Three students of a high school in Yembour, a surrounding community in the city of Dapaong in Northern Togo, who were arrested during a students’ demonstration, have been released after being detained without charge for seven days.
Kanfoire Kinonsoa, 18 years, Gbiak Mindabe and Kanloklare Sayabia, both 17 years, all students of the Yembour High School, were arrested on March 17, 2017 during a demonstration by students to demand government’s action to end to a teachers’ strike.
According to the MFWA correspondent in Togo, there have been a series of strikes in the education sector since the beginning of the 2016-2017 academic year. Following the latest strike action declared on March 6, 2017, students in various towns and cities across Togo also went on demonstrations to call for an end to the teachers’ strikes. It was during one of such demonstrations that the three teenage students were arrested and detained until March 24, 2017.
The release of the students followed negotiations between the gendarmerie of Dapaong and a combined delegation of two education unions, Coordination des Syndicats de l’Education du Togo, (CSET) and the Fédération Nationale des Syndicats de l’Education Nationale (FESEN).
On arrival at Dapaong from Lomé, Atchou Atcha, spokesperson for the delegation, explained their mission to newsmen.
“We are in Dapaong to seek the release of the students because we cannot have a section of the students receiving lessons while others are in prison.”
Atcha warned that despite being open to dialogue, the delegation did not rule out mass demonstration in case of a deadlock.
“We are waiting to see what happens in the next couple of days to decide at which point to revise our notes; if the outcome is not favourable, we will mobilise for action,” Atcha warned.
The MFWA welcomes the release of the teenage students, whose arrest and detention without charge is in itself a violation of their right freedom of assembly. We also call on the Togolese authorities to ensure that students’ right to peaceful processions are respected at all times.