Tunisia: Health of jailed Ennahda figure on hunger strike deteriorating fast, his wife says

Tunisia: Health of jailed Ennahda figure on hunger strike deteriorating fast, his wife says
2 min read
06 June, 2023
The health of a jailed leader of Tunisia's biggest opposition party who has been on hunger strike for almost a month is quickly deteriorating, his wife has said.
Tunisian authorities have intensified their crackdown on the opposition [Getty]

The health condition of an Ennahda Movement party leader who has been on hunger strike for almost a month in a Tunisian jail is sharply deteriorating, his wife has said.

Sahbi Atig has been on hunger strike for 25 days to protest his arrest and detention on charges of money laundering and false testimony. He, his family and Ennahda say he has been imprisoned for purely political reasons, as Tunisian President Kais Saied enacts a crackdown on political opponents.

Atig wife, Zainab Al-Marayhi, told The New Arab’s Arabic-language sister site Al-Araby Al-Jadeed that she and a lawyer visited him on Monday. Prison authorities had to cut the visit short as he was struggling to stand up, spoke with difficulty, and even fainted, Al-Marayhi said.

"My husband has lost about 20kg and suffers from stomach and heart pains. He is kept in a room with several prisoners who smoke cigarettes, and this worsens his health condition, and he needs a wheelchair," Al-Marayhi told Al-Araby Al-Jadeed.

Al-Marayhi said that the prison doctor warned her husband of the serious implications the strike will have on his health, especially as he suffers from heart disease and he has fainted several times in recent days.

But she added that her husband "is determined to proceed with his strike" to end his unjust imprisonment.

A medical source told Al Jazeera late Monday that has been transferred to intensive care at a hospital.

Ennahda said on Tuesday that it was following the deterioration of Atig's health with "great concern".

In recent months, Tunisia has seen intensifying crackdown on dissidents and critics of President Saied, who in July 2021 was behind a power grab many of his critics call a coup.

Ennahda officials have especially been targeted in the crackdown, with many of its leaders – including current head Rached Ghannouchi – arrested and handed prison sentences.

Amnesty International said last month that Tunisian authorities were using vaguely worded laws as a pretext for repression, targeting dissidents and opposition figures.