Mens et Manus in Prison
ESG Seminar (SP274):

Political Prisoners:
Personalities, Principles, & Politics

Moncef Marzouki

Dr. Moncef Marzouki is a physician, a professor of public health, and one of Tunisia's leading human rights defenders. He has served as president of the Tunisian League for Human Rights and as spokesperson for the National Council on Liberties in Tunisia, enduring years of systematic intimidation and harassment for his outspoken criticism of the Tunisian government's human rights record. He has been followed by the police, his home phone and fax have been repeatedly disconnected, and his mail has arrived opened or not at all. In 1994, after declaring himself the opposition candidate to Tunisian president Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali, Dr. Marzouki was imprisoned for four months. In 1994, the government even shut down the community clinic he had founded to provide medical care in the slums of Sousse.

His most recent round of troubles began in 2000. In July of that year, Dr. Marzouki was dismissed from his position as professor of public health at the University of Sousse, because of statements he made during a visit to the United States. Fearing threats, Dr. Marzouki's wife and children left Tunisia and moved to France. In October 2000, in response to his continuing criticism of the government's human-rights practices, he was charged with the crime of "spreading false information intended to disturb the public order." In December he was sentenced to a year in prison after a trial that, according to Amnesty International, did not meet international standards for fairness.

In September 2001, responding to an international campaign on Dr. Marzouki's behalf, the Tunisian government formally suspended the sentence. Unable to earn a living and subject to increased repression at home, Moncef Marzouki finally made the difficult decision to leave Tunisia, and accepted a position in the Faculty of Medicine of the University of Paris at Bobigny. He arrived in Paris in December 2001.

Meeting Dr. Marzouki

February 14, 4 pm - 5.30 pm: We have organized a talk at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard, where Dr. Marzouki will give a presentation entitled "'SPREADING FALSE INFORMATION': THE FIGHT FOR HUMAN RIGHTS IN TUNISIA." The talk will take place in the Taubman-Allison Dining Room.

Then, at 6 pm on the 14th, Dr. Marzouki will be available for ninety minutes of discussion with our seminar group at MIT in 24-619.

Finally, note that Dr. Marzouki's visit to Cambridge coincides with an award ceremony at which he will be recognized by the American Association for the Advancement of Science for his "unwavering courage and commitment to human rights." The reception takes place on Saturday, February 16, 5 pm - 6:30 pm in the Independence East Ballroom of the Boston Sheraton Hotel, 39 Dalton Street, Boston.

Last modified on Saturday, February 16, 2002 at 1:51:44 PM EST