Helping a Chadian defender of human rights
A friend writes:

Many have been active in various efforts to call attention to atrocities in Sudan and Darfur. I'm writing to introduce you to a human rights defender from that region, and to ask for your assistance in helping with his medical needs.

I work at Human Rights Watch, where I currently have the great fortune of sitting in the office next to one of the most extraordinary people I've ever met, Souleymane Guengueng, a Chadian human rights activist who worksclosely with several colleagues. He's an amazing, kind, warm and brave man, who is in the U.S. now for medical treatment for injuries suffere dafter being unjustly imprisoned and tortured in the 1980s. My office has raised most of the money for his treatment, but needs to raise some more.I'm writing to share this appeal for funds -- please share it with others, as appropriate.

Reed Brody, the attorney who has been working with Souleymane, sent me the appeal below. If you're interested in learning more about Souleymane, see these articles.

Please contact Reed Brody, brodyr@hrw.org, for further information.

From Reed Brody: Request

We are seeking to raise the last $10,000 needed for medical treatment forSouleymane Guengueng, one of our 2002 Human Rights Watch Monitors (total $40,000).

Souleymane Guengueng
Souleymane is the founder and Vice-President of the Chadian Association ofVictims of Political Repression and Crime (AVCRP), and is the main force behind the landmark effort to prosecute Chad’s former dictator Hissène Habré. As the New York Times said in its moving portrait of Souleymane, "on acontinent where ordinary men are tortured, killed and forgotten without asecond thought, Mr. Guengueng has done something extraordinary: fought back. After being unjustly imprisoned and tortured for two years in the late 1980's, he spent the next decade gathering testimony from fellow victims and their families. The evidence provided critical material forChadian and international human rights organizations to pursue a case against the country's former dictator, Hissene Habre."

France’s Liberation remarked that “a surprising tug of war pits this modest civil servant against the ex-dictator who bathed his country in blood.” Souleymane, falsely accused of supporting Habré’s opposition, lost much of his eyesight and almost died of dengue fever during two years of mistreatment in Habré's prisons, and watched hundreds of others succumb tomalaria, exhaustion, malnutrition and torture. When Habré fell, Souleymane and other former prisoners founded the AVCRP and gathered testimony from 792 victims, widows and orphans, hoping to use them to bring Habré to justice. When the new government recycled many of Habré's accomplices, however, Souleymane hid the files underneath the mud-brick home where he lives with the 24 members of his family, including nine children. That is where the files stayed for eight years until Souleymane handed them to a Human Rights Watch researcher in 1999. Since then, Souleymane has been the driving force behind this case. He has devoted all of his free time to the case – indeed his life is devoted to the case. He was recently fired from his civil service job because of this work.

Suleymane’s medical condition
When we brought Suleymane to the United States in late 2002 for the Human Rights Watch dinners, we were also able to get him two very successful eye operations and Souleymane can now see like a normal person. Thanks to our friends at the Bellevue/NYU Program for Survivors of Torture, we were able to have the operations done extremely cheaply.The bad news is that he was diagnosed with Hepatitis C, probably the result of a transfusion years back. The good news is that he has the strain that has an 80% chance of responding to a 6 month course of interferon treatment, which is what the doctors have strongly urged him to do to prevent potentially serious liver damage.

Souleymane Guengueng has become beloved to the staff of Human Rights Watch,and we have brought him back to carry out the difficult and debilitating interferon treatment. He has responded well to the first months of medication, though he had developed anemia, for which the doctors have prescribed additional medication.The total estimated budget is $39,860, or which we have already secured $29,000.

Checks should be made out to Human Rights Watch -- memo line "Souleymane Guengueng" -- and sent to Reed Brody, Human Rights Watch, 350 Fifth Avenue 34th Floor, NY, NY 10118.

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