Freedom for Ghassen Ben Khelifa, unjustly detained Tunisian journalist and social justice organizer

Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network calls for the immediate release of Ghassen Ben Khelifa, Tunisian social justice organizer, journalist and committed campaigner for Palestine and against normalization.

He has been detained since 6 September 2022 by Tunisian “anti-terror” authorities. Ghassen Ben Khelifa is the editor of Inhiyez, an online publication, and directs the Media Workshop for Economic and Social Rights Association. He has long been known for his strong commitment to Palestinian liberation, including organizing with the Tunisian Committee for Boycott and Anti-Normalization and the Tunisian Committee for the Release of Georges Ibrahim Abdallah, the Lebanese struggler for Palestine jailed in France for 38 years.

A committed anti-imperialist with a strong commitment to Tunisian and Arab liberation and self-determination, Ben Khelifa is well known to international, Arab and Palestinian organizers for justice. His arrest comes as a shock, and we join organizations from the Tunisian Union of Journalists to the Union of Democratic Women in urging his immediate liberation from this unjust detetnion.

On the morning of 6 September, around 12 members of the special security forces in Tunisia, wearing civilian clothes, raided the homes of Ben Khelifa and of his parents, confiscating his mobile phone and two computers. He was transferred to an unknown destination and could not be reached by his lawyers, before he was eventually transferred to the Anti-Terrorism Judicial Office. He is now being held under a five-day detention order, subject to renewal. No reason was given for his arrest and charges have not been laid against him. Despite his right under Tunisian law to be accompanied by lawyers during interrogation, he was denied these rights.

His lawyers noted that there is no evidence or information to place him under any legitimate suspicion, while the Tunisian Union of Journalists noted that this arrest comes amid the context of ongoing campaigns of intimidation and harassment against journalists and activists and the use of “anti-terror” laws to intimidate social movement organizers of small farmers, unemployed workers and impoverished people. On Friday, 9 September, the National Committee for the Release of Ghassan Ben Khalifa will march at 5 pm in Tunis from the National Union of Journalists to Habib Bourguiba street, demanding his release and the dropping of any and all charges against him.

Ghassen Ben Khelifa is active in many social justice movements including the North African Network for Food Sovereignty, the Tunisian Joint Action Coordination for Palestine, the School of Popular Education in North Africa and the support campaigns for the movements of small farmers and the unemployed. He is completely committed to the working class, small farmers and popular classes of Tunisia and the entire Arab region. This is in addition to his journalistic work and his organizing with the Tunisian Campaign for Boycott and Anti-Normalization and the Campaign for the Liberation of Georges Abdallah.

Over the years, Ghassan Ben Khelifa has been a committed struggler against normalization and the influence of imperialist powers in Tunisia. He continues to organize for the liberation of all Palestinian prisoners and imprisoned strugglers for Palestine, like Georges Abdallah, and for the liberation of Palestine, from the river to the sea, as one struggle together with that of the Tunisian workers and farmers. Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network expresses great concern about the use of “anti-terror” special forces and legislation to prosecute the defenders of the people and those who resist imperialism and normalization, rather than exposing the forces of terror and destruction in Tunisia and throughout the region, who are directly aligned with imperialist interests and push for normalization with Zionism.

We join the National Committee for the Release of Ghassen Ben Khelifa in urging the Tunisian authorities to immediately release him and drop any and all charges against him. Freedom for Ghassen Ben Khelifa!