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HRinfo calls on government to release journalist under house arrest for five years

(HRinfo/IFEX) - The following is a 4 June 2007 HRinfo statement:

The Tunisian government must respect the rule of law

Cairo, June 4, 2007

The Tunisian government must respect the rule of law and terminate the house arrest imposed on the journalist and prisoner of opinion Abdallah Al-Zawary for five years, said the Arabic Network for Human Rights Information (HRinfo). Al-Zawary has been under house arrest since June 2002.

After spending 11 years in prison, Al-Zawary had been released in June 2002. Immediately upon his release the journalist was put under house arrest for five years. The Interior Ministry decided to send him to Al-Gerba district of Gergeis City, which lies 500 km away from the Tunisian capital and away from his family and children. The house arrest was a form of exile and punishment for Al-Zawary and his family.

During his exile for 5 years in Gergeis City, which is located in the far south of Tunisia, Al- Zawary, a Tunisian journalist and a former deputy editor-in-chef for "Al-Fajr" newspaper, has been subjected to harassment and fabricated legal restrictions such as limiting his movement to within 30 km. He was also prevented from using internet cafes and suffered other forms of harassment that he has patiently endured.

As a result, HRinfo calls upon both Arab and international civil society to help Al-Zawary to regain his freedom and return to his family in the Tunisian capital, after spending more than 16 years between jail and unjust house arrest.

About Abdallah Al-Zawary:

Abdallah Al-Zawary is a Tunisian journalist known among many of defenders of prisoners of opinion as the "Nelson Mandela of the Arab world." He was in prison for 16 years and under house arrest for 5 years. He did not carry out any kind of violence. The Tunisian government refuses to acknowledge that he is a journalist and a political prisoner, solely due to his membership in the Islamic movement.

In 1981, he was arrested for the first time after he submitted a request to establish a political party and later released in 1984. He was arrested again in 1987 in a campaign launched against the Islamic movement, and then he was released again in 1989. In 1991, he was arrested for his membership in the Islamic Renaissance Movement in Tunisia. He was in prison for 11 years and released in 2002, when he was put under house arrest for 5 years, which is set to end at the beginning of June 2007.

The two websites Al-Huwar Net and Tunisia News decided to launch signature campaigns calling upon the Tunisian government to put into effect the court order for his release, which obliges the judiciary to end the house arrest, allowing Al-Zawary to go back to his family immediately.

To participate in the signature campaign, please send your full name and country to the following email addresses: [email protected] or [email protected]


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