Six members and supporters of Wakit Tama arrested, charged following protest

Chairman of the Transitional Military Council and President of Chad Mahamat Idriss Deby at the 76th session of the UN General Assembly, 23 September 2021. Spencer Platt/Pool via Reuters

Peaceful Assembly and Association

Wakit Tama protests: members and supporters arrested, charged

On 14th May 2022, hundreds of people gathered in N'Djamena and in other cities in the country to protest against the French military presence in Chad, the perceived support of France to the Transitional Military Council and to demand a return to civilian rule. The protest, organised by Wakit Tama, a coalition of opposition parties and civil society organisations, was authorised by authorities. According to media reports, slogans such as “Tchad houra, France barra” (Free Chad, France out), "No to France, we are tired" were chanted during the protests. Some protesters burned French flags. 

Some of the protests turned violent, according to authorities. The police claim that 12 police officers injured, while seven gas stations of Total, as symbols of France, were vandalised.  and 12 police officers injured. Wakit Tama denied its involvement and said other actors were responsible for the violence. 

Between 14th and 17th May 2022, six Wakit Tama members and supporters, including protest organisers, were arrested: secretary-general of the Trade Unions of Chad, Gounoung Vaima Ganfare; lawyer at the Chadian Bar Association Koudé Mbaïnaïssem; President of the Group of Civil Society Executives Hissène Massar Hissène, former ambassador Allamine Adoudou; secretary-general of the Union of Chadian Supplier Traders Youssouf Korom and spokesperson for Wakit Tama Max Loalngar, the former head of human rights organisation Chadian Human Rights League (Ligue Tchadienne de droits de l’homme). The six were charged with gathering to cause public disturbance, harm to property, and physical assault. The trial of the six is set to start on 6th June 2022. 

The Chadian Bar Association protested the arbitrary arrests by suspending all their activities in Chad until 6th June 2022, when some of the arrested activists are scheduled to appear in court. On 25th May 2022, the Union des syndicats du Tchad (Trade Unions of Chad) organised a strike in the public sector in protest at the arrest of their secretary-general and the five other Wakit Tama members and supporters.

Protests banned

On 19th May 2022, Minister of Public Security and Immigration Idriss Dokony Adikher issued a blanket ban on all protests on 20th May 2022, claiming that no request was received by authorities. This was reportedly in response to calls on social media to march against the detention of the protest organisers of the Wakit Tama protest on 14th May. According to media reports, a heavy contingent of security officers, including military officers, were patrolling in N'Djamena on 20th May 2022 to prevent protests from taking place. 

Furthermore, planned protests for 28th, 29th and 30th May 2022 were banned by the Minister of Public Security and Immigration on grounds of maintaining public order. 

A statement published by the Minister of Public Security and Immigration on 7th May 2021 outlines that protests need to be authorised by authorities, and requests need to be made five days prior to the planned protest, in violation of international norms on the right to peaceful assembly which provides for notification, not authorisation, of protests. In practice, authorities often only notify protest organisers of their decision on the eve of the planned protest, which has led to many protests being cancelled. 

Repression of protests in Abéché: at least 11 people killed

On 24th and 25th January 2022, protests in Abéché, in the province of Ouaddaï in eastern Chad, were violently repressed by security forces, who used live ammunition to disperse protesters. Protests erupted in response to the nomination of a traditional chief of a newly created canton, which according to protesters does not respect customary rules. At least 11 people were killed and 80 were injured in the protests, according to human rights organisations. Additionally, over 200 people were arrested. 

Samira Daoud of Amnesty International commented

"The security forces acted in Abéché in 2022 as in N'Djamena and Moundou in April and May 2021, using excessive and illegal force, in contradiction with all the principles of maintaining order during peaceful assemblies. We recall that the use of firearms is only authorised as a last resort and in the event of imminent danger of death or serious injury. They must under no circumstances be used to disperse crowds."

Protest against massacre dispersed

On 15th February 2022, security officers used tear gas to disperse a protest, gathering hundreds in N'Djamena, against the massacre in Sandana, province of Moyen-Chari, on 9th February 2022, in which at least 13 people were killed, including radio journalist Evariste Djaï-Loramadji (see under Expression). Several people were reportedly injured, while some were briefly detained. Community violence between herders and farmers ensued after a herder's death in a road accident was called a murder by a local police officer, prompting herders, armed with guns, to attack Sandana, a village of farmers.

