Nabil Jridet, director of the Arabic-language weekly newspaper al-Oula, who began a hunger-strike on May 9 at the headquarters of the Tunisian Journalists' Syndicate, announced he would end his strike
on Wednesday at a press conference to be held in the headquarters of the Ministry of Human Rights and Transitional Justice.
Jridet told the Tunisian official news agency, TAP News, that he had decided to end the strike after Human Rights Minister Samil Dilo, visted him and expressed sympathy towards his cause, vowing to look into his case.
On May 3, Jridet announced his intentions to go on hunger strike, citing unfair distribution of paid public advertisements and other announcements, was the reason for his action.
Under the previous regime, the Tunisian Agency of External Communication, referred to by its French acronym ATCE, was in charge of allocating paid public announcements and other funding to media outlets. The body, which was in charge of regulating the media sector, was widely regarded as a propaganda agency for Ben Ali’s government, and the distribution of funds was thought to be based on the degree of political loyalty to Ben Ali’s RCD party.
After the revolution, the ATCE was abolished and no other body was created to take over the allocation of public announcements to different media outlets.
"Today, we are back to same old practices of the ATCE. The most obvious example is that al-Fajr newspaper of the ruling Ennahdha Party takes a larger share of public ads, and there is no need to ask about why," said Jridet.
"The government needs to regulate this state of chaos. Several newspapers have disappeared due to the lack of equinimity in the distribution of public ads," stated Jridet.
Jridet disclosed that minister Dilo had vowed to organise a national conference in the headquarters of the Human Rights Ministry by the last week of May, with participation of the Journalists Syndicate, and the Syndicate of the Independent and Partisan Newspapers, to discuss the issue.