Togo: Human Rights Organizations Pressure President Gnassingbé

[All links forward to blog posts in French unless stated otherwise]

For the second consecutive time in 2012, the Organisations de défense des droits de l’homme (Organizations for the Defense of Human Rights – ODDH) expressed their discontent with the prevailing socio-political situation in Togo. On February 11,  leaders, members and supporters of the ODDH marched to the presidential palace in Lomé.

Mr. Zeus Ajavon, a lawyer and president of the Collectif des associations contre l’impunité (Collective of Associations Against Impunity – CACIT) explains [fr] the rationale behind this second protest march:

Le 12 janvier, nous avions organisé une première marche et nous avons fait une série de revendications et de recommandations que nous avons envoyé au gouvernement et au chef de l’Etat lui-même de, nous attendions des réponses ou des signes mais jusqu’alors silence radio.

On January 12, we organized a first march and we laid out a series of demands and recommendations, which we sent to the government and to the head of state himself. We were waiting for a response or a sign of acknowledgment, but so far radio silence.

The ODDH have once again introduced several recommendations published here on Togosite in their entirety.

The Togolese information site MO5 [fr] speaks of thousands of protesters and recounts how the protest unfolded up until the end of meeting [fr]:

La marche des Organisations de défense des droits de l’Homme (ODDH) a mobilisé plusieurs milliers de personnes à travers les rues de Lomé ce samedi. Parti de Bè aux cris de « ça suffit ! Sauvons le Togo », le cortège des manifestants à la tête duquel se trouvaient les défenseurs des droits de l’Homme a sillonné trois heures durant plusieurs artères de la capitale avant de chuter à la plage de Lomé en face du palais de la présidence de la République…

The Organizations for the Defense of Human Rights (ODDH) march mobilized several thousand individuals throughout the streets of Lomé this Saturday. Departing from Bè to cries of “We've had enough! Let's save Togo,” the train of protesters with the human rights advocates at its head criss-crossed the thoroughfares of the capital for three hours before halting at the Lomé beach in front of the presidential palace…

Frome the outset, Zeus Ajavon, lawyer and president of the CACIT, welcomed the protesters on behalf of the coordinators. He thanked them for their active participation because, as he put it, “all together united the Togolese people will be able to save Togo.”

Togolese journalists protesting via (with permission)

Miss Fabbi Kouassi of “SOS journaliste en danger” (SOS Journalist in Danger) read the ODDH declaration [fr] for her own part. The declaration testifies to the silence with which the country's authorities have responded to the first ODDH march last January 12:

Les ODDH soussignées estiment que la recrudescence de ces traitements vils et rétrogrades, consistant à infliger à des personnes des souffrances particulièrement aiguës pour leur faire extorquer des aveux, conjuguée avec l’impunité, constituent une entrave grave à l’enracinement de l’Etat de droit, au développement et par conséquent à l’épanouissement normal de la personne humaine en général et du citoyen togolais en particulier.

The undersigned ODDH judge that the renewed outbreak of these vile and outdated practices – which consist of subjecting people to people particularly acute sufferings in order to extract confessions and of acting with impunity – seriously hinder the growth of the rule of law and the development of the country, and as a result threaten to prevent the Togolese people from flourishing as human beings in general and as Togolese citizens in particular.

Jil-Bénoit Afangbédji once again reminded her interlocuters of the ODDH demands.

Ferdinand Ayité, the president of “SOS Journaliste en danger” related how he witnessed the attempted kidnapping of journalist Marx-Savi Carmel [fr] of Tribune d’Afrique (the African Tribune) while he was investigating a sex scandal that implicated the president of the National Assembly, El Hadj Abass Bonfoh”.

Two Togolese blogs, Pa-lunion, and the “unofficial site of the Togolese republic”  reported that political parties called on their supporters to take part in the demonstration, following the many others that had already taken place:

La Convention Démocratique des Peuples Africains (CDPA, opposition) de Léopold Gnininvi et l’Organisation pour Bâtir dans l’Union un Togo Solidaire (OBUTS, opposition) de l’ancien Premier ministre Agbéyomé Kodjo ont appelé jeudi, leurs militants à sortir massivement samedi prochain pour la « marche pacifique » des Organisations de défense des droits de l’homme (ODDH) prévue à Lomé pour « dire non aux violations récurrentes des droits de l’Homme ».

Thursday, the Convention Démocratique des Peuples Africains (Democratic Convention of African Peoples – CDPA, opposition) under the leadership of Léopold Gnininvi and the Organisation pour Bâtir dans l’Union un Togo Solidaire (Organization for Constructing a United Togo within the Union – OBUTS, opposition) under the leadership of former prime minister Agbéyomé Kodjo, called upon their supporters to turn out en masse next Saturday for the Organizations for the Defense of Human Rights (ODDH)'s “peaceful march” taking place in Lomé in order to “say no to recurrent human rights violations.”

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