Tuesday, May 5th
Today was an interesting day for us. We jumped in the trusty truck to go do some errands as usual and found that our street was barricaded at both ends. So Gary hopped out and moved some rocks so we could proceed. When we rounded the corner we could see that every street was barricaded and the street we were on was barricaded every few yards. A group of young men standing at the corner had us stop and they informed us we needed to return to our house and not try to get out. I think they frowned on us going through their barricade.
We returned home and called the Van Wagoner's to ask them try to get as close as possible to us so we could hand off the electric bills that needed to be paid so we both wouldn't run out of power. A branch president from Uvira was coming to meet with us today and we were supposed to pick him up at the Marché de Sion, but that obviously wasn't going to happen. We called him on the phone to cancel our meeting and then walked a couple of blocks over barricades and met the Vans'. While we were at their truck, we heard singing and chanting. The protesters were moving in our direction. Van Wagoner's took off, and we started walking back home toward the group. They had stopped in the intersection where we needed to make a turn to get home. They were singing and seemed in a good mood. We walked through the group of protesters, greeting them, shaking hands and saying "hello." Everyone was quite friendly. One young man shook my hand, looked me in the eye and said, "Pray for Burundi." Amen.
In the early evening just before dark, we made a quick trip to Jean Paul's to give him things that needed to go to Uvira. ( By 5:00pm the barricades were partially open so we could get out.)
Wednesday, May 6th
This morning the barricades were all back up, and the protesters were having another march in our neighborhood. They had several fires burning in the streets. We asked to see if we could leave because I had an English class to teach with the missionaries. Permission denied. We walked back home and called the missionaries to say we couldn't make it. We understand we may be able to get out after 3:00pm today.
The number of Burundians who have fled the country now has reached 40,000. This includes the vice president of the courts. The court was considering whether the president has a legal right to run again. One article I read said that of the 7 judges, 4 were saying it was illegal for him to run again. Then the pressure began, and rather than die, 3 of the judges changed their minds and voted that it was legal for him to run. The fourth one, the vice president of the court, fled in the night for Rwanda.
A total of 16 people were injured today in different parts of Bujumbura. The Imbonerakure (youth group affiliated with the ruling party) attacked peaceful demonstrators at Kanyosha, a suburb just south of us. A dozen people were wounded by hand grenades thrown by the young members of the president's party. They are armed and dangerous, menacing and violent.
Jan Egeland, former top humanitarian official for the U.N., called for international action to avoid a catastrophe in Burundi.
"All lights are blinking in Burundi. All alarms are going. So where's the fire brigade?" Egeland told a news conference in Geneva.