Thursday, July 25, 2013

Opposition Leader Assassinated in Tunisia

Strongly condemning the assassination earlier this morning of a Tunisian opposition leader, the United Nations human rights chief called on the authorities to investigate the murder, and urged Tunisian citizens to stand united against attempts to derail the country’s democratic transition.

“I am shocked and deeply saddened by the news of [Mohamed] Brahmi’s assassination. I call upon the authorities to immediately launch a prompt and transparent investigation to ensure that the people who carried out this crime are held accountable,” said the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay.

Mr. Brahmi, a member of the National Constituent Assembly, was shot dead in front of his daughter outside of his house in a Tunis suburb.

“The assassination of Mr. Brahmi, which coincides with the 56th anniversary of the Declaration of the Tunisian Republic, risks upsetting the vital constitution-making process that is in its final stages,” Ms. Pillay said. “I urge all actors in Tunisia – Government, opposition, the general public and civil society – to stand firm and united in the face of political violence, and defend everyone’s freedom to hold and express diverse political views.”

This is the third killing of this kind in the past ten months. In October, Lofti Nagdh was killed and in February, Chokri Belaid, another opposition member was assassinated in similar circumstances to Mr. Brahmi’s murder.

“The Tunisian authorities must take very serious measures to investigate these assassinations, identify the culprits and bring them to justice,” Ms. Pillay said. “It is also crucial that they offer better protection to people who, like Mr. Brahmi, are clearly at risk.”

Tunisia has been undergoing a democratic transition since massive public demonstrations overthrew long-standing leader Zine El Abidine Ben Ali in January 2011. The actions of Tunisian citizens sparked the wave of popular uprisings across North Africa and the Middle East that became known as the Arab Spring, which also led to the toppling of regimes in Egypt, Libya and Yemen.

“The Government must take strong measures to show it will enforce the rule of law, and do its utmost to deter these terrible acts which appear to be designed to inflame the situation and undermine the democratic transition in Tunisia,” Ms. Pillay added.

(UN press release)

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