Social media backs Burundi pupils with #FreeOurGirls

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Burundi's President Pierre Nkurunziza
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Twitter users are showing their support for a group of Burundian schoolgirls facing jail for scribbling on a photo of the president in their textbooks by doing the same thing.

With the hashtag #FreeOurGirls, people are sharing photos of President Pierre Nkurunziza with wigs, moustaches and cowboy hats added.

Campaign group Human Rights Watch says the three schoolgirls were arrested a fortnight ago and are awaiting trial after being charged last week with insulting the head of state. They risk being jailed for five years.

The agency also said the authorities had initially arrested seven schoolchildren, but four of them, including a 13-year-old, were freed immediately.

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The remaining three, all under the age of 18, have been detained in prison.

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Last week, HRW director for Central Africa Lewis Mudge said the father of one of the girls said on Saturday they were “too scared to eat”.

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Mr Mudge added: “With so many real crimes being committed in Burundi, it’s tragic that children are the ones being prosecuted for harmless scribbles.

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“Authorities should focus on holding perpetrators of serious rights violations to account instead of jailing schoolchildren for doodles.”

 

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