Tunisia: international NGOs Decry Chokri Belaid’s Assassination

The assassination of the Tunisian opposition figure Chokri Belaid sparked the outrage of human rights organizations, which expressed concern at the mounting tension and climate of violence in the country. Chokri Belaid, Secretary General of the Democratic Patriots Party and fierce opponent of the ruling Islamists, was shot dead by several bullets as he was leaving home in Tunis on February 6. The International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) said it was “in shock.” “(Tunisian) authorities must conduct an immediate and impartial investigation.” They must take the necessary moves to ensure that “these crimes do not go unpunished and that violence does not prevail,” said President of the FIDH, Souhayr Belhassen. For its part, Amnesty International noted that Chokri Belaid’s killing “has occurred in a context of increasing polarization between political parties in Tunisia.” Members of the opposition have reported they are targeted in attacks by individuals and that the authorities are not doing enough to protect them, said AI in a statement, adding that “in recent months, there have been a number of incidents of violence against political activists, premises of political parties and gatherings, including a meeting which Chokri Belaid attended as recently as last Saturday.”

In the same vein, Human Rights Watch said since Tunisia’s revolution started in Januray 2011, “there have been violent assaults against journalists, political activists, artists, and simple citizens, many of which the authorities did not investigate, let alone prosecute.” The Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Network (EMHRN) stressed on its part that “this tragedy has come about as a result of a government-sanctioned climate of intimidation and violence against the democratic movement in Tunisia.” “The repeated attacks, coming from government officials as well as from some En-Nahdah leaders, singling out Chokri Belaïd as the leading light of the protests, gave way to his murderers,” the network said.


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