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Chad: Strike and demonstrations organized by teachers, including the demonstration of 25 January 2017 in N'Djamena; student participation in the strike and demonstrations; treatment of participants by the authorities (2016-December 2017)

Publisher Canada: Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada
Publication Date 8 December 2018
Citation / Document Symbol TCD106028.FE
Related Document(s) Tchad : information sur la grève et les manifestations organisées par les enseignants, y compris la manifestation du 25 janvier 2017 à N'Djamena; participation d'étudiants à la grève et aux manifestations; le traitement réservé aux participants par les autorités (2016-décembre 2017)
Cite as Canada: Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada, Chad: Strike and demonstrations organized by teachers, including the demonstration of 25 January 2017 in N'Djamena; student participation in the strike and demonstrations; treatment of participants by the authorities (2016-December 2017), 8 December 2018, TCD106028.FE, available at: [accessed 18 May 2023]
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8 December 2017
Chad: Strike and demonstrations organized by teachers, including the demonstration of 25 January 2017 in N'Djamena; student participation in the strike and demonstrations; treatment of participants by the authorities (2016-December 2017)

Research Directorate, Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada, Ottawa

Sources report that Chad has been affected since September 2016 by a [translation] "public sector strike" (Amnesty International 22 Feb. 2017; RFI 28 Dec. 2016) or a [translation] "general strike" (APA News 11 Jan. 2017).

International Crisis Group explains the following:

[T]he rise in military spending along with mismanagement of oil revenues has come at a cost. ... [T]he government has introduced drastic budget cuts, affecting allowances for civil servants, parliamentarians and police, student scholarships and the staffing size of state agencies. The government has accumulated arrears in payments of salaries, allowances and pensions.

This situation has caused waves of strikes by teachers and other public sector workers. (International Crisis Group 8 Sept. 2017)

Sources indicate that the three main labour unions forming the platform of striking unions are the Union of Trade Unions of Chad (Union des syndicats du Tchad, UST), the Independent Confederation of Trade Unions of Chad (Confédération indépendante des syndicats du Tchad, CIST) and the National Union of University Teachers and Researchers (Syndicat national des enseignants-chercheurs du supérieur, SYNECS) (Le Pays 2 Feb. 2017; L'Humanité 12 Jan. 2017; APA News 11 Jan. 2017).

Sources note that a teacher strike started in Chad in September 2016 (RFI 28 Dec. 2016; AFP 13 Dec. 2016). Sources report that the teacher strike is part of a broader protest movement in civil society against an austerity campaign introduced by the government to deal with the fiscal crisis caused by low oil prices (Freedom House 12 July 2017; AFP 13 Dec. 2016). According to sources, the teachers are protesting against arrears in their salary payments (AFP 13 Dec. 2016) and the reduction of their benefits (RFI 28 Dec. 2016).

Freedom House reports that the students are also taking part in the protest movement (Freedom House 12 July 2017). Sources indicate that they are demanding payment of their scholarships, which were eliminated by the government (Freedom House 12 July 2017; VOA Afrique 28 Feb. 2017; RFI 14 Dec. 2016).

1. Strike Actions from December 2016 to January 2017

Agence France-Presse (AFP) reports that, in December 2016, as a result of the teachers' strike, three million public school students found themselves with nothing to do (AFP 13 Dec. 2016). According to the same source, the government called upon the teachers to go back to work and threatened to take legal action against them (AFP 13 Dec. 2016). Sources report that President Idriss Déby also threatened, in December 2016, to dissolve existing Chadian labour unions (Freedom House 12 July 2017; L'Humanité 12 Jan. 2017).

