Relatives demand justice as rights groups demand a full investigation into the deaths during opposition protests.
Ndjamena, Chad – Surrounded by other grieving women, Grace Garandi collapses into loud, uncontrollable sobs.
Her 17-year-old brother, Sinna, is one of at least five people killed in Chad during protests this week against the takeover of the military in the wake of longtime President Idriss Deby sudden death 10 days ago.
The teenager’s family said he was just a spectator watching a confrontation between protesters and security forces in the capital, Ndjamena.
“Shots rang out. A bullet broke her arm, then it went through her stomach. When it fell, gas cylinders were also fired at the crowd. He was rushed to hospital, that’s where he died, ”says Garandi, crouching on the floor of the family home.
“They killed my brother, they might as well have killed me too.
Protesters took to the streets of Ndjamena and elsewhere on Tuesday, a week after the military announced that Deby had died of his injuries while visiting fighting troops. rebels opposing his 30-year reign. Deby’s 37-year-old son General Mahamat Idriss Deby was quickly announced as his successor.
Chad’s political opposition condemned the creation of a transitional military council with Deby at the helm as a coup, while civil society groups called for more protests despite the military council’s ban .
Tuesday’s crackdown on protesters left four people dead in Ndjamena and one in the southern city of Moundou, authorities said, while opposition activists put the toll at nine.
Dozens of people were also arrested, many claiming they were just passers-by.
“I was waiting for a motorcycle. Suddenly two soldiers appeared and arrested me, ”François said. “They searched me and took my phone and a bottle of water. They said the water bottle was a sign that I was a protester. They beat me and abandoned me, then I was beaten again. After interrogation, I was handed over to another group, where I was beaten even more severely.
The excessive use of force by the security forces has drawn criticism from Chad’s allies, including the former colonial power, France, and calls for investigations.
French President Emmanuel Macron, who attended Deby’s funeral last week, declared to have “categorically condemned the repression of the demonstrations and the violence which took place this morning in Ndjamena”.
In an apparent change in his stance after previously supporting the transitional military council, Macron also called for a government of civilian unity to rule Chad until elections are held within 18 months.
“I am in favor of a peaceful, democratic and inclusive transition, I am not in favor of a succession plan,” Macron said. “France will never support those who pursue such a project.”
Meanwhile, rights groups have called for an investigation into the violent crackdown on protesters.
“We urge the authorities to open impartial and independent investigations into the circumstances of these deaths and to bring to justice anyone suspected of being responsible for unlawful killings,” said Marceau Sivieude, Amnesty International’s deputy director for the West and Central Africa.
“The authorities must ensure that people can safely exercise their right to peaceful assembly. No one should be arrested for simply exercising their right to peaceful assembly and freedom of expression, and all those detained for this reason should be released immediately and unconditionally. “