Tunisian, Egyptian nominated for Sakharov Prize

Dakar- Senegal (PANA) -- About 40 European MPs have endorsed the nomination of Tunisia's Sihem Bensedrine and Prof.
Saad Eddin Ibrahim of Egypt for the 2002 Sakharov Prize awarded by the European Parliament.
Initiated in 1988 by the European Parliament the Sakharov Prize, named after the famous Russian dissident Andrei Sakharov, is awarded every year to an international figure for outstanding contribution in the area of human rights.
The prize, which marks the European Parliament's position in favour of peaceful and political dialogue for conflict settlement, was awarded for the first time in 1988 to Nelson Mandela, champion of Black South Africa's resistance to apartheid.
Among those who nominated the two Africans are former EU human rights commissioner Emma Bonino and Harlem Desir, former chairman of French anti-racist association SOS Racisme.
They said they nominated Bensedrine and Ibrahim "in support of their defence of all advocates of freedom and democracy in Tunisia, Egypt, the Arab world and all countries under dictatorship.
" The European MPs said their gesture was aimed at supporting the fight of all Europeans who refuse to let the European Union merely pay lip service to the rule of law and democracy across the world.
Sihem Bensedrine, a journalist and editor, former vice-president of the Tunisian Human Rights League (LTDH), is spokesperson for the National Committee for Freedoms in Tunisia (CNLT), which is not recognised by Tunisian authorities.
She heads the Aloese publishing house, as well as the online Kalima magazine (censored in Tunisia).
She is also secretary-general of the Observatory for the Defence of Press Freedom, Publishing and Creativity (OLPEC), an affiliate of the international network of Reporters Sans Frontieres (RSF) - Reporters without Borders.
A tireless advocate of human rights and liberties, Bensedrine has been harassed for several years by Tunisian police.
During programmes on the Al Mustakillah television channel in the Spring of 2001, she discussed torture and corruption in Tunisia, and was consequently arrested upon her return to Tunisia on libel charges.
After 47 days of detention, she was released on parole.
As soon as she left prison, and despite the threat of a jail sentence, she resumed her fight for democracy and rule of law, stressing the iniquitous nature of the Tunisian judiciary and penitentiary.
As for Prof.
Saad Eddin Ibrahim, one of the major advocates of democratic reforms in Egypt and a renowned professor of sociology, he founded in 1988 the Ibn Khaldun for Development Studies (ICDS), a research and social action institute based in Cairo.
According to the Middle East Times, the Ibn Khaldun Centre has been "a thorn in the flesh for the Egyptian regime.
" While the Islamic threat was receding in the mid-1990s, Ibrahim's organisation shifted the focus from fundamentalist violence to the Egyptian government's lack of will for reform.
As secretary-general of the Egyptian Independent Election Control Commission, Prof.
Ibrahim supervised various polls, documenting cases of violation and electoral fraud by the government in the 1995 parliamentary elections.
In the summer of 2000, he was arrested along with 27 of his colleagues and tried by the Court of State Security on various counts, including "conspiracy to corrupt civil servants and deliberate dissemination of false information abroad to harm Egypt's interests.
" They were also accused of "defrauding" the European Union, an accusation categorically denied by the EU.
All defendants in that case were found guilty.
But the sentence was quashed on 6 February 2002 by the Court of Cassation and a new trial took place but fraught with irregularities.
At the end of the trial Prof.
Ibrahim, 63, was sentenced to seven years imprisonment with hard labour.

10 septembre 2002 17:57:00




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