Opinion makers

All government institutions, including the Presidency of the Republic, have operational websites. People in power successfully learned to tweet and they also post information on Facebook. On the contrary independent opinion makers operating autonomously from the government are facing notable hindrances. For example, according to the issue of International Media Support (IMS) entitled Silence Radio: Les médias burundais pendant la crise électorale de 2015, the site of the independent newspaper Iwacu, which registered more than 100,000 visitors a day during the crisis, is still receiving remarks from the CNC. Radios, TV studios and websites are still trying to make Burundians hear other ideas and as noted in the same IMS issue "some journalists resort to the Internet to provide news and information to their communities. Many Facebook and Twitter accounts have been created. Tele Renaissance has created a YouTube channel."

All propaganda kills freedom, as Christian Kakam says: "the political propaganda in its instrumental action has a liberticidal vocation; its promoters use it to systematically obtain the support of public opinion for some politics or an ideology. To achieve this, freedoms that allow citizens to have a dissenting opinion tend to be reduced to insidiously guide their conduct, while explicitly guiding their choices." (Kakam, Christian Propagande politique et désobéissance civile. De la désobéissance mentale comme rempart contre le harcèlement idéologique et politique. Le Philosophoire, vol 26, no 1, 2006, pp 167-179).

SOS Médias Burundi writes about topics which usually don’t have coverage: imprisonment of opponents, discovery of corpses, forced recruitment by the ruling party, the freezing of the assets of some officials accused by France to have undermined democracy in 2015, the cracking of heavy weapons on the border between Burundi and Rwanda and other information unreported by radios and newspapers.

As mentioned in the Radio chapter, the broadcasts of Voice of America (VOA), suspended for an indefinite period by the government, helped Burundians to form their own opinions through a daily six-hour interactive programming. Balanced programmes realised by the Studio Ijambo were also broadcast by this strongly followed radio, featuring information that the correspondents collected throughout the country and that VOA disseminated.

The BBC, whose operating license was permanently withdrawn, was another tool that helped Burundians organise mental dissent (defined by Kakam as “a means of self-protection against political harassment through discernment and effective deliberation in the choices one makes."), because of the various interactive programs it aired in the national language Kirundi.

The CNC recently threatened to take punitive measures against Radio France Internationale (RFI) after the latter interviewed one very vocal lady harshly criticising the government.