In yet another bizarre happening in the country, three teenage schoolgirls in Burundi have been sent to prison to await trial for scribbling over images of President Pierre Nkurunziza in their school textbooks.
According to Lewis Mudge, the Central Africa Director at Human Rights Watch, the girls, aged 15, 16 and 17, face up to five years in prison for “insulting the head of state” if found guilty.
A 13-year-old girl was released for being below the age of criminal responsibility while four others arrested alongside the schoolgirls were released.
Mr. Mudge says textbooks in Burundi’s school system are often passed in between classes and it is, therefore, makes it extremely difficult to know who scribbled on the President’s image in the first place.
“It’s ridiculous that we’re at a point where we even have to ask or interject this point in a conversation. These are schoolgirls that are being detained,” he said.
In 2016, agents of the National Intelligence Service of Burundi arrested eight high school students for allegedly insulting Nkurunziza by writing phrases like “Get out” or “No to the 3rd term” on a picture of the President in a textbook, according to Human Rights Watch.
The same year, hundreds of children were expelled from several schools for scribbling on the President’s face in their books.
Social media users rallying in support of the children have now been scribbling over Nkurunziza’s photos and then uploading them online.
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