Tunisian lawyers launch one-day strike over police repression | Protests News

Hundreds of people have taken to the streets of the Tunisian capital after a lawyer was allegedly tortured by police.

Lawyers in the north African nation of Tunisia have launched a one-day strike following the recent arrest of two of their colleagues, as opposition to repressive measures by President Kais Saied intensifies.

Hundreds of people took to the streets of the capital city of Tunis on Thursday, voicing anger over the arrest of the two lawyers, one of whom was allegedly tortured during detention. Two journalists were also recently arrested.

“No fear, no terror. Power belongs to the people,” protesters chanted near the Palace of Justice.

The government has denied any wrongdoing or abuses, but has faced persistent criticism for moves to consolidate power and crack down on dissent. Demonstrations also took place last week, calling on President Saied – whom critics have claimed has become increasingly authoritarian since taking power in 2019 – to set a date for elections after controversially shuttering parliament and expanding executive powers.

Tunisian police raided the bar association’s headquarters on Monday to arrest Mahdi Zagrouba, a lawyer who has been critical of the president. Another lawyer, Sonia Dahmani, had been detained over the weekend.

The association said that Zagrouba was tortured and that his body showed signs of abuse, including bruises. Both Zagrouba and Dahmani were charged under a controversial cybercrime law targeting “fake news”.

“We categorically deny that the lawyer was subjected to torture or ill-treatment. It is a scenario to escape responsibility after it was proven that he assaulted a policeman during a protest this week,” Tunisian Ministry of Interior official Fakher Bouzghaia said.

“We demand an apology from the authorities for the enormous blunders committed,” bar association President Hatem Mziou said, referring to the arrests.

“We are fighting for a democratic climate and respect for freedoms,” he added.

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