Monitoring press freedom and international affairs from Mid-Missouri Public Radio and the Missouri School of Journalism

Blogger and activist detained in Chad

An activist and humanitarian blogger in the Central African nation of Chad was detained by security forces more than three weeks ago and hasn’t been heard from since.

Jean Etienne Laokolé was with family members in the city of N’Djamena March 22 when he was stopped by a group of men in civilian dress and forced to get into their vehicle, Reporters Without Borders reports.

Laokolé’s family said police questioned the blogger earlier that day about an article posted on Le blog de Makaila under the pseudonym of Vourboubé Pierre.

The interrogation was the result of a complaint about the article, in which the plaintiffs said the blog made false accusations against them.

Three days prior to Laokolé’s arrest, the government blog VisionduTchad claimed Laokolé was the author and listed details of his personal life, but RSF believes it was Laokolé’s March 16 blog post, which identified people working as intelligence agents for Minister of Land Affairs Jean-Bernard Padre, that was contentious .

Laokolé, the son of Jean-Baptiste Laokolé, the deputy general secretary of the opposition party Freedoms and Development Party, is known as an opposition blogger. Laokolé’s uncle, Saleh Kebzabo, is president of the opposition party National Union for Development and Renewal.

Chadian human rights activists told Amnesty International that Laokolé was seen on March 25 in a former military camp and was later transferred to an unofficial camp in the city of Amsinene, known for being used by security forces for interrogation and torture.

RWB said they are concerned for Laokolé and called for his immediate and unconditional release.

“What is he supposed to have done, why has he been held for such a long time, and why is he being held incommunicado?” a representative of the agency said in the report. “Everything indicates that the authorities did not like what he was posting online under the blog name of Vourboubé Pierre, and that they arrested him when it was revealed that he was the blogger…We urge the Chadian government to immediately provide information about the state of Laokolé’s health and the reasons for his detention.”

By Nassim Benchaabane. 

Monitoring press freedom and international affairs from Mid-Missouri Public Radio and the Missouri School of Journalism.
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