Burundi: Stop Silencing the Media! A Discussion With Eric Manirakiza
On April 29, 2013, Umoja Now hosted a special event at the Media Education Foundation in Northampton, MA. Eric Manirakiza, the Manager and former Editor-in-Chief of African Public Radio (RPA) and correspondent for Voices of America, Burundi discussed the gross human rights violations there, and the government’s repeated efforts to silence him. Manirakiza stated that in 2011 alone, Human Rights Watch reported 160 political assassinations in Burundi. He reported that a new law had also been passed by the Burundian Parliament and Senate which severely restrict press freedoms and free speech. He discussed his current petition on Change.org calling on the international community to put pressure on the Burundian President not to sign this bill into law. Manirakiza also discussed the intricate role of free speech in an open democracy and development.
Pascal Akimana, Executive Director of Umoja Now, conducted a training of trainers on “Masculinity Reflection Group Facilitators” for CARE International (CARE) staff in Niger and Mali. The training took place from March 18-22, 2013 in Niger where the women and men from CARE learned and practiced the strategies and skills for leading these reflection groups. Akimana facilitated the training as a consultant for Men’s Resources International and helped CARE staff develop the capacity to organize, lead and monitor gender transformation activities and discussions for both men and women.
In honor of International Women’s Day, Umoja Now hosted “Engaging Men for Women’s Rights,” a night of performance, film, and discussion at Northampton High School on March 14, 2013. Burundian musician Pascal Mpawenayo kicked off the event with his Burundian song calling for an end to violence against women. The song was sung with a video backdrop of beautiful photos of women and girls and alarming statistics of violence.
The performance was followed by the short documentary film, “A Way to Justice: Engaging Men for Women’s Rights.” Afterward an expert panel discussed the film, and the role of men in ending violence against women. Included on the panel were: Boysen Hodgson of the Mankind Project, Dr. Jill Lewis of Hampshire College, and two men included in the film: James Arana of Men’s Resources International and Pascal Akimana of Umoja Now. Local author Tom Weiner moderated the lively and engaging discussion. Steven Botkin provided introductions to the event, and Anka Mason introduced the film.
Despite the snowy weather, approximately 50 people attended the event.
Pascal Akimana of Umoja Now and Tanzanian Ambassador
Umoja Now Executive Staff all attended the Missing Peace Symposium at the United States Institute for Peace (USIP) from February 14-16 2013. The symposium was a convocation by the USIP, the Human Rights Center at the University of California, Berkeley, the Peace Research Institute Oslo (PRIO), and Stockholm International Peace Research Institute North America (SIPRI North America) of a group of expert scholars, policymakers, practitioners, and military and civil society actors to examine the issue of sexual violence in conflict and post-conflict settings, identify gaps in knowledge and reporting and explore how to increase the effectiveness of current responses to such violence.
George Sagbeh, Chief Prosecutor of Sex Crimes, Liberia; David Tamba, Executive Director of MenEngage-Africa, Sierra Leone; Pascal Akimana, Executive Director of Umoja Now, Burundi.
Veronica Isala Bichatero of EDG Venture Consult- Uganda; Pia Peeters, World Bank-Kenya; Tim Shand, Sonke Gender Justice-South Africa; Pascal Akimana, Umoja Now-Burundi
Umoja Now Executive Director Pascal Akimana conducted workshop trainings in Burundi between and met with leaders of several gender justice organizations, including Care International, during December 2012 and January 2013.
On January 7, 2013, Akimana and Umoja staff, along with leaders from MenEngage and Care International conducted a community violence-prevention raining at Gatumba High School. The initial and grassroots training was aimed at sensitizing the community on issues of gender and inspire self-reflection. The training was well-attended by community leaders, police, and Gatumba citizens, and was comprised equally of men and women. It was so well attended, than many from the community had to be turned away! The response following the training was overwhelming, and the men and women alike asked for more training and for us to return to their community.
Thank you to the UMASS Center for International Education, and all the professional educators that attended Umoja Now’s Peacebuilding training by Kelly and Pascal. It was a great workshop!
Thank you to everyone that turned out to Tugende! at the Bing and making it a great event. Although Umoja Now has a long way to go, with your help we can reach our goal of ending gender inequality!
New Article On Pascal and Umoja Now
December 2, 2012. The fight for gender equality must include men for it to have sustainable success. On this 8th Day of 16 Days of Activism Against Violence Against Women, the Women’s International League of Peace and Freedom published an article discussing the role of men in the campaign, highlighting Pascal’s personal story and his inspired start of Umoja Now. Read more.
Thanks to everyone that came out to our report back and presentation at the Media Education Foundation, and making it a successful event. Thank you for continuing to support us.