Activists in Tunisia thrashed by police

Sunday, May 28, 2006 Activists from Tunisia's only independent human-rights body have been assaulted by the police in that country, according to reports. Witnesses say the roads leading to the Tunisia Human Rights League were blocked by plainclothes policemen who insulted and kicked activists who attempted to breach the cordon. U.S diplomats and French lawyers, who had been invited to the meeting, were also present at the scene. No arrests have so far been reported in this incident, which according to human-rights activists, is the latest in a chain of government atrocities that include beating lawyers, jailing opponents and stifling the press.

Mokhtar Trifi, the president of the group, said: "It is shameful that those invited to support human rights in Tunisia cannot gain access to the headquarters of the human rights league." Some pro-government members of the Human Rights League, however, accuse their leadership of cronyism, physical and verbal violence against militants and of sidelining members who disagree with them.

Meanwhile, members of the Tunisian National Organisation for Lawyers have begun a hunger strike in protest against the law of the Supreme Bar Institute that was endorsed by the Tunisian parliament. The lawyers accuse the Ministry of Justice of seeking to control the lawyers' syndicate. The government says it is committed to democracy and respects human rights, adding it has no political prisoners and that it has not jailed anyone for expressing their opinions.