Rose Lokissim, a prisoner executed in 1986 by the DDS, Hissène Habré’s political police.

(Paris, May 21, 2015) – A new short documentary narrated by the French actress Juliette Binoche shines a light on the upcoming trial of Hissène Habré, the former dictator of Chad, Human Rights Watch said today. “Talking about Rose” (“Parler de Rose”) tells the story of the life and death of Rose Lokissim, a prisoner killed in 1986 by the DDS, Habré’s political police.

Habré, accused of thousands of political killings and systematic torture from 1982 to 1990, will stand trial in Senegal on July 20, 2015, before the Extraordinary African Chambers created by Senegal and the African Union.

In “Talking about Rose,” directed by the Spanish filmmaker Isabel Coixet, Lokissim’s cellmates remember her for her courage. They describe how she kept up the prisoners’ morale and, risking her life, secretly sent messages through to relatives about their imprisoned loved ones. Ultimately the DDS learned of the messages and murdered her.

Among the DDS files Human Rights Watch uncovered in 2001 was the police report of Lokissim’s last interrogation. Lokissim’s questioner wrote in his report that she didn’t care what happened to her. Even if they killed her, she said, “Chad will thank her and history will talk about her.”

“With this movie, and the imminent trial of Hissène Habré, Rose Lokissim’s prophecy is coming true,” said Reed Brody, counsel for Human Rights Watch, who found her DDS files. “History is indeed talking about this courageous woman who gave her life for the cause of justice.”

The documentary also features those leading the victims’ quest for justice, such as the victims’ association president Clément Abaifouta and the lawyer Jacqueline Moudeina.

 

The New York Times has written that Habré’s “case has proved unusual for the tenacity of his victims, and of Human Rights Watch, in seeking to bring him to justice.” 

“The mission which Rose gave herself, to tell the world the truth about Hissène Habré’s prisons, is finally being achieved,” Binoche says in the film.

Twenty of Habré’s accomplices were convicted of torture in a separate trial in Chad in March.

Binoche is the first actress to win the so-called European Triple Crown (Best Actress awards at Cannes, Venice, and Berlin) for the films “Certified Copy,” “Three Colors: Blue,” and “The English Patient,” for which she also won the Oscar for Best Supporting Actress. Coixet has directed “My Life Without Me,” “Learning to Drive,” “Elegy,” and “The Secret Life of Words,” among others.

The film was funded in part by a grant from the Bertha Foundation in London.

“Talking about Rose” is now available on the internet at https://youtu.be/7DqJiIN2VBs.

The trailer (in French only) is available at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ykZYJXXUem0.

To watch “Talking about Rose” (“Parler de Rose”) (in French with English subtitles) please visit:
https://youtu.be/7DqJiIN2VBs.

To watch “Talking about Rose” (“Parler de Rose”) (in French without subtitles) please visit:
https://youtu.be/FQyWXdjY1Ms.