Burundian journalist Jean Bigirimana has been missing  since 22 July 2016. Multiple sources have told his employer, independent newspaper Iwacu , that he is in government custody. Authorities are denying these claims.
Iwacu, which represents a small beacon  in Burundi's notoriously difficult media environment, last week changed their website design to one that is entirely black and white, in homage  to their missing colleague.
— akanyegeri (@akanyegeri) 22 août 2016 
#Burundi yet another Black Monday. Dark days, gloomy weeks, a sombre month for the family of the journalist Jean Bigirimana.
Burundi has been engulfed in political crisis since President Pierre Nkurunziza's run for a third term last year, which sparked protests  and citizen campaigns  arguing that his candidacy undermined the Arusha Accords and Burundi's constitution. Witnesses , victims , local activists  and human  rights organizations  have all documented cases of arbitrary detention , systematic torture , and killings , targeting activists, journalists and Nkurunziza's opponents , though government officials  have denied this.
The country's once lively media landscape has suffered from the militarized response  to third-term opposition, especially outside the capital Bujumbura. Burundian and international  journalists  have faced accusations  of anti-government bias or encouraging insurrection and been targeted with violence. Iwacu director Antoine Kaburahe  himself currently lives in exile in Belgium.
Before coming to Iwacu, Jean worked with Rema FM radio station. Iwacu reports that in his travels to Rwanda, the 37-year-old reporter  had written  about the lives of exiled Burundian journalists living in the neighboring country. Rwanda and Burundi have a long history of political and diplomatic tensions.
On July 22, 2016, Jean left home  after receiving a call from the national intelligence service. He has not been seen or heard from since. His wife, Godeberthe, made an emotional appeal  for his freedom, and media outlets have tried to investigate and publicize the case, sharing images  widely online.
— KABURAHE (@AntoineKaburahe) 25 août 2016 
#Burundi moving images from the homage to the journalist Jean @iwacuinfo
Iwacu has vowed  to continue searching for Jean. Iwacu journalists undertook their own investigations  which they published online, and hope to take the case to court, though this may prove difficult given the crisis and the many other uninvestigated  deaths and disappearances. Burundian rights organization APRODH recently reported  that police and military sources, unhappy with the current situation, have identified 14 mass graves, likely containing some of the disappeared.
During their enquiries, two tortured bodies were found and eventually collected by police. When Jean’s wife was brought to identify the bodies she said neither was him, although they were then reportedly buried without being identified.
— Tara Muhorakeye (@MuhoraTara) 10 août 2016 
Police spokesperson Pierre Nkurikiye confirmed that neither of the two was Jean:
#Burundi  Enquête/Dossier Jean BIGIRIMANA (journaliste/IWACU): Les 2corps identifiés: Pas de Jean. Le Parquet MURAMVYA dirige la suite.
— NKURIKIYE Pierre (@PierreNkurikiye) 12 août 2016 
#Burundi Investigation/ Case Jean BIGIRIMANA (journalist/IWACU): The 2 bodies identified : Not Jean. Muramvya Prosecutor to follow up
The news raised concerns among citizens not only about Jean, but about other possibly undiscovered bodies. Twitter user Thierry Uwamahoro asked:
— Thierry Uwamahoro (@ThierryU) 10 août 2016 
Eleven days after Jean's disappearance, Iwacu criticized  the police for their “deafening silence” and for the apparent lack of an investigation. Iwacu attempted to follow a lead of Abel Ahishakiye, someone Jean contacted  by phone before disappearing, but he too then apparently disappeared.
In early August, colleagues of Jean's received a tip indicating  that he had been secretly detained in Muramvya  province. Police spokesperson Pierre Nkurikiye denied that the journalist had been arrested, and on 5 August Burundi's independent human rights commission (Commission Nationale Indépendante des Droits de l'Homme) stated it found no evidence that Jean was in the custody of the SNR.
Other reporters have recently been similarly targeted. Oximity  journalist Julien Barinzigo was arrested on 17 June and released on 05 August with restrictions. Gisa Steve Irakoze of Radio Buja FM was arrested  by SNR in early August, before being released on 25 August.
Some have not returned. Rights activist Marie -Claudette Kwizera, with rights organization Ligue Iteka, has not been seen since December 2015 after reportedly being arrested by security agents. APRODH’s president Pierre-Claver Mbonimpa is in exile  after surviving an assassination attempt last year, and family members were then murdered.
The risks of attack even follow reporters  into exile. Boaz  Ntaconayigize, a journalist with Bonesha, in exile in Kampala, was stabbed on 31 July. He said that security agents had come  from Bujumbura to infiltrate the refugee community and track journalists and activists. Boaz was also later questioned by Ugandan police.
As many have disappeared or been found dead after being detained , officials’ denial of Jean's detention has left his friends and colleagues fearful that authorities may be concealing information on his whereabouts or death. On 25 August Iwacu’s editors published a “Letter  to Jean ” expressing their hopes of finding him and their fears of the worst.
Cher Jean nous sommes tellement impuissants face à ceux qui ont fait de la mort leur spécialité.
Aujourd’hui nous n’avons que des mots.
Mais les mots sont plus forts que la mort.
Jean, ils ne gagneront pas !
Dear Jean we are so powerless against those who have made death their speciality.
Today we have only words.
But words are stronger than death.
Jean, they will not win!