Tunisia: The arrest of students protesting the restoration of a classroom in a school is an unjustified violation of the right to peaceful assembly
Stockholm - Skyline International condemns the arrest by security authorities of a group of students from Al-Amal Institute in Fouchana, Ben Arous State, after they organized a protest rally inside the institute to demand the restoration of one of the "crumbling" classrooms. Skyline stresses that the arrest is a dangerous violation of the right to peaceful assembly and freedom of expression.
In a statement released today (Thursday), Skyline points out that instead of responding to the students and renovating the "dilapidated" classroom that threatens the lives of the students there, the administration of the institute asked the students to protest outside the institute. Once outside the institute, the students organized a protest and some of them set rubber tires on fire after the director of the institute refused to talk to them.
According to some students and parents who visited the institute, they were surprised that security forces stormed the institute after a complaint from the administration, stopped a number of students and took them to the police station for "interrogation" and sent summonses to some other students.
The human rights foundation Skyline points out that it was confirmed that the security authorities detained five students before transferring them to the civil prison (Maznakiya) on charges of "sedition"; they are "Mohammed Al-Subai, Iskandar bin Ali, Omar Al-Nafati, Omar Al-Safi, and Iram Jarrahi."
A media official in the Ben Arous Education Department said, "The vigils organized by the students turned into riots, and that the situation had become a danger to the students in the institute, which necessitated the help of the police." At a time when the families of the arrested students confirmed in media statements that "their sons are innocent of the charges brought against them."
The incident of arresting the students sparked a wave of anger and has been denounced by local human rights denunciation. In this regard, the hashtag #StudentDropout disseminated on social media in Tunisia, where thousands of people reject the security behavior in handling the basic demands affecting the lives of students, calling for their immediate release.
For its part, "Skyline" stresses that the handling by the security authorities of the students' basic and legitimate demands, especially as these demands are in the interest of protecting the students from the danger of the walls of the classrooms falling down on them. It also reflects the security mentality of the Tunisian executive authorities, and expresses its rejection of the behavior of the institute's management, which has deployed the security services instead of listening to the students' complaints and legitimate demands.
In addition, Skyline stresses that the students' peaceful protest is guaranteed by both the Tunisian Constitution and international law, particularly Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which affirm the right to peaceful assembly and freedom of expression.
Skyline concludes its statement by calling on the security authorities for the immediate and unconditional release of the five students and to ensure that they continue their studies and enter the high school exams. It stresses the importance of the institute's response to the students' demands and improving the conditions of the classrooms, "which are on the verge of collapse" instead of prosecuting them and using the security services to intimidate them.