Pierre Claver Mbonimpa imprisoned in Burundi / by Ramita Navai

I've just heard the terrible news that on 16 May, the brilliant, gentle human rights activist, Pierre Claver Mbonimpa was imprisoned without charge in Burundi. It is thought he was arrested after making comments on a radio programme denouncing the distribution of weapons to young people in Burundi, and of talking about reports of the presence of members of the Burundian army in Eastern Congo, and the training of young Burundians in the DRC by Burundian security services. 

My friend, the director Wael Dabbous, and I filmed him for our documentary about child prisoners. This is not Pierre Claver's first time behind bars - many years ago, he was wrongly imprisoned for possessing an illegal weapon when he worked as a policeman. In his tiny cell, he had promised himself that if he was ever released, he would dedicate his life to battling injustice. After two years, having endured regular beatings and torture, Pierre was finally freed and, true to his word, he founded the Burundian Association for the Protection of Human Rights and Detained Persons (APRODH). He is now the country's most famous human rights activist, campaigning against torture, corruption and the plight of 9,000 detainees being held without trial in the country's overcrowded jails. He is also one of the few people fighting for the rights of child prisoners, lobbying for the introduction of a separate judicial system for minors and for children to be held in separate prisons to adults. Pierre has been hailed as one of the few who stand up for the rights of both Hutu and Tutsi communities in a country divided by ethnic conflicts. He has received many death threats for his work against corruption. "Not even death threats can get me to stop - without me, these children, these prisoners have no one," he told me.

PLEASE help him - take a few minutes to send an email demanding for his release - follow these instructions by clicking here. 

UPDATE - Great news, Pierre Claver has been freed! Thank you to everyone who signed the petition.