Pushing A President| by Elliot Rose

Push for Burundi is a distance longboarding campaign where three teenagers will use their legs and their boards to push the 2,182 km from Edmonton, AB to Portland, ORE. Their epic journey began four years ago when Caleb Sinn, PFB Co-Founder, traveled to Burundi, Africa for six months with Love Works. The group’s website is under construction but intentions are whole with their Facebook page reading “Engaging our generation in a lifelong pursuit of justice and hope for the poor that is motivated by love.”

Standing by their words, Love Works inspired Caleb to reach out to his friends Jordan Smith and Richard Charter to start their LW offshoot titled Push for Burundi to continue raising awareness and donations. Their first journey was Edmonton to Calgary followed by Edmonton to Vancouver. They are preparing to travel their furthest distance to date, crossing international boards and out pacing Bilbo Baggins trip in The Hobbit, beating the slacker by 653.12 km.

Their last journey through British Columbia was documented here with this years journey will be captured by Vice Magazine’s Stephan Boissoinneault, who will be jumping on board for a portion of the trip.

Sadly, this year’s trip will have an emphasis on relief donations, for Burundi, Africa is on the brink of another catastrophic disaster reminiscient of the Hutu and Tutsi ethnic cleansing of the past. The sitting President, Pierre Nkurunziza, is seeking a third term in office despite widespread, international opposition. Protestors are rallying behind their belief Nkurunziza is breaking laws to run for a third time but the official word from country’s constitutional court have legitimized the re-election campaign. That being said, many of those from the court have fled the country because of the reaction to their decision, including Election Commision’s Vice President, Spes Caritas Ndironkeye who fled the region entirely late Friday, May 29th, 2015.

On May 13th an attempted coup d’état to despose Nkurunziza failed, causing the president to arrest coup leaders and purge his government. The coup had served as a catalyst for 100,000 Burundians to flee the country a week later on May 20th, raising alarm for a humanitarian emergency. US-based rights group, The Human Rights Watch, has recognized Burundi to be struck with a “pervasive fear”, parallel to the International Crisis Group, a Belgium-based conflict-prevention think tank, stated that Burundi will return to conflict unless the president retreats.

This past Thursday, May 28th, the European Union and Burundi’s influential Roman Catholic Church have withdrawn their involvement with the elections on the grounds the election is unjust due to unrest and heavy media restrictions.

A brief Wikipedia history of Burundi’s ethnic conflict includes:

“The Hutu and Tutsi peoples have lived in Burundi for at least five hundred years. For more than 200 years, Burundi had an indigenous kingdom. At the beginning of the twentieth century, Germany colonized the region. After the First World War and Germany’s defeat, it ceded the territory to Belgium. The Belgians ruled Burundi and Rwanda as a European colony known as Ruanda-Urundi. Their intervention exacerbated social differences between the Tutsi and Hutu, which contributed to political unrest in the region. There was civil war in Burundi as it fought for independence in the middle of the twentieth century. Presently, Burundi is governed as a presidential representative democratic republic”.

Burundi is in great turmoil and requires aid from countries worldwide. Push for Burundi has stepped forward to play their part and go the distance to provide Burundi the relief and donations they need.

 

Photo Courtesy of Jordan Smith from Push for Burundi 

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