Two Tunisian associations have lashed out over what they say are arbitrary arrests of students of sub-Saharan origins, which they have called "xenophobic".
The Tunisian Association for the Support of Minorities (ATSM) and the Tunisian Association of Sub-Saharan Students (AESAT) spoke out in a press conference on Thursday (February 10) in Tunis against "arbitrary arrests" of several young students of sub-Saharan African origins outside their university and their homes.
The protesters say that about 300 young Africans of sub-Saharan origins have been arrested, often beaten and detained for several hours without any apparent reason.
'Panic' over possibility of color-based targeting
ATSM has been informed on many occasions of "arbitrary arrests of sub-Saharan students, despite their having shown official ID cards and stay permits to the security forces," said secretary general Raoudha Seïbi, calling it a "violation of the rights of African students".
AESAT chief Christian Kwongang was especially critical of the growing number of arbitrary arrests of sub-saharan students in some regions, particularly the northern governorate Ariana.
"These arrests have sparked panic among African students in Tunisia," he said, adding that he feared the arrests were made on the basis of skin color.
Students 'abided by rules'
Since its creation in 1994, AESAT has coordinated with the Tunisian higher education and scientific research ministry as well as the interior ministry to facilitate the integration of African students, Kwongang said.
These arrests have been made despite the students' abiding by the curfew in place and the country's health protocol.
"It is important to respect the rights of the sub-Saharan community in Tunisia, in line with international conventions," said the AESAT chief, especially as African students play a key role in revitalizing the economy when they enrol in Tunisian private universities.