Target: Mahamadou Issoufou, President of the Republic of Niger
Goal: Immediately release two activists held without charge for criticizing government responses to civilian safety.
The recent arrests of activists Moussa Tchangari and Nouhou Azirka have provoked concerns that Niger is trampling free speech and arbitrarily detaining human rights defenders. Sign the petition and urge authorities to immediately unconditionally release the men.
Tchangari and Azirka, neither of whom has been formally charged with any crime, were arrested in two separate incidents. Tchangari, the Secretary General of Alternative Citizen Spaces, was arrested while he was bringing food to a number of chiefs in the Diffa region who had been arrested days earlier for allegedly failing to cooperate with the government in the fight against Boko Haram terrorists. His arrest was likely related to two reports his organization published criticizing the government for its failure to protect civilians from Boko Haram in the wake of a declared state of emergency.
Azirka, who is the President of the Movement for the Promotion of Responsible Citizenship, was arrested a few days after Tchangari. His crime? Remarking in a televised interview that some soldiers in the Diffa region had complained of poor working conditions. He was questioned twice by police following his interview, and was eventually detained, still without charge.
Both men have had their rights restricted in prison. Tchangari was initially not allowed to eat food brought to him by his wife, and Azirka has been denied all family visits since his arrest.
Both men are clearly being held unjustly and ought to be released immediately. Sign the petition reminding Niger to comply with international human rights standards, and urge the authorities to release Moussa Tchangari and Nouhou Azirka immediately.
I am writing to urge the immediate release of Moussa Tchangari and Nouhou Azirka, two activists held without charge. They have presumably been arrested for criticizing the government and exercising their right to freedom of expression. This makes them prisoners of conscience and necessitates their immediate and unconditional release.
Tchangari was arrested after his organization, Alternatives Espaces Citoyens (AEC) released two reports criticizing the government’s failure to protect civilians from Boko Haram following the declaration of a state of emergency. He has not been formally charged with any crime, although the Minister of Internal Affairs told the press that Tchangari was involved in “criminal conspiracy in connection with the terrorist enterprise Boko Haram.” His detention has already been renewed following the allotted 120 hours in which a terrorism suspect can be held without charge. He has been detained long enough–if there were legitimate charges against him, they would have been brought already.
Azirka, President of the Mouvement Pour la Promotion de la Citoyenneté Responsible (MPCR), was arrested after he stated in a televised interview that some soldiers in the Diffa region complained of unsafe working conditions. He was questioned twice by police following the interview and was eventually detained, also without charge.
Both men are clearly being persecuted for simply and peacefully exercising their right to free speech. I therefore urge you to release them as soon as possible, and in the meantime to ensure that they are granted access to their families, lawyers, adequate food and supplies, and any medical care they may require.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: AlexVan