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Hunger strike by leaders of the Tunisian Progressive Democratic Party

 

I received the statement below from a Tunisian activist friend on new crackdowns on human rights in Tunisia

 

Hunger strike by leaders of the Tunisian Progressive Democratic Party

They came first for the Communists,

I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a Communist;

Then they came for the trade unionists,

I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a trade unionist;

Then they came for the Jews,

I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a Jew;

And then . . . they came for me . . .

There was no one left to speak up.

Martin Niemöller

 

The verdict to expel the Tunisian Progressive Democratic Party from its headquarters is expected tomorrow Monday 24th September 2007.

Ms. Maya Jribi and Mr. Nejib Chebbi are on an unlimited hunger strike to protest against these shameful practices to exploit the judicial system to silence the voices of freedom.

Speak up! It may be your last chance to do so!

Show your solidarity with the struggle of the Tunisian people for Freedom, Democracy and Dignity.

Diffuse this email to your contacts

For more details see below:

Ms Maya Jribi, the leader of the Tunisian Progressive Democratic Party (PDP, legal), and Mr Nejib Chebbi the party's founder and director of its official newspaper “Al-Mawkef” announced on Thursday 21st of September that they have started an unlimited hunger strike following threats to expel them from the office they use for their headquarters in the capital Tunis.

The two dissidents denounced the systematic exploitation of the judicial system by the government to silence all opposition voices and to shut any space open for free speech in the country.

This latest threat came when the owner of the premises claimed that the office was rented solely to the newspaper but has also been used, illegally, for the activities of a political party. The PDP, however, as many other parties in the country, used its offices for all its activities for at least 20 years including 13 years in the current office in which it held hundreds of public and private meetings and events. It is paramount to note that this owner who purchased the 80 square meters apartment in 1999 waited 8 full years before he realised he actually had objections to such activities!

For this reason, the PDP leaders insisted that this claim is politically motivated and has been provoked by the government. Actually this incident coincided with a national campaign aiming to end all forms of freedom of expression and independent political activity by depriving the opposition of having offices across the country. Recently, several local PDP branches faced the same fate and their offices have been shut after the owners were unable to resist the pressures exerted on them.

This threat comes in the wake of aggressions on Mr Chebbi by plain-clothed police who prevented him and other friends from having a drink (!!) in a café in the costal city of Nabeul. Lately several other PDP members, especially young people, were harassed and questioned by the police for several hours.

The Tunisian authorities do not appreciate the independent position categorically taken by the PDP, who refuses to play the role of a cartoon opposition party, especially in the eve of the general elections in 2009 hence the attempts to sideline it. The authorities do indeed realise that the PDP headquarters are paramount for its survival as the party frequently used it for its activities after it has systematically been denied access to other venues like public convention centres or hotels to organise its events. For instance, last August, a hotel in the suburbs of Tunis cancelled a reservation to hold a conference for the party’s youth following what is believed to be pressures exerted by the government. Failing to find any other hotel to accommodate the event (!!), the PDP was eventually forced to hold it in its headquarters.

All members of the Progressive Democratic Party are more than ever adamant to resist this latest threat and urge all defenders of human rights, freedom of expression and freedom of assembly to fight with them these aggressions that shame our beloved country and hinder its deserved progress towards democracy and prosperity.

 

 

PDP

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