Archive for the ‘Burundi’ Category

Burundi – to stop another genocide

By Jonathan Power

November 24, 2015

The United Nations Security Council has adopted a resolution strongly condemning the escalating violence in Burundi. It paves the way for the UN to send in thousands of blue-helmeted peacekeepers.

The resolution, which was passed unanimously, condemns the wave of killings, arrests and human rights violations. It requests that Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon reports within 15 days – i.e. on Friday the 27th – on options for increasing the UN presence in Burundi.

There are fears of a Rwandan-style genocide in Burundi, which like Rwanda has a long history of tribal distrust and, on occasion, hatred, although there are many intermarriages. At least 240 people have been killed there since protests began in April.

Since independence from Belgium in 1962 it has been plagued by tension between the dominant Tutsi minority and the Hutu majority.

The ethnic violence sparked off in 1994 made Burundi Read the rest of this entry »

TFF PressInfo # 349 – Burundi’s crisis and the world’s inability to prevent violence

By Jan Oberg

Lund, Sweden, November 9, 2015

The big – not great – powers of the world have embassies everywhere, plenty of intelligence services, special forces on the ground and satellites in space. They can even hit and kill individuals they don’t like.

They can intervene here and there and everywhere – particularly if they have economic or strategic interests or their own nationals are in danger.

These very weeks they can squander incredible sums of taxpayers’ money on new nukes and huge paranoia-based military exercises in a Europe – to which over a million refugees come because these big – not great – powers have contributed to the destruction of their houses, villages, life opportunities, whole countries and cultures.

So it’s amazing what the big ones can do. It would be impressive if it wasn’t so destructive and self-defeating. Again and again.

The only things they don’t seem capable of, however, is to:

a) fulfil their self-appointed mission called Responsibility to Protect and prevent violence where they have no interests and to

b) contribute to making life better for all and create genuine peace, justice and development.

Take Burundi.

There is a colonial history as well as a history of genocide, extreme poverty and corruption, ten years of economic and other mismanagement under the ever more authoritarian rule of Pierre Nkurunziza.*

Since April this year, there have been tons of indicators that something really bad could happen. The trained observer cannot fail to see the pattern, the incremental, systematic increase of repression of the people.

It’s all well summarised in this background article. 

And what do the big powerful do over 6 months with this potential crisis, possibly civil war or genocide – knowing full well about it?

Absolutely nothing! Read the rest of this entry »

TFF 30th Anniversary Benefit Event

Lund, Sweden, September 5, 2015
Updated September 5 and our apologies if you’ve received this before.
We want to catch all and miss no one over all these years.

Dear friend!

We are happy to invite you to the TFF 30th Anniversary Benefit Event !
September 11-12, 2015

Live Lectures by videostream
Exciting lectures on world affairs and peace over two days – See program below.

This is not an invitation to visit the foundation in person.
It is an online, live video streamed event that you will be able to follow from anywhere in the world
Here is the link and it’ll also be shown via Facebook, Twitter and on our website.
And all the lectures will be available later as videos on our own video channels.

Open House at the foundation
Saturday September 12 at 14:00-17:00
It’s at Vegagatan 25 in Lund, Sweden – deadline for your registration September 7.

1. Lectures on-site with live streaming

We’ll shortly tell you the links where you may see it all and where videos will later be available.

Lecture program

Friday September 11

Live, video streamed:

September 11: Alternatives to the devastating War On Terror – Jan Oberg

TFF 30 Perspectives – TFF Associates and Board on the better world we dream of – And cheers!

Saturday September 12

Live, video-streamed 10:00-18:00

Iran And the Nuclear Issues – Gunnar Westberg

Integration – Why and how? Example: Afghan Youth In Sweden – Christina Spännar, Sweden

Nuclear abolition is necessary and possible – Gunnar Westberg, Sweden

West and East: Ukraine and New Cold War? – Jan Oberg

Human Rights And War Crimes – Jonathan Power, UK/Sweden

Women, Self-Esteem and Violence – Annette Schiffmann, Germany

Yugoslavia – What Should Have Been Done? – Jan Oberg (in Memoriam Håkan Wiberg), DK/Sweden

Media and Peace – Sören Sommelius, Sweden

Burundi’s Crisis And Possible Ways Out – Burundi expert

2. Open House hours 14-17
Buffet, drinks, coffee and tea, cakes and other sweets.
You must register your visit by September 7 at the latest at or call 0046 738 525200.

