Labor activist and dissident Adnan Hajji was born on October 25th, 1958 in the town of Redeyef in the southern district of Gafsa. He attended elementary and middle school in his home town. He then moved to Touzeur, where he attended high school. Hajji majored in French literature in college. He attended both 9 Avril and Manouba universities in the capital, Tunis. In 1979, while he was in college, he was arrested by the ministry of interior for 20 days for taking part in a student-led protest. He was then drafted into the army and served for a year between Makther in Siliana, and Rjim Maatoug in southern city of Kebili. He resumed his education after his year in the army. Between 1981 and 1982, Hajji taught Arabic and French in an elementary school in Om Laarayes, part of the Gafsa district. He was suspended within a year due to his participation in a strike. However, Hajji’s suspension ended two months later following pressure from his colleagues and from the Tunisian General Labor Union (UGTT). Hajji returned to Redeyef, where he still resides to this day. During his time in the city, Hajji organized many protests and strikes. The demands have been both local (employment and teachers’ rights) and national (freedom of speech). On November 14th, 1987, a week after the ousted president Ben Ali’s bloodless coup, Hajji helped organize a march against the new president, making him one of the first to oppose a leader who was once celebrated before being rejected by greater and greater parts of the population. Hajji continued with his political activism until he became the secretary general of the teachers’ union. In 2001, Hajji became a member in the UGTT’s regional office of Redeyef. Hajji played a key role in organizing the 2008 Redeyef protests and hunger strike against the Ben Ali regime. The protests lasted six months and resulted in Hajji’s arrest. He was released four days later due to the union’s pressure on the government. Hajji was arrested a second time on June 21st, 2008 in Kasserine. He was transferred to Gafsa where he was sentenced to 10 years and one month in prison. He later appealed and was sentenced to eight years and one month. Hajji served one year and five months between Kasserine and Mornaguia prisons. He was released on November 4th, 2009. Hajji continues to serve as secretary general in the teachers’ union and is still active in politics. He is also continues to be an active member of the regional UGTT office in Redeyef.
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