Africans Rising made a promise in the Kilimanjaro Declaration, both to itself and to the people of Africa to be the first to stand in solidarity with our brothers and sisters in times of crises. The movement has shown solidarity with struggles during the political impasse in The Gambia and, in Cameroon when the Internet was shut down. In both instances, the rights of people were being denied and, Africans Rising sent solidarity missions to listen to the people of those countries and demonstrate Pan-African solidarity.
In August, widespread pro-democracy protests erupted across Togo, in Lome and other towns, in neighbouring countries and, in Europe. Led largely by the political opposition, protesters are demanding an end to the country’s 50-year ruling dynasty. They are calling for constitutional reforms, including the reinstatement of a two-term limit for president. President Faure Gnassingbe, already in his third term, has been in power since 2005, when he took the reigns after the death of his father, Eyadema Gnassingbe who ruled over Togo for 38 years.
During the current protests some 200 people have lost their lives, a large number have been forced to migrate (some estimates put this figure in the thousands) and a number of people have been detained and tortured by government security forces, foremost among these being the Serious Crimes Unit of the Togo Police.
In September African Rising issued a statement in solidarity with the people of Togo and, after an evaluation of the situation and, informed by contacts on the ground, we reached consensus on the need to urgently send a Pan-African solidarity mission as our practical response to this brewing political crisis.
The purpose of this mission was to better understand the dynamics of the public protests and, to explore ways to play a constructive role in efforts to secure lasting, peaceful and just resolutions to the political crisis facing the country.
The four-person delegation was made up of Africans Rising Coordinator Muhammed Lamin Saidykhan (The Gambia), Rohkaya Dieye (Senegal) and, Chantal Nare (Burkina Faso), with support from local journalist Kevin Soncy.
Given that Africans Rising is committed to working with all parties in any conflict, the delegation prepared to meet with representatives of government, civil society organisations (CSOs) such as Front Citoyen Togo Debout and other stakeholders.
The solidarity mission arrived in Lome on Monday 9th October and was scheduled to depart on Friday, 13th October. In the early hours of the morning of their departure, the Serious Crimes Unit of the Togo Police detained the Africans Rising delegation, confiscating their laptops and passports. This (as yet unexplained) action delayed the mission departure until 17th October.