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Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights

Press briefing note on Burundi, Israel / Occupied Palestinian Territory, Cuba and High Commissioner speeches

Burundi, Israel, OPT

15 December 2015

Spokesperson for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights: Cécile Pouilly
Location: Geneva
Date: 15 December 2015
Subjects:  (1) Burundi, (2) Israel / Occupied Palestinian Territory, (3) Cuba and (4) High Commissioner speeches

(1) Burundi

The High Commissioner is  deeply alarmed by the latest developments in Burundi’s unfolding crisis. 

On Friday, dozens of people died in attacks against several military camps in Bujumbura and the heavy fighting that followed. Security forces later on carried out intensive house searches in the Musaga and Nyakabiga neighbourhoods, where they arrested hundreds of young men, allegedly summarily executing a number of them and taking many others to unknown locations.

With this latest series of bloody events, the country seems to have taken a new step towards outright civil war and tensions are now at bursting point in Bujumbura.

The High Commissioner  urges all actors in the current crisis, including political leaders and State authorities at the highest level, to take every step possible to stop this deadly escalation and engage in a meaningful and inclusive dialogue.

More than ever before, there is an urgent need for decisive action from the international community to stop this senseless violence. We cannot turn our backs on the people of Burundi at this turning point of their history.

(2) Israel / Occupied Palestinian Territory

We continue to be gravely concerned at the unrelenting violence in the Occupied Palestinian Territory and in Israel. Since the current escalation started at the beginning of October, 21 Israelis and 117 Palestinians have lost their lives (along with two foreign nationals), with thousands more injured. 

Although international attention on the crisis has waned, the level of killings, injuries and arrests has continued, with on average one person dying every day.

The unacceptable wave of stabbings, shootings and car rammings continues to kill and injure Israelis.

The response from Israeli security forces has resulted in alleged attackers, protesters and even bystanders being killed and injured. We again voice deep concern over reports of excessive use of force by Israeli forces.

In the H2 area of Hebron alone, we have seen 16 alleged attacks against Israelis since 1 October. Of the 17 Palestinians involved in such incidents, 16 have been shot dead and one injured and arrested. 

All instances of the use of force resulting in death or injury by law enforcement officers should be the subject of prompt, independent and impartial investigations.

Punitive demolitions of Palestinian houses and the withholding of bodies of alleged attackers from their families can only aggravate this situation. We call on both Israeli and Palestinian leaders to act decisively to de-escalate the situation.

(3) Cuba

The High Commissioner has just issued a press release on Cuba, expressing his concern at the extremely high number of arbitrary arrests and short-term detention of individuals, including human rights defenders and dissidents in Cuba in recent weeks. The press release can be viewed on

The High Commissioner will also this afternoon be addressing a panel on Promoting tolerance, dispelling myths, protecting rights: an evidence-based conversation on migration. This will take place in Room XX at 15h00.

For more information or media requests, please contact  Rupert Colville (+41 22 917 9767 / [email protected] ) or Ravina Shamdasani (+41 22 917 9169 / [email protected]) or Cécile Pouilly (+41 22 917 9310 / [email protected])

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