Chad student shot dead by army as gang rape protests spread in N’Djamena
N’Djamena,Chad (AFP + DIPLOMAT.SO) – A Chadian student was shot dead and five others wounded Monday when soldiers broke up a protest over a girl’s brutal gang rape, as demonstrations showed no sign of abating ahead of a presidential vote.
The death was the second in a week of protests by students who have taken to the streets of the capital N’Djamena and beyond to express rage over the gang rape of a girl named Zouhoura, which has been blamed on the sons of senior officials.
The unprecedented wave of protests that erupted on February 15 comes ahead of a presidential vote in April, which incumbent Idriss Deby Itno, in power for 26 years, hopes to win in one of the world’s poorest countries.
“Soldiers fired at students leaving one dead and five hurt,” a hospital worker in the northern city of Faya Largeau told AFP by phone.
Last Thursday, the Chadian government slapped a ban on unauthorised demonstrations with the minister for security and immigration accusing students of “sowing disorder” and saying they were “being manipulated by politicking groups.”
The ban came after police used teargas to disperse students in N’Djamena gathering to protest the death of 17-year-old demonstrator Abbachou Hassan Ousmane, who was killed in a earlier protest over the rape.
The trouble erupted after a girl was allegedly kidnapped and gang-raped by five young men who then posted a video online showing the victim naked and in tears. The video has since been taken down.
The footage sparked widespread public anger, with police arresting five suspected rapists — three of them the sons of generals — and four alleged accomplices, including a son of Foreign Minister Moussa Faki Mahamat.
Zouhoura’s father, who filed a complaint over the attack, is a candidate in the April 10 elections.
But the arrests have done little to appease the students’ rage.
– ‘We ask for justice’ –
Seventeen students arrested on Friday for protesting in Massaguet, 80 kilometres (50 miles) from N’Djamena, were still in detention Monday, according to the Chadian Convention for the Defence of Human Rights (CTDDH).
In a statement, the group blasted “the gratuitous and arbitrary arrest of 17 students who were expressing their anger over the despicable act carried out by the sons of senior officials, and over the murder of young Abbachou.”
It also accused police of “torturing” the detainees at the police station.
After the protest ended, a fire ripped through the town’s market. Police accused demonstrators of setting fire to two shops, claiming the flames then spread across the market.
In N’Djamena, students at two major high schools skipped class in protest on Monday after a similar protest on Friday, an AFP journalist said.
“What little Zouhoura suffered was a barbaric, despicable act … We ask for justice, to set an example. I am shocked. This must not go unpunished,” Therese Mekombe, who heads an association of women jurists, told AFP.
According to Chadian news website JournalduTchad.com, the suspected rapists are being held a high-security prison in the country’s north.
– ‘Enough’ –
Clamping down on dissident voices, Deby’s regime has blocked access to Facebook and other social media networks used by protesters, an AFP journalist said.
Civil society groups have stepped up calls for Deby’s departure. Last week, opposition movements gathered at the Union of Syndicates headquarters launched a campaign entitled: “That’s Enough”.
“This campaign’s aim is to call for Deby’s departure. The Chadian people can’t take five more years. It’s enough, he has to go,” campaign spokesman Younous Ibedou told AFP, saying a series of peaceful protests would take place from from February 24.
A collection of poems dedicated to Zouhoura, written by young boys and girls, has also been published, according to another local website named Tchadinfos.com.
The poems are dedicated to the memory Abbachou Hassan Ousmane “who died a martyr” as well as to women’s rights activists, “and to Zouhoura, a victim of collective sexual violence.”For more news and stories, join us on Facebook,Twitter , or contact us through our Email: firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com