City of origin: Tunisia
Ciutat of refuge: Barcelona
Duration of period in refuge: 2010-2011
Lettre à une amie iraquienne, L’Europe et ses despotes
Sihem Bensedrine is a high profiled Tunisian journalist and human rights activist. She was prevented from working in her own country because of her fight for human rights and free speech. She faced long term persecution and reprisals against herself and her family.
A graduate of philosophy of the University of Toulouse (France), Sihem Bensedrine has been engaged in the fight for human rights in Tunisia since 1980. As a journalist, she made her debut in the independent press in Tunesia, which prospered in the 1980s. This was the beginning of a fight for press freedom. This struggle also extended to the feminist sphere where she was at the origin of the birth of a women’s club, Club Tahar Haddad, and of Nissa, a feminist magazine.
Bensedrine is now editor in chief of the online magazine Ka¬lima and Radio Kalima (web and satellite radio). Through her leadership, Kalima broadcasted the initial reports of protests in Tunisia at the outset of the Arab Spring. Kalima was denied registration after five attempts to register.
Bensedrine resided as guest writer in Barcelona City of Refuge from 2010 to 2011. In the beginning of 2011, after the Tunisian revolution, Bensedrine was able to return home. In August 2011 she received the Human Rights Watch Award “Alison Des Forges Award for Extraordinary Activism”.
At the end of the 1970s, Bensedrine was among the founding members of the Tunisian Human Rights League (LTDH), part of the award-winning “National Dialogue Quartet” that was given the Nobel Peace Prize in 2015. When she returned from exile to her home country on 14 January 2011, the day of the dictator’s escape, she immediately resumed her work within the LTDH. In 2015, Sihem Bensedrine became head of Tunisia’s truth and dignity commission, investigating crimes of the pre-revolutionary regime in Tunesia.