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Tunisia: National Salvation Front demands political prisoner release to stop protests

March 25, 2023 at 12:02 pm

Chairman of the Shura (Consultative) Council of the Ennahda Movement, Abdel Karim al-Harouni in Tunis, Tunisia. [Yassine Gaidi – Anadolu Agency]

The Tunisian opposition, the National Salvation Front, on Friday demanded the release of political prisoners arrested since last February in exchange for stopping its protest movements.

This came in a speech by leader Abdel Karim Harouni during a protest vigil in the capital, Tunis, to demand the release of the detainees, in which dozens participated, according to Anadolu Agency.

“Our comrades and friends who are in a high state of morale, believing that freedoms are being taken away and not threatened, are now political detainees, opponents and prisoners of opinion,” Harouni asserted.

“We are in contact with the lawyers and families of the detainees, and we are surprised that the authorities continue their silence and refusal to confront the truth of the charges against the dissidents who have been isolated and placed in prisons,” he added.

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Harouni called for: “Granting the detainees all the requirements of dignity and respect. The recently improved conditions were due to visits and monitoring requests from local and international human rights organisations. Those in charge of prisons should distinguish between politicians, dissidents and prisoners of opinion, and the rest of the prisoners of the general right.”

The participants in the vigil called by the front chanted slogans such as: “Freedom for all political detainees”, “no surrender of freedoms”, “down with the coup” and “no to military courts for civilian cases”.

The National Salvation Front was founded on 31 May, 2022, and among its participants are: the Ennahda Movement, the Amal Movement, the Tunisia Movement of Will, the Dignity Coalition, Heart of Tunisia, the Citizens’ movement against the Coup, the Democratic Initiative, the National Salvation Meeting, the Tunisia Movement for Democracy, the Meeting for Tunisia, the Youth Meeting for Democracy and Social Justice and the Coordination of Parliament Representatives.

Tunisian authorities have not yet commented on these accusations but usually deny them and affirm their commitment to freedoms and the independence of the judiciary.

Since 11 February, a campaign of arrests has been launched in Tunisia, including politicians, media professionals, activists, judges and businesspeople.

President Kais Saied denies the arrests are political and accuses some of those arrested of: “Conspiring against state security and standing behind the crises of distribution of goods and rising prices.”

READ: Tunisia: Ennahda calls for the release of detainees