Posted October 13, 2005
Tchanguis Vatankah, Radio Brakos
Chadian authorities arrested community radio station director Tchanguis Vatankah in southern Chad and announced they would expel him from the country, according to local sources. A native of Iran who had been living in Chad for several decades, Vatankah is the founder and director of Radio Brakos, a station in the remote southern town of Moissala that is known for its critical reporting.
CPJ has documented a pattern of harassment against Vatankah, and local journalists told CPJ that his arrest was linked to his work for Radio Brakos. According to local sources, the arrest was ordered by Security and Immigration Minister Routouang Yoma Golom. While Vatankah is married to a Chadian woman, he does not have Chadian citizenship, and his legal status is unclear, local sources told CPJ.
In May, Chad's High Council of Communication (HCC), an official media regulatory body, suspended Radio Brakos, citing "recurring conflicts between Radio Brakos and administrative and military authorities." In August, the HCC lifted the ban, but demanded that Vatankah no longer serve as the station's director, CPJ sources said.
In response, media organizations in N'Djamena sent a delegation to Moissala in mid-September to negotiate a compromise between local authorities and the station's management that would have allowed Vatankah to remain involved in the station's activities. Vatankah was arrested outside Moissala the day after this delegation returned to the capital, according to Evariste Toldé, a member of the delegation and the head of Chad's journalists' union.
In 2004, Vatankah was detained and badly beaten on the orders of a local government official after the journalist interviewed an opposition leader on the air; Vatankah still suffers from medical problems related to the assault. Vatankah has also received threats from local military officials and traditional leaders, according to local sources.