3. Peace with peaceful means
The day is devoted to the – ongoing – struggle for ”peace by peaceful means“ as the UN Charter puts it. Gandhi said that the “means are goals in-the-making”. To realize that noble goal remains the mission of TFF. Today we show you how and promote all related activites with the help of social media and new video technologies.

4. This is a Benefit Event – Your support to TFF please!

TFF is unique in being totally independent of government and corporate funds. It’s people-financed. No one related to TFF has a salary; we’re all-volunteer.
This provides for truly free research and permit us to be critical and constructive and practise our freedom of expression. Not everyone can boast that today!
Wars, nuclear and conventional arms, bombing raids and occupations etc. are financed by your tax money. Sadly and unfairly, no tax funds go to realise the UN norm above.

We think that people who believe that peace is better than violence should also pay something to the research, education and activism in favour of that UN norm.
If you can come to Lund on our big day or sit somewhere following our rich lecture program, we urge you strongly to make a donation. Every day over 30 years, TFF has given the world something useful.

You can do it right in the middle of our homepage – click the “Give” button or under the headline “Support” in the right-hand column where many options exist, including PayPal. It easy, fast and secure!
Cash – but no cheques – can also be donated at the event.* *

Thank you so much!

5. Videos
We’re proud to present the first two short videos – 3 more to come – in which the founders talk about various aspects of 30 years in the service of peace on the basis of questions asked by board member Annette Schiffmann. Watch, comment and subscribe!

The First

The Second

6. Brand new Online Magazine
The announced online magazine launched to mark our Anniversary is now here!

“Transnational Affairs – TFF Magazine for conflict-resolution, non-violence and peace-building”

Excited as we are, we’ll be back to you soon with more details!

Yours truly

Christina & Jan

* If you are able to come in person, you must register to or call 0046 738 525200 by Tuesday September 8 at the latest.

* * This does not apply to you if you have already made a donation in 2015.

Our 30 years with peace – And what happened to world peace? Part II

By Christina Spannar and Jan Oberg, TFF founders

Part 1 here

TFF was established on September 12, 1985. We think that it’s 30th Anniversary is a fitting occasion to reflect on what has happened in the big world and in our lives with the foundation.

It is also a piece of Lund’s research history in general and of peace research and education in particular.

Part 2

Weak aspects of TFF

• Being outside many networks and institutions – it has become more and more difficult to influence the world if you are small, independent and don’t accept governmental and corporate funds.

• A perception that the interest/commitment of TFF is out of sync with the sentiments of times, of the Zeitgeist. In spite of that we maintain the fundamental belief that peace is essential and that we can forget about the rest if major wars or nuclear exchanges take place.

• Too ‘academic’/theoretical to forge deeper, permanent links with public opinion and movements.

• Too ‘radical’ or ‘idealistic’ to be interesting to governments and most mainstream media.

• A constant very hard work load – resting on a small international group and on the founders in Sweden – vulnerability also in the perspective of us having gotten 30 years older.

• The struggle for funds getting more and more tough and we are much more vulnerable than, say, ten years ago. Being all-volunteer, we still have to pay the bills for what enables us to do things: the Internet, computers, travels to conflict areas, insurance, bank fees, fund-raising, phones, sending out mails, using social media, etc. 
The generosity of yesterday has been replaced by a ”stingy” attitude of being entitled to get things free in the affluent Internet-based society. This attitude implies that it is not my responsibility to finance peace, somebody else does (and the somebody else is never me). Few citizens seem to recognise that they are the taxpayers who de facto finance all the weapons and wars. 
The far majority of those who support us are idealists without particular means – while wealthy people for peace a far and few between.

TFF’s stronger sides

• We are still here, operating with amazing TFF Associates around the world who share the commitment to ‘peace by peaceful means’.

• We have remained faithful over all these years to the original ideals, not succumbing to go mainstream/politically correct to achieve more funds or appearing acceptable to the masters of war, i.e. government – neither by the way in Sweden nor Denmark. Read the rest of this entry »

Our 30 years with peace – And what happened to world peace? Part I

By Christina Spannar & Jan Oberg, TFF founders

Part I

TFF was established on September 12, 1985. We think that it’s 30th Anniversary is a fitting occasion to reflect on what has happened in the big world and in our lives with the foundation.

It is also a piece of Lund’s research history in general and of peace research and education in particular.


The 1980s was a decade of gross changes in Europe, the struggle against nuclear weapons in particular.

Lund University was predominantly about education and single research projects – while TFF could be more of an experimental playground. We wanted to do truly free research and not negotiate with higher levels at, say, the university what to do where, in which countries to work and what to say to the media.

