Target: Tunisian President Moncef Marzouki
Goal: Drop charges on cameraman Mourad Mehrezi
In Tunisia, cameraman Mourad Mehrezi was arrested for filming someone throwing an egg at the minister of culture. The evidence presented for Mehrezi’s arrest was a confession that he admits he didn’t sign. By arresting this man, the Tunisian government violates freedom of media.
Mehrezi was at a festival that marked the 40th anniversary of Tunisian artist Azzouz Chennaoui’s death. That was when Shili disrupted the proceedings by throwing an egg at the minister of culture. Mehrezi’s arrest came two days after Astroblade TV aired the footage. Police suspected that Mehrezi was an accomplice in the egg throwing, which he claims he wasn’t. His prosecution is concerning because it is punishes Mehrezi for doing his job and allows the government to violate and regulate the media of their country.
Astroblade had asked Mehrezi to film the festival, producing a written mission order for proof. However, a police statement – that Mehrezi says he did not sign – claims that the cameramen was planning the assault with Shili and knew of it ahead of time. When Human Rights Watch visited Mehrezi in prison, he stated that he didn’t sign the document because it contained false information. Mehrezi is now charged with conspiracy, assaulting a public servant and harming public morals. If he is convicted of his charges, he will be sent to prison for seven years; a ridiculous sentence for filming another person committing a crime.
Mehrezi’s arrest and detention go against both international and Tunisian law. Tunisian law states that a journalist cannot be held accountable for any idea, opinion, or information he or she has published. International law guarantees the right to “to seek, receive, and impart information and ideas of all kinds, regardless of frontiers, either orally, in writing, or in print, in the form of art, or through any other media.”
The Tunisian government must drop all charges against Mehrezi, as they violates both of these laws. A journalist should not be punished for showcasing the acts of others; doing this will spread fear and limit the amount of power the media has. Sign this petition and make your voice heard – no journalist should ever be in prison for doing a job that is protected by the law.
Dear President Moncef Marzouki,
I am writing to demand that you drop all of the charges on cameraman Mourad Mehrezi, as his prosecution violates both international and national law. As a journalist, it was Mehrezi job to film what was happening in the festival in Ibn Khaldoun Cultural Center. By punishing him you are demanding that he stop reporting on news. Mehrezi’s employer also gave the cameraman permission to film in the festival, and Mehrezi claims that he had no part in throwing an egg at the culture minister. The evidence that pins Mehrezi as an accomplice is also inaccurate, as the man never signed the document and states that there was false information. Your government should be punishing the one who threw the egg, not the one who was filming it.
It is imperative that you drop all charges as this sends a blatant message to your people: you do not believe that they deserve the right to freedom of media. Journalists are extremely important to every nation because they uncover the truths behind every subject, whether it be about the government or about the food they consume. Again I implore you to release this man. He was merely doing his job and was arrested on false evidence.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: Velychko via About.com