08 September 2022
The duty of solidarity - an international petition to demand the release of the Tunisian journalist-activist: Ghassen Ben Khelifa on "the link"
On Tuesday 6 September 2022, at 11am, in Tunis, a dozen members of the special security forces in civilian clothes searched the home of journalist and political activist Ghassen Ben Khelifa, coordinator of the website Inhiyez, and President of the Association “the Media workshop for socio-economic rights – Al Warcha”. His mobile phone and computers were confiscated at his home, and he was then taken under arrest to his parents’ home for a search by the anti-terrorist brigade.
After this abduction, Ghassen was transferred to an unknown destination. There were conflicting statements from security officials about his place of detention, between Al Gorjani prison, the Public Prosecutor’s Office and the anti-terrorist judicial centre in Charguia.
The police services did not explain the reasons for the arrest and Ghassen was not entitled to his civil rights as a Tunisian citizen ; namely his right to have lawyers with him during the investigation. In the last hours of the night, news began to spread here and there about his place of detention, after the contradictory statements by the security services in this regard. The place of detention was finally fixed at the judicial centre for the fight against terrorism, where he has been held.
The suspicion of terrorism is a false concocted accusation
Ghassen Ben Khelifa is known in Tunisian political circles, and in the Arab world in general, for his activity as a progressive grassroots activist, supporter of all social causes and in solidarity with the people from below. He is a dedicated person committed to the just causes of the peoples of North Africa and the Middle East/Arab region and beyond. He never shirked his duty of solidarity with the oppressed wherever they are. Ghassen, the progressive journalist and leftist activist, has been involved in various organisations, initiatives and social struggles :
- President of the association “the Media workshop for socio-economic rights – Al Warcha”, and editor-in-chief of the media site Inhiyez,
- Member of the North African Food Sovereignty Network (NAFSN – Siyada),
- Member of the Coordination of Collective Action for Palestine,
- The Tunisian Boycott and Anti-Normalisation Campaign – BDS,
- Member of the Organising Committee of the North African School of Popular Education,
- Member of the campaign in support to social movements and mobilisations in Tunisia – Isned
- Member of the Tunisian Committee of Solidarity with the activist Georges Ibrahim Abdallah,
- Member of the campaign to support the movements of small-scale farmers and unemployed youth throughout Tunisia: El Kamour, Al Houaidia, Siliana, Ouled Jaballah, etc.
This list of just causes, which are certainly light years away from terrorism, can only be embraced by honest and tireless activists of Ghassen’s calibre who fights unremittingly for a just society based on distribution of wealth, equality, radical democracy and a meaningful freedom of expression, causes to which he has devoted all his time and energy.
Background to the arrest
Ghassen’s arrest comes at a time of the prevailing counter-revolutionary wave in our region, which seeks to silence all progressive and revolutionary voices that challenge and disrupt the status quo of those who are above, i.e. the tyrannical powers, the oppressors of the people, the normalizers with the Zionist state and the lackeys of imperialism. This is a context for all kinds of restrictions on organisations, journalists and activists, from besieging and prosecuting them to repressing and suppressing peaceful movements, as was the case with the repression of the small-scale farmers’ movement in Ouled Jaballah and others.
Ghassen Ben Khelifa, an uncompromising ally of the working classes and the downtrodden and who openly defends their causes, has never failed to show solidarity or support for movements throughout the Tunisian Republic, in North Africa, in the Arab region and beyond. He is clearly a dissident voice for the Tunisian regime and a living example of the activist that the ruling classes fear will be emulated by the youth. That is why he is being persecuted for fallacious suspicions of terrorism.
We strongly believe that progressive organisations, activists, journalists and human rights groups in Tunisia and outside it have a responsibility to defend Ghassen Ben Khelifa and uphold the exercise of all his human rights, including his immediate and unconditional release.
We, the North African Food Sovereignty Network and the North Africa/Arab Region School of Popular Education, declare the following:
- Our absolute condemnation of the police arrest of Ghassen Ben Khelifa and the intimidation his family has suffered,
- Our full solidarity with Ghassen’s family in their current ordeal against his arrest and continued detention,
- We affirm that our comrade Ghassen is a serious grassroots activist who has been an important voice critical of the Tunisian ruling elites that now seek to falsely accuse him of terrorism, in order to take revenge on him for his just positions against the exploitation of Tunisian working people, against the neocolonial plunder taking place in his country, against the various attempts at normalisation with the Zionist state as well as against the subordination to imperialism and tyranny,
- We call on the Tunisian authorities to immediately release Ghassen, drop the charges against him and grant his freedom,
- We also salute all the lawyers who are supporting Ghassen in these difficult times, and we pay homage to all those who have shown solidarity with him.
- We are determined to continue and encourage this show of solidarity until our comrade is released.
We also call on all Tunisian trade unions, political, human rights and associative structures to do their best in defending our friend Ghassen Ben Khelifa by constituting a national and international solidarity committee for his unconditional release.
- North African Food Sovereignty Network (NAFSN – Siyada)
- North African School of Popular Education
To support the journalist-activist: Ghassen Ben Khelifa, and to demand the Tunisian authorities' immediate release of him, please sign and share the following petition on:the link