Peace has always been controversial and there were – and remain – enough examples of places that become ‘mainstream’ and routine – rather than experimental and radically ’alternative.’

What we did not know back in 1985 was that Lund University wanted to get rid of all inter-disciplinary academic endeavours – women, environmental, human rights and peace studies – and closed down the Lund University Peace Research Institute of which Jan had been the director since 1983, in November 1989.

Being a private undertaking

The HQ is the first floor of a two-family house in a villa area of Lund. Visitors, board members etc. have held seminars there, eaten and often stayed with us. Board members were colleagues and personal friends and new board members were recruited from Associates who were also personal friends, like-minded colleagues or mentors one way or the other.
Our children and other friends were often involved in the things TFF did – including printing newsletters in the basement, gathering them, putting them in envelopes and fix address labels.


The permanent top priority has been to promote the UN Charter norm that ‘peace shall be created by peaceful means’ (Article 1).
This was promoted through traditional book-based research and later field work – i.e. conflict analyses and mediation and peace plans – in conflict zones, but also through intense public outreach/education such as newsletters, media participation, press releases – and, from 1997, the Internet and then social media.

Secondly, we wanted to integrate theory and practice. While it is good to do basic research in the laboratory, what is peace research really worth if it is never applied to real life’s tough situations?

The first five years we did book projects like everybody else in the trade. But in September 1991 TFF went on its first peace mission to former Yugoslavia. It is safe to say that we were among the first to embark on that in-the-field philosophy and practice it – with all the problems and risks that it entailed.

Foundation and management

The word ‘foundation’ does not mean that we had an endowment to start out with – and funding has been a constant problem every day and year ever since. And getting worse over time.
But it meant flexibility and – being and remaining small – quickly adapting to a changing world.

Being our own and not part of Lund University was another advantage – and a drawback in terms of finding funds. TFF had to build its own reputation from scratch rather than piggyback on that of the university’s. It was quite tough but also more rewarding in the long run. Read the rest of this entry »

TFF PressInfo # 327 – Burundi heading for catastrophe with the world’s eyes wide shut

By Jan Oberg

The elections taking place in Burundi are no elections. The African Union, the European Union, NATO, BRICS and everybody else must know that by now. They are all turning their heads, pretending they just don’t see. When it comes to Burundi, the much celebrated Western concern about human rights and democracy is conventiently put aside.

However, since April developments in Burundi have taken only one direction: towards dictatorship and civil war and, in the worst of cases, a new genocide. If Burundi avoids that it’ll be by miracle and I shall be happy beyond words to be proven wrong.

Had this country had oil, important minerals or a significant strategic position – or had Burundi been situated in Europe – I am in no doubt that NATO countries would have conducted a “humanitarian” intervention already.

Now when a genuine humanitarian intervention is urgently needed to stop the descent into a hell and save about 10 million people from it, no one is doing anything but issuing hand-wringing, lame and woefully inadequate statements and appeals.

And by staying away from monitoring these “elections” and documenting the fraud they lend de facto support the emerging dictatorship.

Across social media TFF has so far posted 87 Burundi Warnings based on media reports. It has as issued its own warnings (see below) based on an long-term experience with Burundi that few have. Of among 4000 media recipients, two have shown any interest.

TFF has been engaged over 13 years (1999-2012) in that country. It’s work has covered a series of projects with leading civil society organisations, teaching at a university, work with media and consultancy with the Ministries of Higher Education and of Foreign Affairs.

That was when there was hope.

We did it because the rest of the world was interested only in neighbouring Rwanda, gave it all the attention and aid, the important embassies, Hollywood movies and books and because the world commemorated only its genocide, not Burundi’s. The two countries were once one and the problems the same.

And we did it because the peace process in Burundi was promising – at the time much more promising than Rwanda’s.

I met Pierre Nkurunziza shortly after he became President. At the time Read the rest of this entry »

The situation in Burundi – will dialogue help?

TFF director Jan Oberg on the crisis as of June 5, 2015

TFF PressInfo # 322 – Burundi: Plan genuine humanitarian intervention now!

By Jan Oberg

When I put things together in the early morning of May 15 – mainstream media reports, Twitter, Facebook and info from Burundi and my 13 years of experience there – Chapter One of the Burundi crisis is over. Another very bleak chapter is opening. Everything is worse now in Burundi.