On 27 December 2016, according to sources, the Minister of National Education ordered classes to resume by 3 January 2017 (TchadConvergence 28 Dec. 2016), and the Chadian government announced that, as of January 2017, striking workers would no longer be paid (RFI 28 Dec. 2016). Radio France internationale (RFI) reports that on 30 December 2016, parliament approved the government's decision to stop paying workers for days they are on strike, in accordance with the bill providing that [translation] "'salaries for days not worked shall be at the expense of the unions, unless the reason is a generalized delay in the payment of salaries or attributable to the state. And in that case, the strike shall not continue for more than three days'" (RFI 31 Dec. 2016). Similarly, the French newspaper L'Humanité reports that, [translation] "[a]dopted on 30 December 2016, a new law directly challenges the right to strike, in violation of Conventions 87 [Freedom of Association and Protection of the Right to Organise Convention, 1948] and 98 [Right to Organise and Collective Bargaining Convention, 1949] of the International Labour Organization (ILO)" (L'Humanité 12 Jan. 2017). Amnesty International adds that "[a] new decree obligates unions to pay strike pay for lost days by government workers and creates a new list of essential services for which strikes can be banned" (Amnesty International 14 Sept. 2017, 7).

Sources report that the strikers, on 3 January 2017, refused to give in to the government's demand (RFI 6 Jan. 2017; DW 3 Jan. 2017). According to TchadConvergence, a movement describing itself as [translation] "the citizen awakening portal advocating for citizen involvement in the struggle against bad governance and poverty in Chad" (TchadConvergence n.d.), classes had not yet resumed and the only people present in public education institutions were administrators (TchadConvergence 4 Jan. 2017). The same source appends to its article a copy of a communiqué from the Chadian teachers' union (Syndicat des enseignants du Tchad) announcing that it would be engaging in civil disobedience that day and urging members to continue the strike, while inviting the government to dialogue (Syndicat des enseignants du Tchad 3 Jan. 2017).

2. Treatment of Participants

Referring to the strikes and demonstrations that took place in Chad in fall 2016, Freedom House indicates that the Chadian authorities "repressed or banned" them and that these activities were met with "repression and violence" (Freedom House 12 July 2017). Similarly, International Crisis Group reports that the Chadian government reacted to the striking teachers and other public sector workers "with repression and a clampdown on civil liberties" and that reports of "harassment, arbitrary arrests, ill-treatment and torture of journalists, civil society activists and political opponents have increased" (International Crisis Group 8 Sept. 2017). An article in L'Humanité from 12 January 2017, reporting on the refusal by the Chadian authorities to grant visas to French unionists who wanted to travel to Chad to support the protesters, states the following:


The government's response boils down to one word: repression. For example, on 6 December [2016], as women demanding payment of their salaries were preparing for a demonstration in the capital, with the support of the unions and civil society organizations, the labour exchange (Bourse du travail) was cordoned off by soldiers deploying heavy weapons. (L'Humanité 12 Jan. 2017)

The same source indicates that, in January 2017, the union platform's base was [translation] "exhausted by the repression, pressure and intimidation from the authorities" (L'Humanité 12 Jan. 2017). According to sources, in December 2016, parents called upon by pressure groups to come and demonstrate in front of two schools in N'Djamena to support the teachers did not respond to the call out of fear of the authorities (RFI 14 Dec. 2016; AFP 13 Dec. 2016).

3. Suspension of the Strike from January to March 2017

Sources report that SYNECS leaders met with the Minister of Higher Education on 9 January 2017 and, threatened by the Chadian authorities with dissolution if they did not end their strike action and suspend their president, who had joined the Citizen Awakening Movement (Mouvement d'éveil citoyen, MECI) [1], abandoned their strike and called for academic activities to resume (Amnesty International 14 Sept. 2017, 30; VOA Afrique 10 Jan. 2017).

According to several sources, the union platform then announced that it too would be suspending the general strike for one month (BBC 13 Jan. 2017; L'Humanité 12 Jan. 2017; APA News 11 Jan. 2017). According to a press release dated 11 January 2017 and published on the TchadConvergence news website, the platform announced its [translation] "decision to suspend the strike throughout the whole territory for a 30-day period starting 12 January 2017" in order to "give the government the opportunity to make every effort to find adequate responses [to their] demands" (Union platform 11 Jan. 2017).

On the official website of the president of Chad, in the news summary for the week of Friday, 13 January 2017, it is indicated that [translation] "[t]he Chadian Teachers' Union (SET) is pleased that the platform has temporarily suspended the strike and urges the government to start a frank dialogue around the specific demands as soon as possible in order to lead the country out of this crisis once and for all" (Chad 13 Jan. 2017).

