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Chad: opponents feel "hunted" a month after bloody protests

The young president of the movement, Success Masra, assures AFP that he was "forced" to flee his country on November 1.

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Chad: opponents feel "hunted" a month after bloody protests

The young president of the movement, Success Masra, assures AFP that he was "forced" to flee his country on November 1. He is the most virulent opponent of General Mahamat Idriss Déby Itno, as before his father Idriss Déby Itno, to whom he succeeded at the head of a military junta in 2021, when the head of state was killed by rebels. .

"People are traumatized. The hunt continues. They are afraid to walk past the Transformers, afraid of being arrested," says Gabin, 30, a party activist who has been in hiding for four weeks.

The doors were padlocked by neighbors to prevent intrusions, but the broken windows recall the violence of October 20.

That day, about fifty people died, officially, mainly young demonstrators under the bullets of the police and soldiers. Much more, according to the opposition and NGOs.

The Transformers and the opposition platform Wakit Tamma wanted to protest against Mahamat Déby's two-year extension to the presidency, decreed on the recommendation of a national reconciliation dialogue which they had boycotted.

A year and a half earlier, on April 20, 2021, the army announced the death on the front of Marshal Déby, who had ruled Chad for 30 years with an iron fist, and proclaimed his 37-year-old son head of the army. State at the head of a junta of 15 generals. While promising to return power to civilians through elections after an 18-month transition.

At dawn on October 20, the tires were burning and the first shots aimed at the demonstrators rang out, a prelude to a day of hell in N'Djamena and at least three other cities in this vast Central African country.

- Roundups -

Some traces of the clashes are still visible in Abena: burnt tires, ransacked or burned buildings. But overall, life has resumed its normal course even if the fear of arrests or new clashes remains palpable. Shops, drinking establishments and hairdressing salons are visited more timidly than usual, and everyone rushes to their homes as the 10 p.m. curfew approaches, decreed on October 20.

On the evening of the demonstrations, soldiers entered Transformers HQ, according to Success Masra. "They came to get me but, as I was not there, they arrested 27 members of my team," the opponent told AFP by telephone from an unknown country. He assures that 23 have since been "murdered", concluding: "the manhunt continues throughout the country".

"Like all our activists, I went into hiding," also explained to AFP Max Loalngar, leader of Wakit Tamma, on the phone somewhere in the country. "Since October 20, the police have been going from house to house, they take anyone," he says. "Every morning, we fish out bodies" in the Chari River "and others are buried in the desert," says the opponent, echoing unauthenticated testimonies on social networks.

- "Extrajudicial executions" -

Today, the opposition, international NGOs, UN experts and African Union (AU) officials accuse the government of continuing to hunt down opponents. Transformers and Wakit Tamma assure that 1,500 to 2,000 people have been arrested since October 20 and denounce "extrajudicial executions".

“Let them file a complaint and provide proof of it,” Justice Minister Mahamat Ahmat Alhabo retorted on Friday, acknowledging only the arrest of 621 people, including 83 minors, transferred to the high prison. security of Koro Toro, in the middle of the desert, waiting to go before judges for in particular for "attempted insurrection", in the words of General Déby.

The AU and the European Union (EU) had "strongly condemned" a disproportionate repression and the "serious attacks on the freedoms of expression and demonstration".

"They came to my house to challenge me," Gabin told AFP. Six of his neighbors were arrested, he adds.

"The police seized our phone numbers at the headquarters of the Transformers, they call us pretending to be a travel agency and set traps for us," an anonymous activist told AFP.

Nouba Nadjilem's brother was arrested in the capital on October 20. The 15-year-old "was just going to get some sugar", laments his sister, "no news" from him since.

Marie-Thérèse's nephew, 50, was taken the next day "in front of the house, with certain comrades". "I have no more news", despairs this cleaning lady.

In a November 4 report, experts commissioned by the UN estimated that between 50 and 150 people were killed, 150 to 184 others "disappeared", 1,369 arrested and 600 to 1,100 "deported" to Koro Toro.

On Friday, the chairman of the African Union Commission, the Chadian Moussa Faki, denounced in a report a "bloody repression" and reported cases of "torture, extrajudicial executions and kidnappings of several civilians".

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