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Tunisia: Political Dissidents on Hunger Strike Over Gaza War, Saied’s Political Trials

In Tunisia, six political detainees are set to embark on a symbolic hunger strike, starting this weekend, in protest of Israel’s war on Gaza and the shrinking freedoms in the North African state.

“On the occasion of Human Rights Day, we, the political detainees in the Mornaguia prison, announce to public opinion that we will enter into a symbolic hunger strike on Sunday, 10 December 2023, in denunciation of the brutal Israeli aggression against our people in the Gaza Strip,” reads a press release published by the coalition of political detainees families on Thursday 7 December.

The hunger strikers include the Secretary-General of the Republican Party, Issam Chebbi, former Secretary-General of the Democratic Current, Ghazi Al-Shawashi, former Ennahda party leader Abdelhamid Al-Jelassi, and political activist Khiyam Al-Turki.

The imprisoned members of the National Salvation Front, Jauhar Ben Mubarak and Ridha Belhadj, will also join the strike.

According to the press release, the symbolic hunger strike is also a denunciation of “serious and escalating human rights violations in Tunisia, and politically motivated trials.”

All strikers had been held under an initial pre-trial detention order of six months, which the investigative judge renewed after it expired on 22 August. 

On 10 October, Right Group Amnesty International called on the Tunisian government to drop “trumped-up charges” against arbitrarily detained political dissidents.

“The Tunisian authorities have carried out a political witch-hunt rounding up opposition figures and misusing the judicial system to suppress the right to freedom of expression and crackdown on political dissent,” said Heba Morayef, Amnesty International’s Director for the Middle East and North Africa, in Amnesty’s October report.

Since February 2023, Tunisian authorities have opened criminal investigations against at least 40 people on accusations concerning charges of conspiracy that Amnesty International has deemed to be unfounded. 

In Tunis, hundreds of activists are set to take to the streets on Human Rights Day to call for the release of all political prisoners and the end of the unjust political trials targeting Saied’s opponents.

Source: The New Arab