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Imprisoned human rights defender Mohamed Abbou on hunger strike

(OLPEC/IFEX) - The following is an abridged translation of a statement by the CNLT, of which OLPEC is a member:

Imprisoned lawyer and human rights defender Mohamed Abbou on hunger strike

Incarcerated since 1 March 2006 for publishing an article on the Internet , lawyer and human rights defender Mohamed Abbou has been on hunger strike since 11 March. He is protesting his prison conditions that have worsened since 2 March, when a gathering in front of Kef prison, where he is detained, took place that was blocked by the police and the National Guard.

In recent days, Abbou has been woken in the middle of the night by guards who beat him and target him in retaliation. The prison administration has also incited some of his fellow prison-mates to harass and further damaging rumours about Abbou and his family, reported his sister, who visited him on 9 March.

Prison guards also stopped his weekly visit after only three minutes, despite the insistence of his mother, whom he had not seen in three months. His wife Samia Abbou, had decided since 2 March not to meet her husband behind bars and to instead stage a sit-in in front of the prison each Thursday visiting day, as a sign of protest against the injustice faced by her husband.

A substantial police dispatch encircled Samia Abbou during her last sit-in. Numerous State Security and National Guard vehicles "escorted" her and barrister Idoudi, the entire way out of Tunis to Kef (170 km), stopping the vehicle 10 times, during which the driver had documents removed from his car and a ticket drawn up against him.

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