Free Héla-Protect Human Rights

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FREE OUR FRIEND HÉLA BOUJNEH--HUMAN RIGHTS DEFENDER!!



SIGN AND DONATE--DO A GOOD DEED TODAY THAT WILL MAKE A DIFFERENCE!! 



URGENT: Help us raise funds to keep Héla out of prison for DEFENDING HUMAN RIGHTS! --Trial Date: SEPTEMBER 15, 2014

DONATE here and then SIGN THE PETITION-
freehela.wesign.it/en (English) or freehela.wesign.it/fr (French), freehela.it/ar (Arabic).

HÉLA BOUJNEH, young Tunisian female human rights activist, doctoral candidate of law, and our friend and colleague, was arrested by the police in Sousse, Tunisia while acting as a human rights defender for her brother who had been brought into the station for a minor traffic violation. Héla was imprisoned for 24 hours during which time she was physically, sexually, and morally abused and threatened by eight police officers. She was held without any motive and was denied her right to speak to an attorney. Now she is being charged with aggravated assault against the police officers and a public official, disturbance of the public order, and other infractions because she is a HUMAN RIGHTS DEFENDER!

Her trial is on SEPTEMBER 15 when she faces up two to five years in prison. While at the station, she was threatened by police officers who said to her "Do you know what we do to women human rights activists?!"

Héla Boujneh has spent her life fighting for peace and human rights, and most notably was one of leaders in the Tunisian Revolution (December 2010-January 2011) that set off major waves of political change throughout North Africa and the Middle East. She was named the Person of the Future 2013 by the Tunisian Institute and Ambassador of France for her outstanding commitment to youth and human rights issues. Allowing the police to silence her will send a powerful negative message to others who dare to speak up. Widespread police brutality is a threat to Tunisia’s current transition to democracy and the integrity of its new constitution, but it is not limited to Africa. We are seeing this happen all over Europe, the US, and other parts of the world. 

DONATE AND SIGN the petition--SUPPORT ALL  WOMEN AND YOUTH! 

All of your donations will be directly forwarded to Active Generation, a Paris-based NGO and international network of activists dedicated to protecting human rights and its defenders! These donations will be used to pay for Héla's legal fees and campaign expenses.

For more information: http://www.activegeneration.org/what-is-active-generation/ ******************************************************************************* WHY YOU SHOULD CARE--This is case is much bigger than Héla!

1. Héla Boujneh’s case is a FEMINIST ISSUE Héla is a young female activist, academic, and legal advocate with political influence, legal knowledge, and the symbolic power she gained when awarded the position of Person of the Future 2013 for her outstanding commitment to youth and human rights. Throughout her life, she has stood up against injustice, oppression, and totalitarianism at the risk of her personal safety. Dedicated to women’s issues, shortly before her arrest, she launched “Yezzi”, a new campaign to denounce the widespread sexual harassment of women and to condemn social complacency, and particularly that of the police vis-à-vis the perpetrators. ( http://yezzi.wesign.it/en)

We CANNOT let this role model for young women in the world, especially in Tunisia succumb to the injustice of POLICE BRUTALITY, OVERT SEXISM and the ABUSE OF THE LEGAL SYSTEM

2. We must RESIST POLICE BRUTALITY for the sake of all YOUTH

Héla is one of the many Tunisian youth activists, particularly women, who are being targeted by the police for speaking out against human rights violations. Earlier this year, rap artist Weld 15 was arrested and jailed his song, Boulicia Kleb, which criticized the police. Weeks before Ms. Boujneh was arrested, two young women bloggers from Gasserine were killed by the police. Last week, Lina ben Mhenni, activist blogger, award-winning journalist, and assistant lecturer at Tunis University was arrested on trumped up charges. These cases demonstrate an escalating pattern of police abuse and intimidation directed towards Tunisian youth who fought to bring democracy to their country.

