More than 100 inmates went on hunger strike yesterday in Mornaguia prison, situated in the western suburb of Tunis, to assert their innocence. These prisoners do not include any of the Salafist detainees, who are being held in connection to unrest in June over a controversial art exhibition at Abdellia Palace, the September 14 attack on the U.S. Embassy, and last month’s clashes with police in the southern Douar Hicher neighborhood of Tunis.
“Hunger strikes in Tunisian prisons have become like a spreading infection,” said Adel Riahi, a press attaché of Justice Ministry. He added that hunger strikes are the “wrong methods” to pressure authorities to answer prisoners’ demands or release them. He stated that demands of Salafist detainees are acceptable and legitimate whereas those of the prisoners who went on hunger strike yesterday are not. Riahi believes that the latter are merely taking advantage of the situation and are not innocent as they claim to be.
Mondher Cherni, secretary general of the Fight Against Torture Association, argued that all prisoners, including Salafist detainees, should stop resorting to brutal hunger strike because of the physical damage it causes.
Hunger strikes in Tunisian prisons have caught the attention of Tunisians recently. Salafist detainees have gone on hunger strike to accelerate their referral to the courts. Two of them died last week after undergoing a brutal hunger strike that lasted for two months, obliging authorities to release 15 detainees whose health had deteriorated.