International PEN joins the protests by the Tunisian Monitoring Group (TMG) against the attack on journalist and human-rights activist Sihem Bensedrine and her husband, Omar Mestiri, editor and managing editor respectively of the online magazine Kalima, which is blocked within Tunisia.

Background Information

Sihem Bensedrine is the Secretary General of the Observatory for the Freedom of Press, Publishing and Creation in Tunisia (OLPEC), IFEX’s member in Tunisia and an IFEX-TMG partner. She is also spokesperson of the National Council for Liberties in Tunisia (CNLT).

According to OLPEC’s vice-president Naziha Rjiba, the two activists arrived from Europe in the port of La Goulette. They were held by customs for six hours, during which time Bensedrine was violently attacked and left with bruises on her body. The customs agents confiscated cell phones, documents, and hard discs from Bensedrine and Mestiri, copying files and passwords from their laptops. This assault follows a recent attack on Samia Abbou and Fatma Ksila, two female activists who were assaulted by police in Sousse on February 18.

Bensedrine has previously been assaulted on numerous occasions, including while in prison in 2001. She has suffered broken ribs and other injuries, and has been called vicious names in the pro-government media for her outspoken campaign for democracy and free expression in Tunisia. She has been awarded the 2008 Danish Peace Award for her work, as well as other awards including the Canadian Journalists for Free Expression (CJFE) 2004 International Press Freedom Award.

PEN believes all activists and journalists in Tunisia deserve the same respect under the law of any citizen, and calls for the government to cease its brutal attacks. PEN also supports the complaint registered by Bensedrine and Mestiri against the customs agents for “brutality” and “false imprisonment.”

Write A Letter

(preferably in French)

  • calling for an end to attacks against Sihem Bensedrine and other Internet writers

Send Your Letter To

Président Zine El Abidine Ben Ali
Président de la République
Palais Présidentiel
Tunis Tunisie
Fax: + 216 71 744 721