03.04.2009
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Tunisian students hunger strike over education rights

Studying is a right for all.  As is freedom of expression.  And yet, five students in Tunisia are staring death in the face in protest at having these basic rights denied.

Since 11th February, the five students have been on hunger strike in the capital, Tunis, in order to protest at their exclusion from the university where they were studying.  The reason – involvement in student representation activities within the university, an activity evidently not tolerated by the Tunisian Government.

With reports emerging of the students’ health reaching a state of peril as the hunger strike reached its 50th day, solidarity actions were held across Paris calling for the Tunisian Government, and the Minister of Higher Education in particular, to meet the students’ demands to be allowed to resume their education.  But so far, despite the protests and calls, the response has been a blank refusal to even meet with the students and start a dialogue.

The right to education is strongly asserted in Article 26 of the UN’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Expelling a student from his/her university is preventing him/her from exercising this right and as such, is a violation of this fundamental human right.

ESU is deeply concerned by these events in Tunisia and is fully supporting the work of its member union FAGE (Fédération des Associations Générales Etudiantes) in calling on the Tunisian Government to uphold the the UN Declaration of Human Rights, and the principles of democracy, freedom of speech and expression therein, by meeting with the students and acceding to their simple demands. Failure to do so will quite simply mean a human tragedy of the gravest proportions taking place before our eyes.

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