Public sector workers in Chad have been on strike since negotiations on wage increases broke down in July. The workers recently decided to suspend their strike to allow time for mediation initiated by religious leaders to succeed.
The situation between the government and the Union des syndicats du Tchad (UST) was escalating, as workers threatened to close all government offices, including emergencies in hospitals.
But despite the religious leaders' mediation assistance, the government took the unionists to court, accusing them of inciting hatred and tribal uprising.
The president of the UST, Michel Barka, along with his vice president Younous Mahadjir and general secretary François Djondang were sentenced to an 18 months in prison, and fined one million CFA francs (1500 euros). Another member of the UST was sentenced to three months in prison for having smiled in the courtroom.
At the moment, the UST is raising money for the appeal, and asks unions around the world to send a protest letter to the government.
Send your protest letter as soon as possible to