The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) is deeply troubled by the recent assault on Tchanguis Vatankhah, director of the privately owned Radio Brakos, which is based in the southern town of Moissala.
On February 9, police officers went to the station's offices and brutally assaulted Vatankhah. The officers then arrested and detained Vatankhah for 48 hours at the Moissala police station before releasing him without charge. According to local sources, the journalist, who received blows to the head and was badly injured during the beating, will soon travel to the capital, N'Djamena, for medical treatment.
Vatankhah's arrest apparently stemmed from a recent interview he had conducted with an opposition politician from the l'Union Nationale pour le Developpement et le Renouveau (National Union for Development and Renewal) party that was broadcast on Radio Brakos. Local sources told CPJ that it is unclear whether any specific comments aired during the program provoked the arrest. Local journalists, including the Union of Private Radios in Chad, have protested Vatankhah's assault and detention and have called on Your Excellency's government to cover the cost of Vatankhah's medical care.
As an organization of journalists dedicated to defending the rights of our colleagues worldwide, CPJ condemns this brutal treatment of a journalist because of his work. We urge Your Excellency to ensure that a thorough investigation into this attack is conducted as soon as possible, and that those responsible are brought to justice. We also call on Your Excellency to ensure that Chadian journalists are able to practice their profession freely and without fear of government reprisals.
Thank you for your attention to this urgent matter.
Ann K. Cooper