perceived links to political opponents by Imbonerakure militiamen, soldiers and policemen has become a weapon of repression used against opponents of Nkurunziza's regime.
"Since 2015, hundreds of women have been raped, often in mass rapes; some have been infected with HIV and others have become pregnant," René Norbert Hagabiyaremye, spokesman of the RDB, said.
"The RDB has already collected testimonies from more than 72 women and girls, some of whom have identified their rapists,"
As previously documented by IBTimes UK, rape victims were – for the most part – members, or suspected supporters, of opposition parties, or whose male relatives are suspected to be opposition activists.
"The RDB condemns this incitement to hate crimes in the strongest terms."
These allegations come weeks after the release of video evidence that show the use of targeted rapes as a weapon by members of the Imbonerakure. While doing so, they sing a song calling for the intimidation of political opponents and an incitement to rape, with verses that say, "Impregnate the rivals (opponents) so they can give birth to Imbonerakure".
Following the release of the video, the ruling CNDD-FDD published a communiqué in which it appears to distance itself from its militia.
Since the end of 2013, human rights organisations in Burundi have been ringing alarm bells about the Imbonerakure's activities, with regards to potential violations
With impunity marking life in today's Burundi – in particular with regards to sexual violence – coordinators of specialist centres for rape victims warn that, since the beginning of the crisis, victims are not receiving adequate treatment and support because of lack of finances. Because of widespread insecurity, staff from theses centres no longer travel across the country to raise awareness about sexual violence.