Chad junta accused of executions, torture after protests

On Monday, the World Organization Against Torture (OMCT) accused the Chadian authorities of summary executions and torture after 50 people reportedly died during clashes in the capital N’Djamena and the south.

The Geneva-based NGO listed “serious human rights violations” during protests on Thursday against a move by Chad’s military ruler to extend his junta’s grip on power for two more years.

Three Chadian human rights groups, along with the OMCT, said they have taken up the case with United Nations special rapporteurs appealing for an urgent inquiry into the accusation, of which Abdoulaye Diarra, Amnesty International’s Central African researcher, is wary.

“Some were apparently tortured in schools, not even in prison. But I haven’t seen any proof of this. It has been very hard to get accurate information, so remain cautious about what you hear,” Diarra told i24NEWS.

“But I can say that more people have died and been arrested than what the government is saying.”

Chad’s opposition called for peaceful protests last Thursday to mark the date when the military promised to hand over power in the unstable Sahel country. Junta head Mahamat Idriss Deby, a 38-year-old five-star general, has been in power since his iron-fisted father was killed in an operation against rebels in April 2021.

AP Photo
AP PhotoAnti-government demonstrators set a barricade on fire during clashes in N’Djamena, Chad, on October 20, 2022.

Diarra said that after speaking with “several human rights activists” in Chad, there was a “huge gap” between the information that they collected about the protests and what the Chadian government confirmed.

The transitional government admitted 50 people died on October 20, including a dozen members of the security forces, and blamed an “insurrection.”

Medical sources and NGOs spoke of dozens shot by live fire from the security forces.

The OMCT reported at least 80 deaths in a provisional casualty toll in N’Djamena and four southern towns – Moundou, Doba, Koumra, and Bebedjia.

Diarra noted that activists told him that many people – activists and young people – were arrested and taken to Koro Toro Prison in the country’s north.

“Some who weren’t even directly involved in the protests were also arrested and taken there, they told me,” he said.

“Bodies of slain protesters were recovered from the Dhari River in N’Djamena over the weekend,” the OMCT statement said, noting school classrooms were turned into prisons at the Abena Communal high school in the capital.

“Young people were reportedly summarily executed there this morning (Monday),” the statement said, adding that hundreds were arrested, and some tortured.

The United Nations said it “deplored the lethal use of force” and called for an investigation into reports of human rights violations.

“Nothing will happen, that’s the sad thing about Chad. After protests, it’s over,” Diarra said.

“People are too afraid now, they prefer not to intervene or even speak out. Even rights activists who I spoke to are afraid. There is a lot of fear and desperation in Chad.”

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