Exiled Tunisian rights activist to return home

16th January 2011, Comments 0 comments

One of Tunisia's leading human rights activists was to return home on Sunday after the downfall of strongman Zine El Abidine Ben Ali's regime, he told AFP by telephone from Paris-Orly airport.

Kamel Jendoubi, chairman of the Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Network and co-founder of the Committee for the Respect of Freedoms and Human Rights in Tunisia, lives in France and has not seen his homeland since 1994.

"I'm going back to the land of my birth, which I miss greatly. I'm heading back in these extraordinary circumstances to live this dream," he said.

"I'm going to visit the grave of my parents, which I have not been able to do since their deaths, and I will grieve. I want to smell the air, revisit the neighbourhoods of my youth, see family, friends," he said.

Under Ben Ali's regime, Jendoubi and dozens of other political and human rights activists were persecuted and many were jailed or forced into exile.

Several have said that, after street protests forced the former ruler to flee to Saudi Arabia, they will now return to try to build a democratic future for the North African Arab state.

© 2011 AFP

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