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Tunisia: Ennahda calls for the release of detainees

March 21, 2023 at 10:25 am

Supporters of Ennahda in Tunis, Tunisia on September 19, 2022 [Yassine Gaidi/Anadolu Agency]

Tunisia’s Ennahda movement yesterday affirmed that it is continuing its “peaceful struggle” to confront the authority’s policies that violate public and individual freedoms, calling for the release of all political prisoners opposed to the policies of President Kais Saied.

This came in a statement issued by the movement on the occasion of Tunisia’s commemoration of the 67th anniversary of its independence from the French occupation (1881-1956), which falls on 20 March every year.

Ennahda said: “We express our pride in the struggle of the proud Tunisian people to liberate the country and achieve independence and affirm our eternal loyalty to the martyrs who sacrificed their pure blood and pure lives for the sake of Tunisia’s independence and the freedom of its people.”

It called for “the release of all political detainees, who were subjected to abuse and torture, and the fabrication of false charges against them because of their rejection of the coup, “ in reference to special measures announced by Saied on 25 July 2021.

Ennahda noted that “its peaceful and persistent struggle with the national forces, led by the National Salvation Front, continues to confront the authority’s policies that violate public and individual freedoms.”

READ: National Salvation Front sit-in calls for detainee release

Since 11 February Tunisia has been witnessing a campaign of arrests that included politicians, media professionals, activists, judges, and businessmen, some of whom Saied accused of “conspiring against state security and involvement in crises in the distribution of goods, and high prices.”Saied repeatedly stressed the independence of the judicial authorities, but the opposition accused him of using the judiciary to pursue those who rejected his measures.

Saied’s most prominent measures included dissolving the Judicial Council and Parliament, issuing legislation by presidential decrees, approving a new constitution through a referendum in July 2022, and holding early legislative elections last December. Both votes have been met with a low voter turnout.

Saied, who began a five-year presidential term in 2019, said that his measures were “necessary and legal” to save the state from what he called “total collapse.”