A Closure To My Prison Journey

9개월 전

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With much enthusiasm and anticipation, I edit my entry for my Engineering studies choices. We get to fill twenty choices, ordered by preference. And then we get the first choice we qualify for. The students with higher ranks get what they want first, then the next ones get what they prefer from what's left and so on.

I passed the exams had a good rank in my result. I filled my choices based on how prestigious the university is and how wanted the field of study is, at first. But now I'm having this idea of choosing what I want, which was Electrical Engineering, and studying it wherever I can. I edit my form, putting Electrical Engineering in Tunis' Universities first, then other universities in other areas of the country, no matter how far they are, as long as I will end up an Electrical Engineer.

I submit my final decision and decide not to edit it again, even if I still have time to do so, and I join my family, excited, and filled with joy. We are in a rented house for holidays near "El Maamoura", one of the most famous beaches in Tunisia.


A week earlier, I wasn't sure I would get the chance to fill the form before the deadline, my only source of joy and excitement back then was the possibility to meet some of my favorite Football players, who happened to be in the same prison I was in. Laying on a small carpet, under a stinky cover, I woke up dizzy and disturbed, not knowing whether last night's interrogation was a dream or reality. I was hoping to meet "Oussama Sellami" and a bunch of the "African Club" players who were, lately, arrested for smoking weed.

It was a summer Saturday. The fan was sucking the stinky air with all its might, but not with enough speed. There were no other voices except ours. Us, the guys who were arrested in the protest against the new government. We were friends by then, chatting about anything and everything, except our political views. Ok we all admitted we belong to the opposition, but only I admitted I agree with the "Ennahdha" party's opinions. The guys were fearing any police infiltration. After all, that party was still officially an "illegal organization" even if, thanks to the revolution, no one should be arrested for his political opinions or for belonging to any opposition party anymore.

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By noon, They led us to the yard, for lunch. We didn't have any breakfast, nor did we have the chance to even have lunch with the rest of the prisoners. Instead, we went to the yard to eat standing under sunlight.

Sunlight is good, I learned to appreciate it that day, but not at noon. It hurts at noon.

And the food... not sure I should call it food. It was something that once was liquid with some macaroni floating in it, and was supposed to be eaten with spoons. But once it was old (God knows when it was cooked), and so was the bread they gave us to eat it with, we had to stick the hard bread inside the almost solid thing in the plastic bottles they gave us and shew it long enough for it to be digestible.

Not everyone bothered to do that for some unhealthy food, but I did.

Not to lose weight was one of my priorities back then, for the sake of my family! Especially my mom who would have a heartbreak if she sees me badly affected by prison.

Back at the cell, we had more things to complain about and to fuel our chats. Chatting and praying, sleeping, and taking cold showers... that's how our days were passing, so were our nights.

I spent three days and two nights, then, in the middle of the third night, they called my name. They led me to meet "Sihem Ben Sidrine", a Tunisian human rights activist. My family has reached out to her seeking her help.

Everything went quickly, the paperwork was rushed and done, surprisingly, in the middle of the night. I didn't get my bag or my money back, or anything they took from me in the police station or in prison... but I couldn't complain. As long as they were letting me out!
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I asked to say goodbye to my new friends in the cell and my request was granted. They were all happy for me and their morals have risen significantly. Accepting a Human Rights organization's request to let me out was proof that the revolution has in fact changes some things about "how the world works".

Sihem Ben Sidrine took me straight from prison to yet another protest, a night protest, against the same things I was arrested for protesting. She asked me some questions about how the police treated us and about the other guys who were arrested with me... then she left me with the other protesters, waiting for my uncle who would take me home.

At home, after the hugs and cries and laughter, I learned that my family and friends have started a protest asking for my release. The local police called their bosses saying they were afraid the police station will be burned down again if the protest continues (the police station was burned once during the revolution because there were snipers shooting the protestors, killing one and injuring some. I have no regrets for participating in that riot).

That and the human rights organization's efforts and the fact that they had nothing against me led to my early release. The rest of the guys stood at court on Monday (a day later) and were released as well.

No remarks about me losing weight were mentioned, to my great pleasure. My efforts to endure the hard conditions didn't get wasted.

The prime minister didn't leave his position, but he sat with all the political parties, syndicates, and representative organizations to discuss how to proceed and how to organize the first democratic elections in Tunisia.
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This was the fourth and last post about my little journey with the Tunisian prison. Check the previous parts if you want to know how it all started and how it got to this:

1- A Protest Went... Wrong? Fun?

2- Prison, With No Cousin!

3- Interrogation

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