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The New Arab

Ben Ali regime tortured pregnant women in Tunisia

Two men cry while listening to the testimony of torture victims on 17 December [AFP]

Date of publication: 18 December, 2016

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The second evidence gathering session of the Truth and Dignity Commission, which aims to provide justice for victims of state violence, heard harrowing testimony of torture against pregnant women.

Tunisian security forces under deposed dictator, Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali, are reported to have tortured and beat pregnant women, the national Truth and Dignity Commission (TDC) heard at its latest evidence-gathering session.

Mahrzah Ben Abed told the commission at its second public hearing sessions on Saturday that police officers beat her so hard in 1991 that she had a miscarriage, yet they still did not take her to a hospital for another four days.

"I experienced all kinds of torture whilst half-naked in front of other victims, including fully naked men," Ben Abed said.

"They beat me about the head and used pliers on my bosom among many other torture methods, which were also used on a large number of other victims."

Saturday's session was the second evidence gathering meeting of the TDC, which aims to bring justice to those that experienced abuse and torture under the Ben Ali regime.

Many hundreds of protesters were killed by police officers in the uprising of 2011 and many more again were never seen again after disappearing into the regime's torture cells.

The TDC's first public hearing took place on November 17, as a means for exposing the truth behind Tunisia's harrowing history.

Ben Ali made a public statement in response to the testimony heard at the first hearing, saying that his regime had "committed errors, abuses and violations".

The commission has collected tens of thousands of witness statements from victims, dating over five decades.

"Tunisia shall no longer accept human rights violations, nor shall this land leave ground for impunity: this is the prerequisite for a genuine national reconciliation," said president of the TDC, Sihem Bensedrine, in November.

"Today, the victims of despotism are fully entitled to justice and fairness. This is the message Tunisia is about to convey to the entire world."

A Tunisian court sentenced Ben Ali to life imprisonment in absentia for inciting violence and murder in 2012.

Ben Ali sought asylum in Saudi Arabia after fleeing the country with large quantities of the country's wealth in 2011 and remains there to this day.

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