Civil society report on the repression of pro-democracy protests

In the report 'Chad. A Hereditary Repression', pro-democracy movement Tournons la Page (TLP), its chapter in Chad, and the CSO Agir ensemble pour les droits humains, documents violations of the right to peaceful assembly in 2021, and in particular the repression of protests against a possible sixth term for President Idriss Déby Itno prior to the April 2021 presidential elections and the protests against the military takeover which followed the death of President Déby. According to the report, the crackdown on those protests resulted in at least 20 fatalities, 152 people injured and 849 arrests. The report further documents police brutality and the torture of those detained. Abuses by security forces during those protests were met with impunity. Despite the announcement of investigations into the killing of protesters in May 2021, no one to date has been held accountable. Members of TLP-Chad

"demand a return to constitutional order as soon as possible, with the organisation of free and transparent elections, the opening of investigations into the violations committed and the guarantee of the opening of civic space so that the Chadian people can finally, and for the first time since independence, undergo a peaceful and democratic transition of power."

Association

HRDs subjected to threats

On 6th March 2022, Jacques Saham Ngarassal, coordinator of the Chadian chapter of pro-democracy movement Tournons la Page (TLP), received threats in a series of anonymous phone calls. The threats followed a few days after the HRD was interviewed on radio station FM Liberté on the human rights situation in Chad and TLP's new report 'Chad. A Hereditary Repression', documenting violations against pro-democracy protesters. On 9th March 2022, Saham Ngarassal filed a complaint against unknown persons. 

Detention and prosecution of anti-corruption activist

On 2nd February 2022, judicial police officers arrested anti-corruption activist Ahmat Haroun Larry, coordinator of the CSO Collectif des Associations et Mouvement des Jeunes du Tchad (CAMOJET, Collective of Youth Associations and Movements in Chad) on accusations of defamation following a complaint by N'Djamena mayor Ali Haroun. The defamation complaint stems from a series of videos Haroun Larry posted on his Facebook page, denouncing double standards applied in evictions and mismanagement by the mayor. The activist spent a month in preventive detention before he was acquitted by a court on 3rd March 2022. 

Expression

Journalist killed in community violence

Correspondent for Christian radio station Radio Lotiko, Evariste Djaï-Loramadji, was killed on 9th February 2022 amid community violence in the village of Sandana, province of Moyen-Chari, which killed at least 13 people (see also under Peaceful Assembly). On that day, Djaï-Loramadji reported live from Sandana at 4:39 PM, saying that "people draw arms everywhere in the village and the population flees to take refuge in the bush”. Community violence ensued after a herder's death in a road accident was called a murder by a local police officer, prompting herders, armed with guns, to attack Sandana, a village of farmers. The Union of Chadian Journalists (Unions des Journalistes Tchadiens, UJT) believes that Djaï-Loramadji was targeted by assailants for his work as a journalist. A representative of Radio Lotiko, however, told media outlet Tchad Infos, that although the journalist had previously received threats, they did not know if he was specifically targeted. Arnaud Froger of RSF commented

Until the end, this journalist tried with a great deal of determination and courage to report what was happening in his communityThe authorities have a duty to shed all possible light on this massacre that left 11 dead, including this journalist, who had already been threatened in similar events. Impunity endangers those who report the news and threatens the population’s access to information. It must be ended.”

Journalist accused of rebellion, held for five days

According to the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), gendarmes arrested journalist for radio station Radio Oxygène, Olivier Memnguidé, on 20th April 2022, when he was covering unrest in Donia in the province of Logone Occidental. Clashes broke out between protesters and security forces following the arrest, on 19th April 2022, of a motorcycle owner accused of being in possession of false papers for his motorcycle. Protesters demanded the release of the young man. While covering the situation, gendarmes arrested Memnguidé, confiscated his phone and took him to their office in the city of Moundou, where he was accused of rebellion. The journalist was held for five days until the deputy prosecutor reportedly ordered his release as the court in Moundou did not have the jurisdiction to prosecute Memnguidé. Angela Quintal of CPJ commented:

“Chadian authorities should cease their harassment of Radio Oxygène journalist Olivier Memnguidé and ensure he can work freely and without fear of another arbitrary arrest or prosecution. Covering unrest is dangerous enough for journalists without worrying about an arrest on spurious anti-state allegations.”