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Pillay condemns assassination of Tunisian activist who campaigned against political violence

GENEVA (6 February 2013) – The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay condemned Wednesday the assassination of Chokri Belaid, Secretary General of the Democratic Patriots Movement and one of the leaders of the Popular Front in Tunisia.

“I was extremely saddened to hear the shocking news of Mr. Belaid’s murder,” Pillay said. “He was a prominent defender of human rights and democratic values, and a firm opponent of political violence, which just yesterday he publicly condemned as ‘a blow against the democratic process in the country.’”

The victim was shot as he was leaving his home in Tunis on Wednesday morning.

“This crime has been committed in an environment of increasing political violence, including attacks on political parties' premises and gatherings, and killing of another political leader in the South of Tunisia last October,” Pillay said. “I strongly condemn such acts, which – as Mr. Belaid himself said so clearly – threatens to seriously undermine the democratic transition in post-revolution Tunisia. I call on all actors in government and civil society to unite strongly behind Mr. Belaid’s campaign against political violence. That would, at least, provide him with a fitting memorial for his invaluable work as a human rights defender and opponent of violence.”

Pillay called on the authorities to take serious measures to investigate his killing and other apparently politically motivated crimes, as well as to provide better protection to people who, like Chokri Belaid, have received threats and are clearly at risk.

ENDS

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