The coup d’etat of May 13 has failed, its masters being arrested. President Nkurunziza who was in Tanzania when ousted will return as soon as he feels he can trust enough loyalists; there may well be increased repression of the people everywhere and violence between loyalists and opposition. Toward civil war? Toward genocide?

PressInfo 319 was an early warning. PressInfo 320 dealt with some hopes and possible outcomes – in which a coup d’etat was predicted. However, neither hopes nor denials make a policy and certainly don’t save lives.

The international so-called community’s response so far has, no exception, been woefully inefficient.

The African Union which ought to have action capacity and serve as mediator came out with the usual diplomatic appeals to all sides about showing restraint (echoing an equally lame UN Secretary-General). Incredibly, it condemned only the coup makers but not the massive brutality with which Burundi’s political and military leadership have attacked every citizen-democratic protest the last weeks – protest against the President’s arrogant violation of both the Arusha agreements and the Burundian constitution.

The UN Security Council at least “condemned both those who facilitate violence of any kind against civilians and those who seek to seize power by unlawful means.” In essence, neither the AU nor the UN understands a democratic citizens’ perspective. Read the rest of this entry »

TFF PressInfo 319 – Burundi: Early warning and violence prevention

Jan Oberg

By Jan Oberg

See also TFF PressInfo 320.

The world’s leading countries are busy with ongoing conflicts and wars in areas of strategic importance to them. Organisations that work with humanitarian issues and post-war healing have exhausted their capacities long ago. It’s repair work but it must be done.

So there is hardly any capacity in the world to do what would be much more productive: Prevention of violence (yes, not of conflict but of violence). For decades there has been talk of early warning – but if it works at all, there is little or no early listening and even less early action.

If it all worked as it ought to, the world would have a violence-prevention machinery in place and it would, these very days, plan what to do before a catastrophe descends upon a small, beautiful African country – poor, mal-developed and of no strategic significance to bigger powers. That is, it would do a genuine humanitarian intervention to save lives in time.

The world’s neglect of Burundi

Since the genocide in the two neighbouring countries, Rwanda has probably been mentioned 100 times when Burundi was mentioned 1. Rwanda got the diplomatic attention, the investments, the aid, the Hollywood movies and books. Annually when the world commemorated the genocide that took place in both countries, everybody talked about Rwanda as if Burundi didn’t exist. One reason apart from sheer ignorance is that ”only” 300.000 were killed in Burundi’s genocidal civil war while three times more in Rwanda. About Burundi’s civil war.

Children in Muramviya, Burundi © Jan Oberg

Every year the development aid given to Burundi was around or less than 50% of what donor countries had pledged. Today, the two capitals Bujumbura and Kigali are like two different worlds. The best the world has done for Burundi was the remarkable UN mission which, regrettably, the Burundian government always wanted somehow to get rid of.

It can be argued the consequences of this relative neglect by the world are now becoming visible.

Combine that with the last few days of rioting against President Nkurunziza’s extremely dangerous manoeuvring to be elected for a third term and you have a situation that may soon present itself as yet another major human tragedy the world failed to do anything about before it was too late.

With the accumulated experience from TFF’s projects in Burundi from 1999-2012*, I believe there are extremely strong reasons to produce not only lame, standard diplomatic statements but to take action to prevent a new catastrophe. Read the rest of this entry »

Explanations of the popular participation in the Rwandan genocide

By Mira Fey

Book Review

Lee Ann Fujii,
Killing neighbors: Webs of violence in Rwanda
Cornell University Press 2011

Previous research on driving forces of the genocide

Questions of intimate mass violence in ethnic killings are especially puzzling for researchers investigating political violence. Various approaches examine reasons for popular participation in the relatively recent genocide in Rwanda which exhibited especially brutal killings of acquaintances such as neighbors by regular villagers.

Some of these approaches link ethnic violence with structural violence by looking at cultural and historical particularities that allegedly led to distinct ethnic identities and a society divided along ethnic lines that can be equated with class divisions (Mamdani, 2001). Others focus on the role of the state and the hierarchical organization of Rwandan society as facilitating conditions for mass participation in the genocide (Prunier, 1995).

According to Straus who conducted one of the most extensive field studies in post-genocidal Rwanda, these perspectives portrayed the genocide as “a state-organized, planned extermination campaign that served elite interests and drew on constructed ethnic categories” (2004, 86), thereby shifting the analytical focus on macro-level examinations and elite actions away from the original puzzle of popular participation. Consequently, Straus’ own research focuses on local-level dynamics of the Rwandan genocide. Read the rest of this entry »


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