Open letter from a group of feminist NGOs to the president Kais Saied

Tunis, 30th July 2021

Dear Mr. President,


Following the exceptional measures announced by the Presidency of the Republic on July 25th, which came in response to the lack of political stability, the deterioration of economic, social and health conditions, the deep sense of injustice and inequality felt by the people, as well as  the rampant corruption and growing nepotism, and the pervasiveness of  the culture of impunity, the undersigned are following with deep concern this shift in the political path and the severe crisis that our country is witnessing on all levels.

 The crisis has been accompanied by the absence of an effective response to the global pandemic and the delay in the vaccine rollout. In the last few years, we have witnessed an exacerbation of violence against women and feminicides. Women’s dignity has been compromised and violated even in the Parliament while authorities like the Parliament’s Bureau remained criminally silent.

Accordingly, it is important for the undersigning NGOs to :

·       Express their support for the legitimate popular protests that erupted in response to the above-mentioned conditions. We stress that not listening to the people’s concerns can lead to the fall of any political leadership

·       Consider that the political class is responsible for the numerous failures, especially those who received the majority of votes and were entrusted with this people’s lives, safety, and dignity. These failures made us face a stifling crisis in the absence of all guarantees that should have been provided by the Constitutional Court, which should have been established more than seven years ago. 

·       Urge the President, Mr. Kais Said, to provide us with a road map that will allow us to follow the developments of the situation in a transparent and participatory manner and to respect the gains of the revolution, as well as the values of the Republic. We urge the President to set a time limit for each measure and adhere to it. We also ask him to beware of dangerous slips, especially that all branches of power are under his authority.

·       Following the decision to lift the immunity of the Members of Parliament, we ask the President to accelerate the prosecution of proven to be or suspected of involvement in corruption. Moreover, we ask the President to treat the files of political assassinations with the utmost seriousness in order to achieve justice and put an end to the culture of impunity. We would also like to remind the President of the case of the MP, Zouhair Makhlouf, accused of sexual harassment and whose trial is pending since 2019. Furthermore, we would like to stress that judicial accountability should include all crimes without discrimination and be based on the principles of fair trial and equality.

● Call for the President to refer to the 2020 Court of Auditors’ report and the information it included about the assigned funds within the framework of international cooperation programs between the government and international and regional organizations.  We also call for a thorough review of the outcome of these funds as well as the agreements recently concluded by the Tunisian state.

● Honor and ensure the application of the principle of parity and women’s representation in the new government, which was lacking in the previous governments.

● Call on the President to prioritize combating violence against women by monitoring the financial, human and logistical means necessary to develop and implement an effective strategy to eradicate this problem.

● Guarantee the economic and social rights of all women and in particular women in the agricultural labor force.   Reform the current policies related to this sector, especially given its positive outcome even during the pandemic. We also call for an end to the shortage in potable water supplies, and reaffirm that access to water is a constitutional right. The continued violation of this right has led to many protests and social unrest

● Call for the involvement of youth associations and organizations in this crucial stage, given the role they played in monitoring the democratic transition in the previous period.

● Express our readiness to rally, with all components of civil society, around the gains of the revolution, in order to play an effective monitoring role during this sensitive period that Tunisia is going through. The undersigned emphasize the importance of the rights of women and the constant struggle to eliminate all forms of violence and discrimination against them. We also express our unconditional support to minority rights as mentioned in the 2014 Constitution.

●Finally, we call on the government to ramp up its vaccine roll out, which is the only shield against the COVID-19 pandemic.  We ask everyone to stay vigilant and to avoid violence and division and rely on the solidarity of all citizens, feminists included during this sensitive period.

Long live the feminist resistance

Long live Tunisia

The undersigning associations:

Aswat Nissa

Association Femme et citoyenneté El Kef

Joussour de citoyenneté El kef

Voix d’Eve à Sidi Bouzid

Association Selima Sidi Bousid and Kebili

Association Rayhane pour les femmes de Jendouba