(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.