I’m not afraid to die

THE QUEEN OF BURUNDI from Oystein Rakkenes on Vimeo.

Short synopsis
I’m not afraid to die is a documentary about Marguerite Barankitse. An outstanding and brave person that in the midst of a civil war saved 30 000 orphans. She mends what the warlords have broken. She builds hospitals and schools. Marguerite gives hope to a whole nation and dares to speak up against a corrupt and unjust political system. In March this year her own Government put her on a death list. Now she is in hiding somewhere in Burundi.

Marguerite is now facing another life-threatening battle. She has lived through wars and murder attempts. And again the hit men of the current regime are trying to attack her. We want to find where she is hiding. And be together with her on her planned trip to Rwanda. In Rwanda thousands of refugees are waiting for her. A few of Marguerites trusted colleagues, from her NGO, are already there working in the refugee camps. But they are all waiting for Madam, for “the Queen.” She is the general and has all the experience in how to handle a crisis of this dimension. But even politicians from the opposition in Burundi, wants to meet her. They listen to her advice. From her hiding, she has urged them not to take up weapons and go to war. But every day the political crisis in Burundi is escalating. It can be too late. A new civil war could be imminent, or there could be a murder attempt on the President himself. If the President manages to cling to power, she may be banned from returning to Burundi. If he falls, she could return and become one of the leading figures in a transitional Government. We want to be together with Marguerite while this drama unfolds.

Our motivation for making this film
Marguerite Barankitses life is like a thriller. Connected to politics, war, social entrepreneurship and great, personal courage. It is also a love story. I want to know why and how this woman chose to do what she has done. Risking her life over and over again to help others. What is the source of her courage? Educated in France and Switzerland, awarded several humanitarian prizes that in turn has earned her a lot of money. Added that she has a diplomatic passport she could have left Burundi and lived well on the Riviera. Instead, she spends the money on the Hospital for the poor, for child prisoners and for the common good. And above all, she is now in a tough battle with the President himself. Will he win, and then ultimately kill her? Or will he be overthrown? In that case, Marguerite has won the most important battle of her life not only personally, but also for the future of Burundi. This is the life and process I do want to follow up and film to its conclusion.

About the situation in Burundi
The situation in Burundi is currently very unstable. And for Marguerite her security situation has gone from bad to worse. She and other key members of the Civil Society could face arrests or assassination attempts any time. We need to go to Burundi to document what is happening, and to film the violations against human rights and the democratic forces of Burundi. The world should know about what is taking place. The film team could be an extra support and protection to Marguerite. Because so far the authorities have been afraid of attacking Europeans. Marguerite said to Oystein in March: “You were my guardian angel during your stay in Burundi”. It is off course dangerous to go there, but BBC and other European television stations are currently documenting what is taking place.

Brothers at War