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Burundi Holds Two Anti-Graft Activists, Human Rights Watch Says

Burundian authorities detained two anti-corruption activists at a peaceful protest held in the capital, Bujumbura, to mark the second anniversary of the death of a campaigner against graft, Human Rights Watch said.

Gabriel Rufyiri, head of the Anti-corruption and Economic Malpractice Observatory, or Olucome, and colleague Claver Irambona were arrested, and police shut down today’s rally, the New York-based advocacy group said in an e-mailed statement.

Ernest Manirumva, who was vice president of Olucome, was found stabbed to death outside his home in Bujumbura in April 2009. He had been investigating allegations of police corruption and illegal weapons trafficking, Human Rights Watch said.

Burundi hasn’t followed the recommendations of a U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation-assisted inquiry that several high-ranking police officers should undergo questioning and give DNA evidence in the case, according to Human Rights Watch.

The demonstrators had defied a decision late yesterday by east African nation’s Public Security Ministry to bar today’s protest. The ministry had overturned the Interior Ministry’s permission for the rally to take place, Human Rights Watch said.

“The Burundian government doesn’t have a history of tolerating peaceful protests,” the group said. “The government is doing everything they can to stop people from highlighting the lack of justice.”

Three calls seeking comment from the government’s public relations office weren’t answered.

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