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Facing years in prison for speaking out
Speaking out for what she believes is right runs in activist Chaima Issa’s blood. The daughter of a former political prisoner, Chaima speaks truth to power. Even if the cost is her freedom.
When Tunisian president Kais Saied suspended parliament, dismissed the prime minister and took executive control of the country in July 2021 citing emergency powers, Chaima was one of the first to publicly oppose him. Since his power grab, human rights in Tunisia are more fragile than ever. Freedom of expression is under attack. Military courts target critics of the government, and the legal system lacks independence.
After meeting foreign diplomats along with other Tunisian opposition figures to discuss the political situation in Tunisia, Chaima was arrested on 22 February 2023 as part of an investigation for alleged “conspiracy”. She was released on 13 July after more than four months of arbitrary detention, but the legal case is ongoing and the authorities have banned her from travelling abroad and “appearing in public spaces”. A military court, which lacks independence, is also investigating Chaima for criticizing the authorities on a radio show. She faces decades in prison.
But Chaima will not give up. In the judge’s office Chaima exclaimed: “Is this Tunisia? Is this the Tunisia where we studied, you and me? Is this the Tunisia we dreamed of?” As she was taken to prison, surrounded by police officers, Chaima smiled, raised her fist and sang the national anthem.
Demand Chaima Issa’s full freedom.
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