Working with Human Rights First, we won asylum for “Ahmed Abakar,” a young man who was repeatedly targeted because of his family’s pro-democracy views and their involvement in a political party that opposed the President of the Republic of Chad.
Throughout Mr. Abakar’s childhood, President Déby’s regime suppressed dissent through terror, inflicting serious human rights abuses on actual and suspected political opponents and their families. These abuses included arbitrary detention, torture, extrajudicial killings, and other forms of persecution.
In February 2008, the Chadian government arrested Mr. Abakar’s brother, father, and uncle (who was the founder of an opposing political party). Mr. Abakar’s father and uncle were never released from prison and are presumed dead. His brother managed to escape, but was tortured while imprisoned and died a year later in a refugee camp in Cameroon, probably as a result of the injuries he sustained in prison. On the day of the arrests, the military ransacked Mr. Abakar’s family home, and the remaining members of the family fled Chad in fear for their lives.
Mr. Abakar joined his family in Cameroon and then moved to Algeria, where he was able to go to school and study economics. The political party his family had founded remained active in Chad and gained supporters in France, who were calling for an investigation into the disappearance of Mr. Abakar’s father and uncle.
Mr. Abakar continued voicing his political views and organizing Chadian students and others who opposed President Déby. He spoke publicly about the arrest and presumed murder of his family members, and this once again made him a target of the Chadian government, whose reach does not end at its borders. Chadian agents and their paid henchmen attacked Mr. Abakar twice while he was a student in Algeria; the second time they tried to kill him, but bystanders intervened in what they presumed was a robbery. Mr. Abakar knew he was no longer safe in Algeria and had to flee the continent.
Mr. Abakar’s grandfather helped him obtain a student visa to travel to the United States. With assistance from Human Rights First and the firm, he petitioned for and was granted asylum, successfully arguing that he was persecuted by the Chadian government because of his political opinions and familial connections to the leaders of an opposing political party. Mr. Abakar looks forward one day to becoming a citizen of the United States, where he can safely participate in the democratic process.