​Siaka Traoré and Calixte Bananzaro will represent the peace stance of Burkina Faso’s Mennonites in response to new military taxation. Photos provided.

By Lynda Hollinger-Janzen
Tuesday, May 16, 2023

Ibrahim Traoré, the military officer who has led Burkina Faso since the September 2022 coup d'état, has imposed a tax to fund a "war on terror." 

The government of Burkina Faso, headed by Ibrahim Traoré, is taxing all citizens to increase the military's ability to defend the population against the perpetrators of armed violence, who are increasingly destabilizing the country. Traoré, who seized power in a military coup last September, is fighting "a war on terror" against armed Islamist groups that are under foreign leadership. Civilian deaths, from these outside forces and from Burkina Faso's army, have soared this year, according to Human Rights Watch. Nearly two million people are internally displaced and more than five million will need relief assistance this year. 

"Conflict and climatic shocks, such as longer-than-average dry seasons, high temperatures and flooding, combined with socioeconomic inequalities, have aggravated the access of affected people to food, water and essential services," The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) reported in April. 

Siaka Traoré*, long-time leader of the Eglise Evangélique Mennonite du Burkina Faso (Evangelical Mennonite Church of Burkina Faso) and Mennonite Mission Network partner, said that the Mennonites are preparing to meet with Henry Yé, president of La Fédération Des Églises Et Missions Évangéliques (FEME) du Burkina Faso (The Federation of Evangelical Churches and Missions of Burkina Faso). According to its website, FEME is a consortium of churches that "represents the evangelical community before the national authorities" or whenever the Protestant churches are required to speak with a unified voice. FEME is expecting each denomination to contribute toward its total, which is the equivalent of more than $56,000 USD, to satisfy the government's demands. The sum assigned to the Mennonite Church of Burkina Faso is nearly $3,000. 

Siaka Traoré and Calixte Bananzaro, president of the Mennonite church and its representative to FEME, plan to meet with Yé this week to explain Anabaptist peace theology and why this understanding of Jesus' teachings makes it impossible for Mennonites to morally and financially comply with the government's request to support military interaction. 

Pray for God's favor and wisdom to accompany Bananzaro and Siaka Traoré, as they witness to Yé. 

*Ibrahim and Siaka Traoré are not related. Traoré is a common name in Burkina Faso. 

Pray with Martine Audéoud, a Mission Network partner, who gave voice to our requests on behalf of our brothers and sisters in Burkina Faso: 

"Lord, you see the very difficult situation of our brother, Pastor Siaka, and the leaders of the Mennonite churches in Burkina Faso. You also know when and under what conditions they will meet the president of FEME. Prepare this meeting, in all respects, to give them favor in the eyes of those with whom they will dialogue, to give them wisdom and discernment in what they say and do, and to protect this delegation and their families from all evil. May they always remember your promise: 'Do not fear and do not be afraid' (Deuteronomy 1:21)."

 

 

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https://www.mennonitemission.net/news/4897/Mennonites-in-Burkina-Faso-request-prayer-as-they-speak-out-against-military-taxation

​Lynda Hollinger-Janzen is a writer for Mennonite Mission Network.

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