PEN International strongly condemns the killing, mass arrests, and disappearances of civilians including several journalists, bloggers, writers, lawyers, and other activists in the course of protests that are currently taking place across Tunisia. PEN is concerned about the arrest of at least 12 journalists and bloggers for covering the protests and in particular about the disappearances of Nizar Ben Hassan, a blogger and journalist for Radio Kalima, and Hamma Hammami, the editor of the banned newspaper Albadil, who were both abducted by the Special Unit of the Presidential Security. Their whereabouts are still unknown and they are considered to be at risk of torture and ill-treatment. PEN is seriously concerned about their safety. It considers the journalists’ detention to be in violation of Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and calls on the Tunisian authorities to release them immediately and unconditionally. In the meantime, it urges the authorities to disclose the whereabouts of the abducted journalists, and seeks assurances that they will not be ill treated while in detention.

Background Information

According to PEN’s information, protests against unemployment and corruption were sparked in mid-December 2010 and have since spread across the country and reached the capital after an unemployed university graduate, Mohamed Bouazizi, set himself on fire after police dismantled his fruit stall.

Over the past month, mass arrests have taken place throughout the country and security officers have responded with excessive force, using tear gas and live bullets to disperse demonstrators. Dozens of civilians were killed and many more  wounded. With the Internet and media already severely curtailed in recent years, the Tunisian authorities have imposed even greater  restrictions on freedoms of expression and assembly in reaction to recent events.

Several newspapers and magazines have been confiscated and suspended including the opposition weekly Al-Mawkif, Al-Tariq al-Jadid and the news broadcaster Al-Jazeera.

Among those arrested are journalists, bloggers, reporters and a popular rap singer. These include blogger Azyz Amamy; Soufiane Chourabi, a reporter working for the opposition weekly Al-Tariq al-Jadid; Hamadi Kaloutcha; Slim Amamou; Ammar Amroussia, who covered the recent events in Sidi Bouzid for the banned newspaper Al-Badil; Mouldi Zouabi, journalist for the online magazine Kalima; Nibras Mahzeeli; Mue’z al-Bai; Mue’z Jama’; and rapper El Général (real name Hamada Ben Aoun), for  the lyrics in his song "Tunis ya Bladne" ("Tunis our Homeland").

Write A Letter

(preferably in French or Arabic)

  • Condemning the arrest and detention of journalists and bloggers which the WiPC believes is a clear violation of their right to freedom of expression;
  • Calling on the Tunisian authorities to release journalists and bloggers, lawyers, activists, and civilians immediately and unconditionally and to investigate the allegations of torture;
  • Urging the Tunisian authorities to disclose the whereabouts of Nizar Ben Hassan and Hamma Hammami  and guarantee them immediate access to family and lawyers; 
  • Calling for an end to the use of the Tunisian judiciary to stifle free expression and punish critical journalists.

Send Your Letter To

Zine El Abidine Ben Ali
Palais Présidentiel
Tunis, Tunisia
Fax: +216 71 744 721

Minister of Justice and Human Rights
Lazhar Bououni
Ministry of Justice and Human Rights
31 Boulevard Bab Benat
1006 Tunis - La Kasbah
Fax: +216 71 568 106
Email: [email protected]
Salutation: Your Excellency 

Minister of Interior
Ahmed Friaa
Ministry of Interior and Local Development
Avenue Habib Bourguiba
1000 Tunis, Tunisia
Fax: +216 71 340 888
Salutation: Your Excellency

Please copy appeals to the diplomatic representative for Tunisia in your country if possible.

Please contact PEN if sending appeals after 1/30/11: ftw[at]