Protesters killed as security forces violently disperse opposition protests
On 19th August 2017, clashes between security forces and protesters in five localities of the country led to several deaths, injuries and arrests of protesters. The protests were organised by the opposition Parti National Panafricain (PNP) in Bafilo, Sokodé, Kara, Lomé and Anié, and in countries with a significant Togolese diaspora. The protesters called on the government to return to the provisions in the 1992 constitution that included a two term limit on presidents and allowed for the diaspora to vote in the elections. The authorities had prohibited the protests the day before due to disagreement over the itinerary that the demonstrations should follow.
According to the government, at least two people were killed in Sokodé, while PNP claims that at least seven people lost their lives and several were arrested. According to the president of PNP, Tikpi Atchadam, security forces fired live ammunition on the protesters in Sokodé, and tear gas was used in all localities where protests took place. The video clip below shows the 19th August protest in Lomé with scenes of security forces using excessive force to disperse the crowd.
Following the police repression of the protests, the Centre for Democratic Governance and Crisis Prevention in Togo issued a communique condemning the violence. Civil society organisations also held a press conference and called on the government to respect citizens' right to peaceful assembly.
A student protest at the University of Lomé on 15th June 2017 was also met with excessive force by police who used tear gas to disperse the students. Mouvement pour l’Epanouissement de l’Etudiant Togolais (Movement for the Development of the Togolese Student) with the Ligue Togolaise des Droits des Étudiants - LTDE (Togolese League for the Rights of Students) intended to protest against the arrest of LTDE leader Foly Satchivi and another student who had been detained for "disturbing public order" when LTDE attempted to organise a General Assembly on 14th June. University officials had denied LTDE permission to organise its General Assembly on the 14th and ordered police to repress any student gathering that day. Students responded to police repression and use of tear gas by erecting barricades and throwing stones. There were reports of several students injured in the clashes.