Le Monde reports on 16 June about the Sudanese President’s escape of arrest (by the International Criminal Court); about the European policies to stop migration from Africa; about the search for Al Qaida leaders by the Americans; and about a call to give the Kurds more and heavier weapons to fight IS in Syria. But I cannot find a word about the – most probably – terrorist attacks in N’Djamena (capital city of Chad) on 15 June. I started searching for news in the Dutch newspapers. Result: one article, online, in NRC Handelsblad, one of the biggest journals of the Netherlands. I had expected some more attention, somewhere. Yes, Radio France International has it on their special broadcast on Africa, and some online BBC-Africa reports. That’s all, I have to turn to Facebook and Twitter (#jesuistchadien) and call friends to know more. The Dutch and French public will apparently not be informed. Terrorist actions in Chad are no news.
On 15 June in the morning, two attacks hit N’Djamena: first the headquarter of the police, five minutes later, an attack on the police school. The police is the heart of the security of Chad, hence the attack? A statement? Four attackers are reported to be killed; the figures about the number of deaths vary: 24 to 30; and the number of wounded is estimated at 100. News from Chadian friends – among whom are hospital doctors – gives an impression of the chaos and the terrible condition of many wounded. Why do these attacks not find their way in the international press, except for those few reports? Do the lives of Chadians not count? Is this attack too far from Europe? But the attack will change the lives of many Chadians.
Violence and even more violence
These attacks are at the core of world politics. Boko Haram fighters were possible attackers, they are present in large parts of Central and West Africa. Their ideology is close to IS ideology, if we can speak of an ideology at all: apart from violence and power there is not so much to discover. ‘Destroy’ seems to be their motto. If it was them, what to destroy in Chad? Is this a reaction to the successful involvement of the Chadian army in the fight against Boko Haram in Nigeria and Cameroon? The Chadian rulers condemned the attack and used strong words to say that they will defeat these forces. A ban on turbans and burka’s was one of the first measures. The arrest of suspects in a mosque the same day. What violence will follow?
The question has been raised whether these attacks are also politically driven acts from within Chad. Many Chadians feel neglected by their government. They are deprived of electricity, subject to irregular rules and unjust fines from politicians who make satire and comedy of their daily corruption in radio interviews. Chadians have no good health care, a life expectation of less than 50 years, and a land where poverty is the rule and good water still a wish for most of the population. And they discuss the extensive expenses made on the external policies of the Chadian President, who chooses to invest in the fight against Boko Haram and to be an internationally recognized president instead of taking care of his people.
But the dynamics of these ‘outside’ wars often show they also unite the population, as is expressed on the social media: #jesuistchadien.
The discussion around these attacks goes in different directions. Were these attacks really Boko Haram? People in Chad express their doubts on internet. But the attacks also lead to deep reflections about society, and about the role of religion.
Read what our Chadian colleague Croquemort, currently visiting the Netherlands, wrote on Facebook.
The attacks in N’Djamena hurt many, also befriended families. The stories become so real. The death of the young policemen and women of a now lost future. Yesterday I was informed about the death of four young people from Chagoua. Young people who followed courses at the police school, one of the few opportunities for young people to find employment. The irony is that these youngsters come from the oppressed (southerner) quarters from N’Djamena. It is probably not their pride of the nation that made them enter this school, but simply the search for an income and a better life. It is certain that the government will respond by organizing more razzia’s in the quarter (I witnessed one at the end of my stay in March this year) and more harsh police behavior as part of anti-terrorist measures, and for the good of the people! They cannot protest.
Why ‘we’ should know
Why should ‘we’ know about these attacks? For humanity’s sake: people are hurt in large numbers, as a consequence of the failure of international politics. Many attacks will follow. The answer will be more oppression and less attention for poverty. It will lead to increasing divisions and violence. For our world’s sake: Chad is part of the world and confronted with global problems. The Chadian population suffers already because of the regime, and its suffering will increase. ‘We’ should be interested and share this plight. If the Chadian attacks do not interest Europe, it means that inequality and racism are part of our daily lives, and we hence confirm the divisions that lead to these attacks. ‘Minor’ news does not exist!
Also take a look at our journalistic reports on www.connecting-in-times-of-duress.nl.