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MCC partner reports human rights violations in Chad
June 10, 2008
AKRON, Pa. – Chadian Association for Nonviolence, a partner organization of Mennonite Central Committee (MCC), has reported that government soldiers killed eight students during attacks on high schools in Moundou, a town in southern Chad.
Soldiers stormed the town's Lycée Adoum Dalla high school while classes were in session on April 23 and attempted to arrest a student. The student and several classmates resisted the arrest, and the soldiers barricaded the exits and started shooting indiscriminately, killing four students and wounding more than 30, according to information provided by Chadian Association for Nonviolence.
Djasnabeye Mbaindo, a communications officer for Chadian Association for Nonviolence, was at the association's headquarters in Moundou on April 23 when he heard the shootings begin at the nearby Lycée Adoum Dalla high school. He and other staff members ferried wounded students to a hospital as the shootings continued for several hours.
"We took our vehicle up to the school to go and transport some students," Mbaindo said. "... The students were trying to escape from the firing."
The following day, soldiers attacked students at several other high schools in Moundou during student demonstrations against the violence. The soldiers killed four students and wounded at least 10, according to information provided by Chadian Association for Nonviolence.
Two MCC workers, Daniel and Kathryn Smith Derksen of Shoreline, Wash., are serving with Chadian Association for Nonviolence as peace and reconciliation capacity building associates. The association leads training sessions on nonviolent conflict resolution for people from different ethnic communities in southern Chad, and MCC also supports this work financially.
Chad, a central African nation of about 10 million people, is troubled by a variety of conflicts. On a national level, rebels are fighting to overthrow the president and most recently attacked the capital, N'Djamena, in February in an attempted coup d'état. On a local level, Chad's farming and livestock-herding communities often come into conflict over land issues.
"A lot of people are armed, and the military are very quick to pull out their weapons," Kathryn Smith Derksen said.
However, Mbaindo said that none of the students in Moundou were armed, and the soldiers' actions were a clear violation of human rights.
"Those soldiers, because of maybe ignorance, they don't know anything about, maybe, the respect of human rights," Mbaindo said. "I think that the main problem is ignorance."
Chad's central government sent a delegation to Moundou in the aftermath of the shootings. The delegation paid some compensation to victims and their families, and the central government removed military officers who were responsible for the attacks, but no criminal charges have been filed in the killings of the students, Mbaindo said.