In Tunisia with the freedom
- I spent 4 days in Tunis accompanied by Rachid who was
representing the Union for the young North Africans in France.
I was happy to be greeted at the airport by Hamma Hammami.
His wife, a lawyer, had told me so much about him! It was a very
emotional moment. For the first time, I was meeting the man that
I defended in Tunis when he was in jail. I remembered his book:
"The way to dignity" where he was describing his thirty
years of struggle, his time in prison, the tortures, his clandestine
- Before being sent back to prison, Hamman said:" Nothing
can make us afraid, either the unfair trials, the prisons, the
tortures or the bad treatments" This fighter for freedom
was now facing me and he took me to his home to stay with his
I was delighted to meet Judge Mokhtar Yahyaoui, he is the uncle
of Zouhair who I defended and who is still in prison. Mokhtarr
invited me to have dinner at his home. I admired this judge who
courageously and freely dared to write in an open letter how
the government unduly influenced him and how it was impossible
for him to make a fair trial. Too much is too much, he became
a rebel. No one beforehand could have known that he could do
this distinguished action. Not being an activist for human rights
or for a political party, he created a surprise. His conscience
pushed him to speak. He was immediately punished and threatened.
To speak the truth can be very costly!
Zouhair family invited me for dinner. His relatives, parents,
brothers and sisters spoke heartily of him. They expected his
liberation, perhaps for the great Aïd feast that is coming
soon? How can one rejoice when a loved one is in prison?
The press conference was an opportunity for me to speak in
favor of Zouhair and for all political prisoners. Many activists
attended, even some coming from the south of Tunisia.
- I was impressed to speak in front of persons having been
in a great turmoil, like being in prison and having had a life
under cover. They are men who liberated themselves from fear
and have become free men.
Zouhair was neither a social activist nor an activist for a party;
he freely entered into resistance. He opened a web site to give
some freedom of expression to the people in Tunisia. Young, he
has become a symbol. An impressive solidarity has surrounded
him to avoid him to stay isolated. At least the Ben Ali regime
has the advantage to make people aware of human rights!
Zouhair is also a symbol for the families who are punished.
The political regime does not only isolate the prisoners but
also their families. It threatens them and tries to break their
- What is the future for a political regime based on fear?
When people are afraid you can demand every thing from them.
However when more and more people cannot put up with injustice
and begin to speak, the future stays opened and hope becomes