Cairo-The Arabic Network for Human Rights Information (ANHRI), Maharat Foundation, and the Gulf Centre for Human Rights, in cooperation with IFEX chose the prominent human rights defender and the brave Tunisian journalist Naziha Rjiba also known as “Oum Zied”, an entrenched frontline defender of human rights, to be the first case within the 2017 campaign “supporting human rights defenders and freedom of speech”.
This campaign is an opportunity to shed lights on human rights defenders and freedom of expression in all Arab regions, after the success of “prisoner of the month” campaign (#theirfreedom_their right) in highlighting the issues related to imprisoned human rights defenders in the Arab countries.
The new campaign will be launched in February 2017 by the Arabic Network for Human Rights Information (ANHRI), Maharat Foundation, and the Gulf Centre for Human Rights, in cooperation with IFEX, and will select a human rights defender every month, then an honoring ceremony will take place on the 10th of December of every year in Beirut to nominate the defender of the year that was chosen among other defenders that were part of the campaign.
It is to note that Naziha Rjiba known as “oum Zied” is a prominent human rights defender, a brave Tunisian journalist, and one of fiercest opponents of the former Tunisian president Zain El Abidin Ben Ali’s regime; she chose to be among the youths who opposed and believed in the fall of the tyrant regime.
Oum Zied was a human rights and freedom of expression activist through her work with the National Council for Liberties, and the Observatory for Press Freedoms, Publishing and Creation, and she initiated a branch of Pen International in Tunisia.
After the first Tunisian elections in October 2014, she founded, with a group of activists, “Yakaza” organization or “vigilance” for democracy and civil state and was its president for three years. She cofounded the party “Congrès pour la République”, but she resigned after it became a ruling party with the success of the Tunisian revolution.
Oum Zied and her family were persecuted and faced attempts to ruin their reputation, and were subject to attacks and harassments.
Oum Zied won many international awards in recognition of her work; she won the Oxfam Novib/Pen international for freedom of expression in 2005. In 2009 she was given the freedom to publish prize by the international publishers association. She has received the press freedom award by the Committee to Protect Journalists in 2009, and in December 2012, after the revolution, she won the freedom of speech award by “Akademia” foundation one of the Tunisian higher education institutions.
In her defend of human rights, Naziha rjiba was characterized by bravery and sincere word, defending citizens’ rights without any discrimination, and spreading the concepts of social justice, and respect of public freedoms in Tunisia and the Arab world. She became an icon for the new generation of human rights defenders, and she is still working on supporting human rights and freedom of expression.