The Chadian newspaper Le Pays described the situation as follows on 12 January 2017:


At the University of Farcha (Faculty of Pure and Applied Science), some students are circulating between classrooms and the main entrance. Some offices have remained closed, but in some departments the courses have partially started. "Teachers and students are having classes while others are still trying to figure out when classes are going to resume officially," says a teacher. The University of Toukra is totally deserted. The doors are closed, only a few department heads are present. No teachers, no students. Not even a sign of a potential resumption of classes. The amphitheatres closed, no electricity. "The white guy started up the generator yesterday, but there aren't any students and teachers, so he decided to shut it back down and wait until Monday," a guard tells us.

At the University of Ardep-Djoumal, teachers and students jostle in the courtyard. The classrooms are crowded with people. However, in the big high schools of the capital, one notices the presence of administrators, teachers and a few pupils. The same is true in most of the institutions we visited, where only a few employees will come in to the office. Many are department heads. (Le Pays 12 Jan. 2017, italics in original)

Sources report that the government and the unions were in negotiations between 12 January 2017 and 12 February 2017 (La Tribune Afrique 13 Feb. 2017; RFI 12 Feb. 2017; Le Pays 11 Feb. 2017). According to some sources, the National Committee for Social Dialogue (Comité national de dialogue social, CNDS) acted as a mediator in the negotiations ( 3 Mar. 2017; RFI 12 Feb. 2017).

On 11 February 2017, according to some sources, the platform decided to continue suspending the strike for three more weeks, until 6 March 2017 ( 3 Mar. 2017; La Tribune Afrique 13 Feb. 2017; Le Pays 11 Feb. 2017). On 6 March 2017, according to other sources, a memorandum of understanding extending the suspension of the general strike was signed by the Chadian government and the union platform to allow both parties to agree on two unresolved bargaining items (RFI 8 Mar. 2017; APA News 6 Mar. 2017).

Sources report that the negotiations between the government and the unions continued until July 2017, at which point the latter decided to withdraw (RFI 12 July 2017; Zaman 11 July 2017). Press articles from November 2017 refer to new threats of strike action by the teachers (Journal du Tchad 7 Nov. 2017; DW 2 Nov. 2017).

4. Teacher Demonstration on 25 January 2017 in N'Djamena

Information on a demonstration organized by teachers in N'Djamena on 25 January 2017 could not be found among the sources consulted by the Research Directorate within the time constraints of this Response.

5. Student Demonstrations

Sources indicate that students continued to demonstrate during this period:

  • Articles from January 2017 refer to a student-led [translation] "burn your diplomas" operation in front of the national assembly in N'Djamena to protest the lack of jobs (BBC 31 Jan. 2017; Africanews 31 Jan. 2017; DW 30 Jan. 2017);
  • On 14 February, demonstrating students from the Toukra campus in N'Djamena expressed their anger at the government, which was still refusing to pay their scholarships (VOA Afrique 14 Feb. 2017; 14 Feb. 2017);
  • On 25 February 2017, several dozen students were arrested for disrupting a visit by the Minister of Higher Education and his Senegalese counterpart to the University of N'Djamena (VOA Afrique 28 Feb. 2017; APA News 28 Feb. 2017; Alwihda Info 25 Feb. 2017);
  • In late February-early March, a demonstration was violently repressed over a period of two days at the Lycée de Walia in the 9th district of N'Djamena (Alwihda Info 2 Mar. 2017; VOA Afrique 28 Feb. 2017).

Sources from October 2017 described an uncertain return to school (Journal du Tchad 16 Oct. 2017) and reported that the Chadian government was trying to avoid another strike (VOA Afrique 12 Oct. 2017). Information on whether Chadian students are continuing their protests could not be found among the sources consulted by the Research Directorate within the time constraints of this Response.

This Response was prepared after researching publicly accessible information currently available to the Research Directorate within time constraints. This Response is not, and does not purport to be, conclusive as to the merit of any particular claim for refugee protection. Please find below the list of sources consulted in researching this Information Request.


