EMERGENCY STATEMENT FROM ICUU REGARDING PERSECUTION OF UNITARIANS IN BURUNDI
EMERGENCY STATEMENT FROM
INTERNATIONAL COUNCIL OF UNITARIANS AND UNIVERSALISTS
REGARDING PERSECUTION OF UNITARIANS IN BURUNDI
Within the context of extreme civil unrest in Burundi, on October 22nd, the Unitarian Church of Burundi (the Assemblée des chrétiens unitariens du Burundi) was attacked and ransacked, with bullets fired into walls and doors and money stolen. Members of the church were questioned by government officials who visited on a Sunday. On November 16th, the minister of the church, the Rev. Fulgence Ndagijimana, was arrested from the church at gunpoint, taken into police custody and interrogated severely, regarding the activities of his church. He was threatened with physical harm and death. At the moment he remains in custody, with other members of the church also being questioned.
The International Council of Unitarians and Universalists, along with our member groups and partners around the world, is calling upon the Burundian government to cease these activities immediately, which we interpret as persecution for reasons of faith.
Unitarians and Unitarian Universalists in the USA, the United Kingdom, Canada, Romania and beyond are united in concern for the Unitarians of Burundi.
We call upon the government of Burundi to immediately cease and desist the persecution of the Unitarian Church of Burundi and its members stemming from reasons of their faith. We call for the immediate release the minister of that congregation, the Rev. Fulgence Ndagijimana, from police custody. Unitarians and Unitarian Universalists around the world stand in solidarity with our brothers and sisters in Burundi, who are dedicated as we are to religious freedom, and a civil society in which all persons are respected and valued.
International Council of Unitarians and Universalists
Canadian Unitarian Council
Hungarian Unitarian Church
General Assembly of Unitarian and Free Christian Churches (United Kingdom)
Unitarian Universalist Association (United States of America)
The Rev. Fulgence Ndagijimana is minister to the Unitarian Church in Bujumbura, Burundi (the Assembly of Unitarian Christians of Burundi). He is also an elected member-at-large of the Executive Committee of the International Council of Unitarians and Universalists, and an ICUU consultant to U-U groups in Africa.
“When strangers meet, endless possibilities emerge:
New experiences, new ways of understanding, and new ways of taking action.
When strangers meet, each pays special attention to the other.
Each is called to serve something larger than the self.
Today, this morning, let’s light the chalice:
For openness, for willingness to grow,
For rich curiosity, and for common purpose.”
We are delighted to report that the Rev. Fulgence Ndagijimana is no longer in police custody in Burundi and he has travelled to another country.
Let us be thankful to God and to our sisters and brothers for this blessing. So many of us working together has made a difference.
We give Fulgence a chance to catch his breath and know we will hear from him soon.
He is grateful to everyone who supported him by signing the petition, writing letters and making donations to see his release.
Let us be restrained and not overly triumphant in our response to this wonderful news, particularly in postings on social media.
The charges against Fulgence remain under investigation and we need to remember the congregation of Unitarians remaining in Burundi. Sensitivity to the impact our comments might on them is important.
We still need to stand on the side of love for those of our faith and for all the people in Burundi. There is much more to do and say.
ICUU has formed a working group to focus on these concerns in partnership with Burundi Unitarians, the UUA, the CUC and others. You will hear more from us.
Rev Steve Dick
International Council of Unitarians and Universalists (ICUU)
Phone: (USA) 617 939 9171 (UK) +44 7921 822585