Burundian Calgarians hold candlelight vigil as violence escalates in African country

About a dozen members of Calgary's Burundian community held a candlelight vigil Monday night to protest the escalating violence in their central African homeland, urging Canada to help put an end to it.

Canadian government should do more to stop genocide developing in African country, organizer says

Two women hold up signs protesting the escalating violence in their central African homeland of Burundi at a candlelight vigil held Monday night outside the Calgary Courts Centre. (CBC)

About a dozen members of Calgary's Burundian community held a candlelight vigil Monday night to protest the escalating violence in their central African homeland, urging Canada to help put an end to it.

"We are out here trying to raise awareness around the human rights violations that [have] been going on in Burundi, where we come from," organizer Teddy Ntwari said at the vigil in front of the Calgary Courts Centre.

Burundi has been in turmoil since April, when President Pierre Nkurunziza amended the constitution to allow him to take a third term.

Over the weekend, the government rejected the African Union's plans to deploy a 5,000-strong peacekeeping force to stop the violence, which escalated after Nkurunziza won re-election in July.

"Since then, he's been going after the people that have protested against it," said Ntwari.

Teddy Ntwari organized the vigil to bring awareness to the violence plaguing Burundi: 'I would like to see the Canadian government taking a more active role to stop the genocide.' (CBC)

"He's been targeting, killing them day in, day out. I would like to see the Canadian government taking a more active role to stop the genocide."

Canada should also step in to help the roughly 200,000 thousand displaced Burundians living in refugees camps, he said. 

Talks planned 

Burundi's fighting sides are to meet on Dec. 28 in Uganda to try to resolve the crisis, according to Uganda's defence minister.

Fourteen groups including Burundi's ruling party, opposition parties and civil society organizations are to attend the talks aimed at ending the violent political unrest in which hundreds have been killed.

It is not known whether the Nkurunziza government will participate.

With files from The Associated Press

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