Tunisian ex-minister's health continues to deteriorate: wife

Hunger-striking Tunisian former justice minister's health continues to deteriorate, wife says
2 min read
07 January, 2022
A former Tunisian Justice Minister continues to deteriorate in intensive care after being held in detention and going on hunger strike, his wife has said.
Noureddine Bhiri's health has continued to deteriorate in intensive care following detention [Getty]

The wife of the deputy leader of Tunisia's Ennahdha Party, Noureddine al-Bhiri, has told The New Arab's Arabic-language sister site Al-Araby Al-Jadeed that her husband remains in a critical health condition after going on hunger strike in detention

Saida al-Akrami, who works as a lawyer, said that there had been no improvement in Al-Bhiri's health.

Al-Akrami said that her husband remains in intensive care, awaiting the results of medical tests

"The doctors are pursuing further tests, and they’ve found warning signs that his life may be in danger," she said, adding that she had been able to see her husband for a short time.

"The signs of severe water deprivation are right there on his face and lips."  

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According to his wife, Al-Bhiri asked her to keep her visit brief, going in and out of consciousness as she visited.

He has been without medicine since last Thursday, despite having heart disease, blood pressure and diabetes.

“It’s been nearly a week since he’s had medicine, water or food,” Akrami told Al-Araby Al-Jadeed.  

International NGO Human Rights Watch have added their voice to local NGOs calling for Al-Buheiri’s release, calling his treatment "another blow to rights as President Saied tightens his grip on power".  

Detention in secret 

Al-Akrami said her husband had been detained in secret.

"He was placed in an isolated, abandoned house in Bizerte, in the far north of Tunisia - close to the sea - without any furniture or heating, without even a blanket."  

According to al-Bhiri's account, his guards wore both civilian clothes and official uniforms, and kept him in the abandoned house for three days.

He was moved to hospital on January 2 when his health condition worsened.

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Family’s bedside vigil 

Despite attempts by Al-Akrami and her children to convince the former justice minister to take medicine, Al-Bhiri remains determined to continue his hunger strike.

His family remain sleeping in chairs that line the hospital corridors, pleading with him to relent and end his hunger strike.  

Al-Akrami told Al-Araby Al-Jadeed that there is a strong security presence across the hospital. She said she felt extremely restricted, and cannot access anything from outside the hospital, while nothing is allowed in either.  

However, she remains in Bizerte Hospital with her husband, despite Ennahdha officials calling on her to leave the hospital.