Monday, May 7, 2018

Statement from Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG) CEO John F. Lansing on the suspension of VOA in Burundi

Image from entry, with caption: Mourners are silhouetted behind the Burundi national flag as they march in memory of Theogene Niyondiko, who was shot dead by police during an opposition demonstration in June, 2015.

May 7, 2018

One day after World Press Freedom Day, and ten days before a referendum vote that could change presidential term limits, the government of Burundi announced on Friday, May 4 that it would suspend Voice of America’s FM broadcasts for six months, effective Monday, May 7. VOA reporters on the ground reported on Monday morning that it carried out this suspension.

While the VOA also broadcasts in AM, shortwave, television and on digital platforms, FM radio is without a doubt the most popular means of engaging Burundians. They have come to rely on the VOA for unbiased and uncensored news and information, and, given the country’s worsening political and humanitarian crises, that need is more urgent now than ever.

The BBG [see] will continue to support the people of Burundi by providing reliable and accurate programming. I urge President Pierre Nkurunziza to reverse this decision to help ensure security, prevent unrest and protect the population.

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