[1] The Citizen Awakening Movement [translation] "br[ought] together civil society organizations, unions and political parties and … was described as 'unnatural' and 'without any legal basis' by the Minister of Territorial Administration in January 2017" (Amnesty International 14 Sept. 2017, 7).


Africanews. 31 January 2017. "Tchad : exaspérés par le chômage, des étudiants brûlent leurs diplômes." [Accessed 23 Nov. 2017]

Agence France-Presse (AFP). 13 December 2016. "Chad's Empty Schools Force 3 Mn Pupils to Fill the Time." [Accessed 21 Nov. 2017]

Alwihda Info. 2 March 2017. Djimet Wiche Wahili. "Tchad : colère contre les violences policières et cours suspendus au Lycée de Walia." [Accessed 28 Nov. 2017]

Alwihda Info. 25 February 2017. Djimet Wiche Wahili. "Tchad : une quarantaine d'étudiants arrêtés et plusieurs blessés après une émeute." [Accessed 27 Nov. 2017]

Amnesty International. 14 September 2017. Entre récession et répression : le coût élevé de la dissidence au Tchad. [Accessed 22 Nov. 2017]

Amnesty International. 22 February 2017. "Tchad." Amnesty International - Rapport 2016/2017 : la situation des droits humains dans le monde. [Accessed 27 Nov. 2017]

Agence de presse africaine (APA News). 6 March 2017. "Tchad : poursuite des négociations sur fond de suspension de la grève générale." [Accessed 21 Nov. 2017]

Agence de presse africaine (APA News). 28 February 2017. "Perturbation visite ministérielle : 69 étudiants tchadiens condamnés un mois ferme." [Accessed 27 Nov. 2017]

Agence de presse africaine (APA News). 11 January 2017. "Tchad : la grève générale suspendue pour un mois (syndicats)." [Accessed 22 Nov. 2017]

British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC). 31 January 2017. "Tchad : des étudiants brûlent leurs diplômes." [Accessed 23 Nov. 2017]

British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC). 13 January 2017. "Fin de la grève au Tchad." [Accessed 22 Nov. 2017]

Chad. 13 January 2017. La Présidence. "Synthèse du vendredi, le 13 janvier 2017." [Accessed 22 Nov. 2017]

Deutsche Welle (DW). 2 November 2017. Carole Assignon. "Tchad, menace d'une nouvelle grève des enseignants." [Accessed 1 Dec. 2017]

Deutsche Welle (DW). 30 January 2017. Blaise Dariustone. "Les jeunes tchadiens brûlent leurs diplômes." [Accessed 28 Nov. 2017]

Deutsche Welle (DW). 3 January 2017. Blaise Dariustone. "Les enseignants tchadiens continuent de faire l'école buissonnière." [Accessed 22 Nov. 2017]

Freedom House. 12 July 2017. "Chad." Freedom in the World 2017. [Accessed 21 Nov. 2017]

L'Humanité. 12 January 2017. "Au Tchad, 'les syndicalistes ne sont pas les bienvenus'." [Accessed 21 Nov. 2017]

International Crisis Group. 8 September 2017. "In Backing Chad, the West Faces Moral Hazards." [Accessed 22 Nov. 2017]

Journal du Tchad. 7 November 2017. "Éducation: les enseignants de N'Djaména menacent de grever." [Accessed 1 Dec. 2017]

Journal du Tchad. 16 October 2017. "La rentrée académique 2017-2018: les inscriptions dans les universités sont désormais payantes." [Accessed 1 Dec. 2017]

Le Pays. 11 February 2017. Bishop Saturnin. "La plateforme prolonge sa suspension de grève de trois semaines." [Accessed 23 Nov. 2017]

Le Pays. 2 February 2017. Madjiasra Nako. "L'impératif du dialogue." [Accessed 22 Nov. 2017]

Le Pays. 12 January 2017. Djimnayel Ngarlenan. "Les travailleurs tchadiens reprennent le chemin des bureaux pour un mois." [Accessed 22 Nov. 2017]

Plateforme syndicale. 11 January 2017. "Communiqué de presse N°8/UST-CIST-SYNEOCS/2017." [Accessed 23 Nov. 2017]

