Tunisia: Attack on Director of LGBT Group

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10/28/2021

Two police officers apparently brutally attacked the director of a Tunis-based LGBT rights group on October 21, 2021, Human Rights Watch said today. The attack on Badr Baabou took place against a backdrop of mounting abuses targeting LGBT activists by Tunisian security forces. Baabou, the director of Damj Association for Justice and Equality, told Human Rights Watch that two men ambushed him in downtown Tunis on October 21 at 9 p.m., as he was on his way home. One was wearing an Internal Security Forces vest and the other was wearing police boots. “The assault on Badr Baabou was a dangerous attempt to silence him and other LGBT rights activists,” said Rasha Younes, lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) rights researcher at Human Rights Watch. “Tunisian authorities should urgently respond to Baabou’s complaint, investigate the incident, and hold the attackers accountable.” The attackers took Baabou’s wallet, identification documents, mobile phone, and his work laptop, which contains confidential information about the organization’s beneficiaries. Damj and Baabou have filed scores of complaints against the police on behalf of LGBT people who had been assaulted by security forces since the organization was founded in 2005. “After they pushed me to the ground and stole my devices, the police officers repeatedly punched and kicked me,” Baabou said in a phone interview. “One placed his boot on my neck so I would stop screaming. I couldn’t breathe.” He said that when bystanders tried to intervene, one of the men said, “We are the police. This is the penalty for those who insult the police and file complaints against us.”

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