Students, academics among victims of oppression

Human rights group Amnesty International has called on Chad to end its brutal practice of illegally detaining and killing critics. It has also demanded that the government curb repressive tactics against opponents, including students and academics.

In its report Chad: In the name of security, published last Thursday, the organisation said it was not only political opponents who were being silenced, but also students, journalists and human rights workers who dared raise their voices in protest.

Since a failed coup attempt in May this year, killings, enforced disappearances, illegal detention and arbitrary arrests have become commonplace.

Scores of people, including members of the Chadian National Assembly, writers, a university professor and army officers, have been arrested by the Chadian security services.

They were accused of being part of a group intending to destabilise the government, and were detained in secret for several days before being transferred to prison in the capital N’Djamena and charged with “provocation directly linked to an unarmed demonstration”.

In April, Nomaye Madana, a university professor and senior staff member at the ministry of education, was shot dead by unknown men in Chagoua, a suburb of N’Djamena.

Years of rights violations

Human rights violations have been taking place in the country for years, according to the Amnesty International report.

In 2011, two students – Beblika Passoua Alexis and Dedoumbayel Nekaou – were arrested at a N’Djamena bus station for allegedly carrying documents calling on students to organise peaceful demonstrations, inspired by the ‘Arab Spring’ in Tunisia and Egypt.

They were detained in secret for several days before being transferred to N’Djamena central prison and charged with “provocation directly linked to an unarmed demonstration”. They were released after being held for several weeks.

The case of Saleh

In 2008, a Commission of Inquiry was set up to investigate human rights violations committed during and in the aftermath of a February 2008 attack by armed opposition groups in N’Djamena.

The report found the Chadian government responsible for the arbitrary arrest, illegal detention and enforced disappearance of a number of individuals, including opposition leader Ibni Oumar Mahamat Saleh, whose whereabouts remain unknown.

Saleh was a former higher education minister, rector of the University of N’Djamena and leader of the first movement of rebellion in Chad, named Frolinat.

More than five years after Saleh’s arrest, Chadian authorities have still not said what happened to him – despite requests for information from his family and human rights organisations.

In July this year, the authorities announced that they had dropped an investigation into the professor’s disappearance, due to lack of information on the identities of security service members who arrested Saleh.

In his memory, the Ibni Oumar Mahamat Saleh prize was created as an annual award by CIMPA – the Centre International de Mathématiques Pures et Appliquées. It enables a student of mathematics or statistics at an institution in Central or West Africa to undertake study in another country for three to four months.

Call for investigation

Amnesty International is calling for prompt and independent investigations into all allegations of torture and ill treatment of people in Chad, and for those responsible to be brought to justice.

On 17 October Chad was elected as a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council for the next two years, starting in January 2014.

“The Chadian authorities have to take this opportunity to improve the protection, promotion and respect of the human rights situation in the country,” said Christian Mukosa, Amnesty International’s Chad researcher.

“The government is doing everything it can to silence anyone who dares to criticise it.”