Group of Tunisian NGOs call for respect of migrants’ dignity

A group of Tunisian and regional NGOs issued a press release revisiting Tunisian President Kais Saied’s anti-migrant speech from the previous year and condemning its content. Saied’s remarks about a “criminal plan … devised at the beginning of this century to modify Tunisia’s demography” drew sharp criticism from the NGOs.

A group of Tunisian and regional NGOs published a press release to remind everyone of last year’s speech of Tunisian President, Kais Saied, and to stigmatize it due to its content.

During a meeting of the National Security Council on the topic of ‘The implementation of urgent measures to face the issue of the high number of illegal migration flows from the Sub-Saharan region in Tunisia’, Saied said that “a criminal plan was devised at the beginning of this century to modify Tunisia’s demography.”

‘Tunisian authorities joined Europe’s far-right policies’

“Today the high political and moral cost of this speech is evident,” wrote the NGOs in a joint declaration.

“Tunisian authorities have become the symbol for discriminatory attitudes toward migrants and have thereby joined Europe’s far-right policies, which are spreading fear of migrants, and have utilized the policies of Tunisian authorities as a pretext to further violate the human rights of Tunisian migrants in Europe, and have worked to limit their presence and have them expelled,” the NGOs added.

The NGOs highlighted the Tunisian state’s use of outdated discriminatory laws to restrict migrants from accessing essential services, lodging, and marriage opportunities.

They also criticized the state’s role in exacerbating the vulnerability of marginalized groups, making them susceptible to human trafficking and exploitation, particularly evident in regions like the olive forests of Sfax and the border deserts with Libya and Algeria.

‘Racism not a point of view but a criminal act’

“Campaigns inciting racism against migrants also continue. These campaigns stereotype them and present them as a threat to security, health and existence itself, as a way to justify their expulsion and blocking the provisions of basic services to them,” the group noted.

Emphasizing that racism against black migrants constitutes a criminal act rather than a mere expression of opinion, the NGOs condemned ongoing campaigns vilifying migrants and portraying them as threats to security and public health.

They invoked relevant anti-racism laws and reiterated their commitment to defending the rights of all migrants, “regardless of whether they are Tunisians in Europe or migrants in Tunisia.”

“In conclusion, we reaffirm with all our strength our commitment together with all forces opposing these practices in Tunisia and Africa, and our aim to work according to a strategy that opposes the EU’s migration policies”.

The NGOs also noted that “[they support] a strategy that is in particular against the policies of the right and of racists for the complete freedom of Africa, whose people continue to fight for a true independence and dignity, as well as ideas based on race, ethnicity, color, sex, language, religion or political opinions.”

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