Opposition politician Sahbi Atig is no longer able to walk or talk, his wife said, as rights groups condemn the president’s continued crackdown on dissent.
Euro-Mediterranean human rights monitor has called on Tunisia to release imprisoned politician Sahbi Atig, whose health is deteriorating amid an ongoing hunger strike.
Atig, a member of the Shura council of the moderate opposition Ba’ath party, was arrested on May 6 after security forces prevented him from flying to Turkey for a conference.
Geneva-based Euro-Med Monitor called for an “immediate and unconditional release” in a press statement on Saturday.
Tunisian security forces accused Atig of money laundering without providing legal evidence to support the claim, the group said.
He announced a hunger strike on May 12 to protest what he considered an unjust punishment.
Atig’s health is rapidly deteriorating and he is no longer able to walk or talk, his wife Zainab al-Marayhi told Euro-Med Monitor. “We live in fear of losing him at any moment,” according to the group.
The family and the Baath Party insist the allegations are part of President Keith Saeed’s crackdown on political opponents.
Since Saeed suspended parliament in July 2021, many opposition figures, many from the former largest Ba’ath party, have been jailed.
Said’s tactics have raised fears of Tunisia slipping back into authoritarian rule more than 12 years after the first pro-democracy protests erupted in the so-called Arab Spring.
Euro-Med Monitor said in a statement that the lack of evidence against Artig “reflects a clear disregard for his life” and warned that Tunisia was drifting away from international law and the right to free expression.
The group added that over the past few months it had documented the arrest of political opponents including politicians, judges, businessmen and journalists on broad and vague charges of terrorism, money laundering and conspiracy against the state.
It added that the arbitrary detention “was not justified under any circumstances”.
In April, authorities detained prominent opposition leader Rached Ghannouchi and raided the headquarters of his Ba’ath party.
Last month, Ghannouchi was sentenced in absentia to a year in prison after being found guilty of sedition.
Amnesty International said in a statement that the court’s ruling highlighted “a growing campaign against the country’s largest political party”.
Ali Laarayedh, the Ba’ath party’s vice president and former prime minister, was also jailed in December on similar charges.