Chad: Respect the right to protest and release detained activists

The use of violence to disperse recent protests in Chad and the arrests and detention of members of civil society and the political opposition highlight ongoing attempts by the military junta to stifle civic freedoms and silence criticism of their actions.

On 14 May 2022, the civil society group Wakit Tama – a coalition of NGOs, members of the political opposition, trade unions and human rights defenders organised protests against the presence of French troops in Chad and the French backing of transitional President Mahamat Idriss Déby Into.

Chadian police used tear gas and water cannons to disperse hundreds of protesters in the capital N'djamena and then in three other cities, arresting several trade unionists and members of the political opposition. Some of those detained include; Gounoung Vaima Gan-Fare, secretary-general of the Union of Trade Unions of Chad, Youssouf Korom Ahmat, secretary-general of the Chadian Merchants' Suppliers' Union, Massar Hissene Massar, president of the Gathering of Civil Society Leaders and Koudé Mbainassem, president of the Association for Freedom of Expression. 

"Violence and arbitrary arrests and detentions continue to be used by the military junta to silence protesters and those who call for a more inclusive transition in Chad and a return to civilian rule. The right to protest is guaranteed under international human rights law. The military junta should immediately release all those detained and drop charges against them," said David Kode, Advocacy and Campaigns Lead, CIVICUS. 

Those arrested have been charged with undermining public order, attacking the people's physical integrity, and destroying property. They were all detained at the Klessoum prison in Ndjamena. Following the arrests, protests - led mostly by students continued on 16 May, calling for the release of those detained and for an end to France's presence in Chad. 

  

Background

Protests have been held regularly in Chad since the Transitional Military Council (CMT) was installed in April 2021 to govern the country for a period of 18 months. The civil society coalition Wakit Tama has mostly coordinated protests calling for more inclusion in the CMT and the transitional process itself and a return to civilian rule. The military junta continues to ban protests from pre-empting and preventing them and using violence when protests happen. On 2 October, for example, more than 40 people were injured as anti-riot police and gendarmes used violence to disperse protests despite being authorised. Dozens of people were arrested a few days later, on 9 October, during another protest that was banned by the military authorities.  

Civic space in Chad is rated repressed by the CIVICUS Monitor.

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