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International Committee for Solidarity with Rached Ghannouchi launched 1 year after his arrest

April 17, 2024 at 10:39 am

Ennahda leader Rached Ghannouchi in the capital Tunis, Tunisia on September 21, 2022 [Yassine Gaidi/Anadolu Agency]

One year after the Speaker of Tunisia’s Parliament and head of Ennahda Party,Rached Ghannouchi, “was unjustly detained at his home”, a group of statesmen and women and intellectuals from around the world have announced the formation of the International Committee for Solidarity with Rached Ghannouchi.

In a statement they said: “At 82 years of age, he is the oldest prisoner of conscience in the Arab world and one of the oldest prisoners of conscience in the world.”

He was arrested from his home on the night of 17 April 2023 and “taken to an unknown location, denied access to a lawyer, and subjected to a lengthy and degrading interrogation,” the statement said.

His alleged crime? A speech at a public event held by the opposition National Salvation Front where he criticised the dissolution of the elected parliament, suspension of democratic institutions and illegitimate suspension of the constitution since July 25, 2021. In his speech, he warned against the dangers of repression and exclusion for political life and social cohesion

The statement, signed by former Tunisian President Moncef Marzouki and Nobel Peace Laureate Tawakkol Karman, continued.

READ: Ghannouchi’s son: ‘My father’s only crime was calling for democracy

His arrest had also come after two years of “regime persecution of the political opposition”, during which Ghannouchi was subjected to over 100 hours of lengthy interrogation and “media campaigns demonising and defaming Mr Ghannouchi, along with members of his family.”

This, they said, “is part of the Tunisian authorities’ systematic dismantling of the democratic institutions painstakingly built over a decade of democratic transition. In their place, a new system of authoritarian one-man rule has been put in place through an array of unconstitutional executive decrees. These have turned the judiciary into a tool for persecuting critics and throwing dozens of political figures, civil society activists, judges, lawyers, trade unionists, and journalists into jail.”

New laws put in place by President Kais Saied have severely curtailed free speech in the media and on social media platforms and are being used to silence dissent, opposition groups have warned. Altogether, more than 100 prisoners of conscience remain detained in Tunisian prisons.

In launching the new body, the International Committee for Solidarity with Rached Ghannouchi, the activists aim to:

– Express solidarity with Rached Ghannouchi and raise awareness of his intellectual and political contributions as a pioneer of the compatibility of democracy and Islamic moderation in Tunisia and the world.

– Call for the release of Ghannouchi and all political prisoners in Tunisia unconditionally, lifting all restrictions on their freedom, and annulling all judicial rulings against them.

– End the use of the judiciary against Ghannouchi and all members of the opposition, and an end to targeted campaigns against them by the Tunisian authorities using executive, judicial and media institutions.

– Call on governments, NGos and human rights bodies around the world to act to demand that Tunisian authorities release all prisoners of conscience and respect their obligations under international law.

Click here to read the names of those who have joined the International Committee for Solidarity with Rached Ghannouchi.

READ: Ghannouchi’s letter from a Tunisian prison