Tunisia: Activist briefly detained and assaulted

English PEN is calling on its members to join the protests by the Tunisian Monitoring Group (TMG) about the attack against journalist and human rights activist Sihem Bensedrine and her husband Omar Mestiri on their arrival in Tunisia on 3 March 2008.

Bensedrine is the Secretary General of the Observatory for the Freedom of Press, Publishing and Creation in Tunisia (OLPEC) and is also spokesperson of the National Council for Liberties in Tunisia (CNLT). Her husband, Mestiri, is the managing editor of the on-line magazine Kalima (www.kalimatunisie.com) which is blocked within Tunisia.

Upon arrival in the port of La Goulette on 3 March 2008, the two activists were held by customs for six hours. The customs agents confiscated their cell phones, documents and computer hard discs, and copied the files and passwords from their laptops. Furthermore, during this time the couple were physically assaulted, and Bensedrine was left with bruises on her body.

It is hard to believe that just days before International Women’s Day, the government of Tunisia would sanction such a vicious attack on a woman, particularly in light of the recent attack on Samia Abbou and Fatma Ksila, two female activists who were assaulted by police in Sousse on 18 February.

Bensedrine herself has previously been assaulted on numerous occasions, including while in prison in 2001. She has suffered broken ribs and other injuries, and been called vicious names in the pro-government media for her outspoken campaign for democracy and free expression in Tunisia.

For her work, she has been awarded the 2008 Danish Peace Award and the Canadian Journalists for Free Expression (CJFE) 2004 International Press Freedom Award.


Please send appeals:

– Protesting the attack on Bensedrine and Mestiri and calling on the Tunisian authorities to fully investigate these apparent police excesses.

– Calling for an end to such brutal attacks on internet writers and other activists in Tunisia.


Président Zine El Abidine Ben Ali

Président de la République

Palais Présidentiel



Fax: 216 71 744 721


It may be more effective, however, to send appeal letters to the Tunisian embassy:


HE Mrs Hamida M’rabet Labidi

29 Prince’s Gate



Originally posted with the url: www.englishpen.org/writersinprison/bulletins/tunisiaactivistbrieflydetainedandassaulted/

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