The Tunisian National Dialogue Quartet’s newly awarded Nobel Peace Prize is a fitting tribute to its members’ work in strengthening civil society and human rights in a society still struggling with the legacy of decades of repression and abuse, Amnesty International said today.
The organization has worked with and spoken out to defend the rights of three of the four Quartet’s members, which have for decades been at the forefront of the fight to defend the human rights of Tunisians.
“This is an important recognition of the key role that civil society can play in a country emerging from years of dictatorship and human rights violations,” said Salil Shetty, Amnesty International’s Secretary General.
“These organizations were continually threatened by the government before the 2011 uprising, and showed great courage in a climate of repression. In the difficult years since then, they held firm in speaking out for human rights and the rule of law.”
“As the shadow of attacks by armed groups looms over Tunisia, this recognition from the Nobel Committee is a signal of hope for a country facing huge challenges for the future.”
One member of the Quartet, the Tunisian General Labor Union (UGTT, Union Générale Tunisienne du Travail), has bravely fought for better working conditions, including for women, at a time of severe unemployment in Tunisia, a major trigger for the mass uprisings in 2011.
Another, the Tunisian Human Rights League (LTDH, La Ligue Tunisienne pour la Défense des Droits de l’Homme) is one of the oldest human rights groups in Africa and the Arab world, and was continually harassed under President Ben Ali.
The third, the Tunisian Order of Lawyers (Ordre National des Avocats de Tunisie), continued to work despite facing repression and attempts to silence it.
In January 2014 Tunisia adopted a new constitution containing important human rights guarantees, although the authorities still continue to arbitrarily restrict freedom of expression and association.
Amnesty International was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1977.