English PEN is deeply concerned at reports that the health of ailing imprisoned journalist and writer Taoufik Ben Brik is deteriorating as a result of poor treatment in prison.
According to our information, Ben Brik suffers from Cushing’s Syndrome, a chronic ailment that weakens immunity and requires that he be under medical supervision. The journalist is currently serving a six-month prison term for assault, damaging property, harming public decency, and defamation, although it is widely believed he is targeted for having published articles critical of President Ben Ali in the foreign press during the election campaign of October 2009.
English PEN respectfully calls on the Tunisian authorities to ensure Taoufik Ben Brik receives the medical attention he requires as a matter of urgency. We also demand his immediate and unconditional release on humanitarian grounds and in accordance with Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Tunisia is a signatory.
The following is part of a statement issued by the Observatoire pour la Liberté de Presse, d’édition et de Creation (OLPEC), on 8 January 2010. For the full statement please click here.
Imprisoned journalist’s health deteriorating, family launches hunger strike
(OLPEC/IFEX) – OLPEC is extremely concerned by journalist and writer Taoufik Ben Brik’s declining health. His family, which visited him on 6 January 2010, told OLPEC of a worrying deterioration of his health due to negligence by prison authorities and the poor hygiene conditions to which he has been subjected in Siliana prison, where he was transferred illegally as a retaliatory measure.
His doctors recently published a statement in which they drew attention to the fragility of his health, stating that “his state of health and his hormonal treatment are at the origin of a significant weakness in his immune system. His condition requires regular follow-up and monitoring by a competent medical specialist. Strict hygiene standards must be respected to avoid any deterioration that could threaten his prognosis.”
Ben Brik’s wife, sister and brothers, whose homes are under constant police surveillance, have decided to launch a hunger strike starting on 6 January to protest “this slow death to which he is being subjected.”
Ben Brik was sentenced on 26 November 2009 at the conclusion of an unfair trial to six months in prison for having published articles critical of President Ben Ali in the foreign press during the election campaign.
The October 2009 elections were a time of unprecedented repression by the authorities against journalists who dared to criticise them.
Please send appeals (in French if possible):
– Calling for the immediate release of Taoufik Ben Brik on humanitarian grounds and in accordance with Article 19 of the United Nations International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights;
– Seeking reassurances from the Tunisian authorities that Taoufik Ben Brik receives the medical care he urgently requires.
Zine El Abidine Ben Ali
Fax: 216 71 744 721
Minister of Justice and Human Rights
Ministry of Justice and Human Rights
31 boulevard Bab Benat
Tunis 1019, Tunisia
Fax: 216 71 568 106
Directeur général des prisons
Rue 8003, Appartement -L-
Espace de Tunis Monplaisir
Fax: 216 71 904 472
You may also wish to send copies of your appeal to the Tunisian Embassy in the UK inviting their comments:
Her Excellency Mrs Hamida Mrabet Labidi
29 Prince’s Gate
Fax: 020 7225 2884
Originally posted with the url: www.englishpen.org/writersinprison/bulletins/tunisiawritershealthdeterioratesinprison/