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Contact: Suzanne Trimel, [email protected], 212-633-4150, @AIUSAmedia

(NEW YORK) – Amnesty International called for an immediate independent and impartial

probe of today’s killing of Chokri Belaid, a leading figure of the leftist opposition in

Tunisia, who was shot in the head as he was leaving home.

“Today’s shocking killing must serve as a wake-up call to the authorities,” said

Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui, Amnesty International’s deputy director for the Middle East and

North Africa. “It is their duty to protect all individuals, including those who

criticize the government or Tunisia’s leading Ennahda party, from violence. No group,

regardless of its affiliation, can be above the law.”

Belaid was secretary general of the Democratic Patriots party and a vocal critic of

the government. He denounced political violence and called for democratic values to be

upheld in Tunisia.

It is the first time that such a killing has taken place in Tunisia. So far, no one

has claimed responsibility.

Belaid’s murder takes place in a time of increasing polarization by the political

parties in Tunisia. Members of the opposition have reported being targeted in attacks by

individuals and that the authorities are not doing enough to protect them.

In recent months, there have been a number of incidents of violence against political

activists and gatherings including one that Belaid attended last Saturday. He had

reportedly been receiving threats.

“The Tunisian authorities should be under no illusion that they can condemn the

killing and move on. Only a fully independent and transparent investigation can help

shed light on the circumstances of the killing of Chokri Belaid. There is a need, today

more than ever, for justice to be done and to be seen to be done,” said Hadj Sahraoui.

“Two years after the ousting of former President Ben Ali, there is an increasing

mistrust in the institutions that are supposed to protect human rights and Tunisians

will not be satisfied with a sham investigation.”

Amnesty International has raised serious concerns over the lack of independence of

the judiciary system and the need for reform within the security sector.

As news of the shooting spread, thousands marched in Tunisia to express their shock

and condemnation. Amnesty International is calling on Tunisian security forces to

refrain from unnecessary or excessive use of force, and to ensure that people can

express their views peacefully and freely.

Four opposition parties have reportedly called for a general strike on Thursday and

for a suspension of their participation in the National Constituent Assembly.

Amnesty International is a Nobel Peace Prize-winning grassroots activist

organization with more than 3 million supporters, activists and volunteers in more than

150 countries campaigning for human rights worldwide. The organization investigates and

exposes abuses, educates and mobilizes the public, and works to protect people wherever

justice, freedom, truth, and dignity are denied.