Statement in Solidarity with DAMJ - the Tunisian Association for Justice and Equality and with LGBTIQ+ defenders in Tunisia as campaigns of incitement against them escalate
Front Line Defenders stands in solidarity with DAMJ - the Tunisian Association for Justice and Equality and calls on the Tunisian authorities to put an end to the targeting of LGBTIQ+ defenders.
Front Line Defenders is closely following the increasing and systematic defamation campaigns against the human rights movement, including human rights defenders and activists in Tunisia. It expresses its particular concern regarding campaigns which target LGBTIQ+ defenders, and specifically campaigns targeting DAMJ - the Tunisian Association for Justice and Equality.
DAMJ was established in 2002 to safeguard the rights of marginalized individuals facing criminalisation and discrimination because of their sexual orientation and gender identities. Due to its work addressing the critical needs of the LGBTIQ+ community and advocating for their rights, it has increasingly faced human rights violations and threats, including discrimination, violence, defamation campaigns and unjust arrests of its employees and members.
Social media platforms in Tunisia have recently been used to propogate dangerous defamation campaigns against members of the LGBTIQ+ community, openly calling for violence against LGBTIQ+ individuals and defaming them and their allies within the human rights movement. These campaigns have primarily involved posting videos on social media and private Telegram groups. Some of these private groups comprise hundreds of members who have been meeting to plan further violent actions against LGBTIQ+ defenders and their allies. The practice of sharing photos and personal data, also known as doxxing, has put several human rights defenders at increased risk.
The human rights organisation DAMJ – the Tunisian Association for Justice and Equality, remains a target of such campaigns, as individuals have been publishing photographs of its members and widely sharing the address of the association’s premises and its phone numbers. They have also called for attacks against DAMJ’s members and beneficiaries. This marks a new chapter in a series of harassment, intimidation suffered by the association, notably those of which took place in July 2023.
On 27 July 2023, DAMJ issued a press release denouncing the harassment it has been subjected to, having received frequent telephone calls from alleged security agents attempting to collect the names of the association's members and of anyone visiting its offices. The callers accused the association of being illegal and its activities of being suspicious, while threatening that it would be closed down following reports being drawn up by the police. At the police station, the association's legal representative has confirmed the integrity of its legal status and its compliance with all necessary procedures. The association has submitted a request to the General Inspectorate of National Security to open an investigation to this effect.
Front Line Defenders expresses its solidarity with and full support for the human rights organisation DAMJ - the Tunisian Association for Justice and Equality, as well as with LGBTIQ+ rights defenders in Tunisia. Moreover, Front Line Defenders strongly condemns campaigns that propagate hate speech and incite violence against the LGBTIQ+ community and against all human rights defenders and social movements in Tunisia. The organisation calls on the Tunisian authorities to put an end to the targeting of DAMJ - the Tunisian Association for Justice and Equality, hold those responsible for threats and harassment accountable, and protect the safety and well-being of the human rights organisation and its members.