Listening to the victims in Bedjondo and Bongor Reviewed by Momizat on . Bedjondo-Bongor, Chad, 2 & 3 June 2017 As is part of its ongoing outreach campaign in southern Chad, the outreach team made a stopover in the rural commune Bedjondo-Bongor, Chad, 2 & 3 June 2017 As is part of its ongoing outreach campaign in southern Chad, the outreach team made a stopover in the rural commune Rating: 0

Listening to the victims in Bedjondo and Bongor

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Bedjondo-Bongor, Chad, 2 & 3 June 2017

As is part of its ongoing outreach campaign in southern Chad, the outreach team made a stopover in the rural commune of Bedjondo on 3 June; on Friday, 4 June, it returned to Bongor, seat of Mayo-Kebbi Est region, to meet with victims of the crimes of the Habré regime after the appeal verdict and answer their questions.

 That day, Friday, the parish hall in Bedjondo was filled to capacity. Some victims had travelled from neighbouring Bodo commune. They were visibly uneasy and nervous, because this used to be a Codo rebels stronghold during the Hissein Habré era; officials and the population in the area were targeted during the crackdown known as Black September (1984). The mayor of Bedjondo, whom we had met before the event, told us that most of the mud and straw houses in his commune were burned down and left empty as their owners fled the soldiers who were firing live bullets as they chased after them in pick-up trucks. This campaign of terror, marked by the killing of civilians, left 200 p in Bedjondo.

Bedjondo: compensation, now!

After the screening of a summary of the trial with commentary in a local vernacular by a member of the coalition from Bedjondo’s civil society organisations, the more than 400 victims present, the majority of whom were men, were invited to ask questions. The first victim asked whether he it was possible for him to consult the list of recognised civil parties which is appended to the appeal judgement or whether he was going to leave empty-handed. A second victim asked what will happen to those who were unable to register as victims or to obtain the necessary testimonials from the local authorities. A third victim asked when the compensation is to be disbursed! The next question was whether compensation would be disbursed only after the Trust Fund has obtained the necessary financing. One woman said that she was very upset because victims of disappearance, who are direct victims, were awarded a lesser amount than victims of torture. She said that she does not understand the reason for that, thereby echoing the feeling of other victims of disappearance who did not have the opportunity to mourn their loved ones. A man who introduced himself as a direct victim asked whether the outreach consortium was going to pay out compensations, right then and there!

The Consortium’s communication expert, Franck Petit, recalled the three key stipulations in the appeal judgement of 27 April: a clear list of the 7,396 persons who were recognised as a civil party is annexed to the judgement and will be made available by the local associations to enable everyone to check if they their names appear; the amount awarded to each of the victims recognised as a civil party and the lump sum awarded to each victims’ group; and lastly, clear information as the implementations methods to applied by a victims’ trust fund, which is also tasked with tracking Hissein Habré’s assets, securing additional funding from States, institutions and foundations, and considering whether to award collective reparations. The expert echoed the words of Jacqueline Moudeïna, at the debate held in N’Djamena on Tuesday, where she explained that the same people who successfully fought to bring the case to trial are now engaged in a new struggle and will not give up until they obtain reparations. The disappointment, even anger, was visible on the faces in the dialogue session, where the atmosphere was agitated and tense.

Bongor: is compensation fuelling divisions?

The next day, Saturday, 3 June, fewer victims, slightly over 100, came to Bongor township. With them, the Consortium and its local representatives, who are very active, have built strong bonds of trust over time. The issue of disappearances came up again, but in a different form. This time around, the question was whether the EAC has gathered information about disappearances in order to gain more insight into the issue. That question was asked by an elderly man whose brother was arrested by the DDS in 1987 and went missing. Another man asked, “Don’t you think the EAC was wrong in omitting to investigate disappearances? Another man who was next to him, a direct victim, wanted to know what the prison where Hissein Habré is being held is like… whether he was under house arrest. Another person asked whether the Chamber has stipulated how and where Hissein Habré will be buried, as he was sentenced to life imprisonment. Another question was about whether the property he owns in Chad will be seized. Other questions were asked whether pecuniary compensation was not bound to create more divisions among victims and families, once the monies are disbursed. A thunderstorm broke out towards the end of the event, and the screening scheduled for that afternoon at Lycée Jacques Moudeïna in Bongor had to be cancelled because of the ensuing heavy downpour. Everyone remained in their homes. The Consortium gave its explanations through an interview of its expert on Radio Terre Nouvelle.

 The first phase of the Consortium’s outreach concerning the final verdict ended with two events in Bedjondo and Bongor. The 70 civil society organisations, which work in partnership with the Consortium, as well as the 12 community radio stations, also partners of the Consortium, will undertake the task of disseminating the information around Chad. A second outreach campaign is scheduled for the end of June with a focus on central and northern Chad.

The Consortium

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