Several students' representatives at the University of Burundi, who had been leading a strike, have been arrested on Wednesday (29 March) by agents of Burundi's national intelligence service (SNR), according to multiple reports.
Despite fears of a crackdown by the authorities on dissenting voices, students from the country's public universities announced on Friday (24 March) they were embarking on a power struggle to pressure the government into abrogating the new legislation on scholarships.
On 29 March, local media reported Audace Nkunzimana, vice-delegate general of Students of the Institut de Pedagogie Appliquee (IPA) of the Universite du Burundi was taken away at 15:00 local time on the Rohero Campus, according to witnesses.
Nkunzimana, who represented bio-chemistry students, is one of the signatories of a letter addressed to President Pierre Nkurunziza in which some 170 student representatives gave the head of state until 4 April to repeal the decree.
According to Emile Nibasumba, journalist for Radio Publique Africaine (RPA), an independent radio station in Burundi, Nkunzimana was with "other non-identified students" when they were "all embarked in vehicles with tinted windows".
His alleged abduction comes after those of Elysé Dushime, a vice-delegate and accounting/ finance student, and Fabrice Manirakiza , students of the Universite du Burundi who have also been "kidnapped" between 28 and 29 March. Dushime's whereabouts remained unknown as of the evening of 29 March.
A further "six to ten" students were also "abducted" by men wearing police uniform and taken to an unknown destination, journalist Esdras Ndikumana said, quoting student representatives.
Student representatives said they would carry out a general strike until fellow students are released. According to Ndikumana, all the student representatives have now gone into hiding "and are actively sought by the SNR".
The Burundian government no longer tolerates strikes and there are reports trade unionists have been imprisoned. After a failed coup led by a disloyal faction within the army's high command, the government intensified its bloody crackdown on dissidents and most of those arrested or disappeared are young men and women accused of participating in or supporting the opposition, or armed groups.