Amina Sboui, the Tunisian member of the Ukrainian feminist group Femen, appears in a courtroom in Sousse. © REUTERS/Med Amine Benaziza
"I am not afraid. That I’d be kept in jail for a long time, it does not matter to me […] I am behind bars but I feel freer than many people on the outside” Amina Sboui.
Amina Sboui is an 18-year-old Femen activist from Tunisia. She is being detained for exercising her right to freedom of expression.
A Salafist group opposing equality for women had planned to hold a rally in Kairouan on 19 May. As an act of protest Amina wrote the word “Femen”, the name of an international feminist network known for staging topless protests, on a wall surrounding Kairouan’s cemetery. Police then arrested Amina and took her into custody.
Amina was charged and then sentenced to a fine of 300 Dinar (US$184) for “possessing a self-defence spray”, after which she should have been released. Instead, she was kept in detention on accusations brought against her that same day of “desecrating a cemetery”, “belonging to a criminal organization” and “undermining public morals”. Two of those accusations were dropped but Amina could still face prison if she is convicted of the remaining accusation of “desecrating a cemetery”.
On 10 July, Amina’s lawyers learnt that she is now also facing new charges of “insulting a civil servant in the exercise of his duties” and “defamation”, following a complaint by the director of the Sousse prison where she is held. Her trial on these latest charges began on 22 July and was postponed to 29 July.
Amnesty International believes that the accusations and charges Amina faces are politically motivated and that she is being targeted for exercising her right to freedom of expression.
We need to urge the Minister of Justice to release Amina Sboui as she is being detained for exercising her right to freedom of expression, and to repeal laws that undermine the right to freedom of expression.