Stories

Second Burundian Round Table

Friday, 6. June 2003

The Initiatives of Change center in Switzerland hosted this meeting aimed at establishing dialogue to end the armed conflict.

At the request of Burundese personalities, Initiatives of Change held a Burundese round-table in Caux, Switzerland, from the May 29 to June 4. This is the second such event this year.

The initiative was one in a series of meetings dedicated to peace and reconciliation in the African Great Lakes Region, Democratic Republic of Congo, Rwanda and Burundi, organised in Caux over the past three years. At the first Burundese round-table held from March 15-20, representatives from the government/army, and from the Palipehutu-FNL, agreed to meet again quickly in order to follow up this dialogue and find ways to end the armed conflict.

19 Burundese personalities participated in this second meeting. In addition to the delegations from Bujumbura and the Palipehutu-FNL, the Archbishop of Gitega and the Bishop of Bujumbura also attended.

The meeting included some plenary sessions during which personal stories and reflections were presented – a methodology pioneered by Initiatives of Change. There were also closed some sessions involving only the two delegations.

Participants had the opportunity to express to one another their suffering, frustrations and demands – without external intervention or participation. The sessions took place in a peaceful atmosphere of listening to each other. Each delegation was able to present its own vision of the past and current situation of Burundi. Several participants acknowledged that hatred and distrust still prevailed among the two communities, Hutu and Tutsi, and that each group needed to recognise their own faults before peace could be established, and the Burundese nation rebuilt.

The delegates from the two groups committed themselves to report to their respective bases on what they had experienced in Caux.

Diplomats from Belgium, France, Netherlands and Switzerland, as well as representatives from the European Union, and the Human Rights Commission's Special Rapporteur for Burundi, came to meet the participants at the end of the round-table.

Since the Second World War, Initiatives of Change's objective has been to support the process of reconciliation between people and to promote peace. It aims at contributing to the transformation of society through personal change.