These flagrant violations of human rights are part of an overall strategy in post-revolutionary Tunisia to silence youth and women through intimidation and abuse.  As a leading activist supporting the interests of youth, Héla led a campaign named “Tunisian Youth: It’s not a Lie, They are the Knights of the Future,” in which she successfully fought to change the age limit of political participation from 35 to 30 to ensure youth representation in the country’s transition to democracy. Her case is the latest among several attempts to silence the most active and visible youth activists who speak out against the abuses of the police.

We CANNOT let the police INTIMIDATE, HARASS, OR SILENCE the youth of Tunisian or anywhere in the world!

3. Héla is a HUMAN BEING and a CITIZEN of the WORLD

Perhaps most importantly, it is critical to support this case quite simply because—Héla is a human being. She is a person, like most of us, who seeks an end to all the injustice, oppression, and violence in the world. This case of police brutality is not an isolated incident nor is it specific to Tunisia. For example, the UN just condemned the level of police brutality in the United States including those directed at young protestors. Activists, journalists, and academics are also being intimidated, tasered, fired, beaten, and jailed throughout the Western world.

We CANNOT stand by anymore and watch human beings subjected to POLICE BRUTALITY, not in Tunisia, not anywhere.

4. Héla's Testimony (translated from French)

On the evening of Sunday, August 24, 2014, my father received a phone call from my brother who told him the police arrested him for riding his motorcycle without a helmet. Still in shock from the murder of the two girls from Gasserine, I grabbed my bag and accompanied my father to the police station in Bab Bhar in Sousse. We arrived there around 11pm, but the officers outside the building wouldn’t allow us to enter. I sympathized with them about being overworked and I even agreed with one of them that they should seek improvements by working with our association. As I was taking photos of the police station around 1am, I heard my brother screaming…I was scared for him so I ran down the hall where he sat on a chair, I said to him, “Do not scream, do not be afraid, you’re not alone, there are associations behind you.” In that instant, everything changed; several policemen, around 7 or 8, began to push us out of the station and in the background, I heard a voice yell out, “Leave the girl, I’ll bring the handcuffs.” After being pushed, I was shoved into another room with a huge force coming from behind me; the cop stuck up against me so closely I felt like he was going to rape me. Standing there paralyzed, the cop wrapped his hands around my neck and violently moved his hands up and down until I almost lost consciousness.

Then he handcuffed me to a wooden bench and threw a slew of insults at me saying that I was going to be charged with assaulting two police officers (hitting his testicles and causing fractures). The police chief refused to believe that I am a temporary teacher or have a PhD in law, and kept calling me a liar. He confiscated my phone and told me that I took pictures to burn the post, that I tried to scare my brother, and that I had violated laws…I refused to sign the report and was taken to jail.

It was almost 4 in the morning when I discovered the other world that exists behind the beautiful Bab Bhar building. As I awaited my fate, which felt like forever, some black inmates advised me to wear my hair down to cover the marks on my neck so the police would not see them and keep me there longer until they disappeared to hide the attack.

INHUMAN CONDITIONS in detention and ABUSE have disenchanted me. They refused to remove the handcuffs and one of the guards said to me, “apparently you get into a lot and you love that we have done things to you,” while giving me a vicious and wicked look. At past noon, feeling desperate, I heard my name and they opened the iron gate. The judicial police asked me to sign the detention report, I refused… I was taken out to the courthouse where the deputy prosecutor told me, “You know Héla, your fault is to believe in rights and associations. Come back down to earth. You are risking your career.” He then asked, “is it true that you struck a police officer?” I told him, “But I have not signed their report. That proves that I do not approve of their version!!! They are the ones that have physically and verbally assaulted me…my brother has been acquitted. I just need to bring the papers…My sentencing was postponed until September 1, my crime—being and ACTIVIST AND A BELIEVER IN HUMAN RIGHTS…my reward—SEXUAL ASSAULT AND INTIMIDATION by the POLICE…after bloggers and rappers you attack a girl who believes in Human Rights.
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$945 of $20,000 goal

Raised by 16 people in 51 months
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Created September 5, 2014
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