Radio France internationale (RFI). 12 July 2017. "Mécontentement dans la fonction publique au Tchad : pas d'accord en vue." [Accessed 1 Dec. 2017]

Radio France internationale (RFI). 8 March 2017. "Grogne sociale au Tchad : protocole d'accord entre gouvernement et syndicats." [Accessed 22 Nov. 2017]

Radio France internationale (RFI). 12 February 2017. "Tchad: les grévistes donnent trois semaines de plus au gouvernement." [Accessed 23 Nov. 2017]

Radio France internationale (RFI). 6 January 2017. "Grogne sociale au Tchad : les syndicats suspendent le service minimum." [Accessed 23 Nov. 2017]

Radio France internationale (RFI). 31 December 2016. "Tchad : les journées de grève ne seront plus payées." [Accessed 23 Nov. 2017]

Radio France internationale (RFI). 28 December 2016. "Grève des enseignants au Tchad : le gouvernement monte au créneau." [Accessed 21 Nov. 2017]

Radio France internationale (RFI). 14 December 2016. "Grève des profs au Tchad: des organisations appellent à 'sauver l'école'." [Accessed 21 Nov. 2017]

Syndicat des enseignants du Tchad. 3 January 2017. Mahama Djibrine Saleh. "Communiqué de presse N°001/SET/BEN/SG/2017." [Accessed 23 Nov. 2017]

TchadConvergence. 11 January 2017. "Crise sociale au Tchad : les syndicats accordent un répit d'un mois au gouvernement pour 'trouver des réponses adéquates' à leurs revendications." [Accessed 23 Nov. 2017]

TchadConvergence. 4 January 2017. "Rentrée scolaire au Tchad : le Syndicat des enseignants maintient la grève et dénonce une 'dérive dictatoriale' du gouvernement." [Accessed 23 Nov. 2017]

TchadConvergence. 28 December 2016. "Tchad : le ministre de l'Éducation nationale décrète la fin de la grève des enseignants au mépris des syndicats." [Accessed 23 Nov. 2017]

TchadConvergence. N.d. "À propos." [Accessed 23 Nov. 2017] 3 March 2017. "Gouvernement-Syndicats : intenses négociations pour éviter une grève le 6 mars prochain." [Accessed 22 Nov. 2017] 14 February 2017. "Tchad : grogne des étudiants du campus universitaire de Toukra." [Accessed 23 Nov. 2017]

La Tribune Afrique. 13 February 2017. Didier Assogba. "Tchad : les Centrales syndicales prolongent la suspension de la grève." [Accessed 23 Nov. 2017]

Voice of America (VOA) Afrique. 12 October 2017. André Kodamdjingar. "Le gouvernement tchadien tente d'éviter les grèves pour la nouvelle année universitaire." [Accessed 1 Dec. 2017]

Voice of America (VOA) Afrique. 28 February 2017. André Kodmadjingar. "69 étudiants condamnés pour 'outrage à l'autorité de l'État' au Tchad." [Accessed 27 Nov. 2017]

Voice of America (VOA) Afrique. 14 February 2017. André Kodmadjingar. "La grogne des étudiants tchadiens continue." [Accessed 21 Nov. 2017]

Voice of America (VOA) Afrique. 10 January 2017. André Kodmadjingar. "Un syndicat abandonne la grève nationale dans l'enseignement au Tchad." [Accessed 21 Nov. 2017]

Zaman. 11 July 2017. "Tchad : les syndicats menacent de rompre la trêve sociale." [Accessed 1 Dec. 2017]

Additional Sources Consulted

Oral sources: Syndicat des enseignants du Tchad; teacher-researcher, Université de N'Djamena; Union des syndicats du Tchad.

Internet sites, including: Chad – Government;; Factiva; Human Rights Watch; International Crisis Group; IRIN; Organisation régionale africaine de la Confédération syndicale internationale (CSI-Afrique); Syndicat des enseignants du Tchad; UN – Refworld; US – Department of State.

Copyright notice: This document is published with the permission of the copyright holder and producer Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada (IRB). The original version of this document may be found on the offical website of the IRB at Documents earlier than 2003 may be found only on Refworld.

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