Amnesty urges release of jailed Femen activists in Tunisia

London, June 14 (IANS/AKI) Rights group Amnesty International has called for the release of three members of Ukranian feminist group Femen, jailed for a topless protest in Tunisia.

Amnesty said the prison sentences handed to the women were "an unacceptable restriction on freedom of expression".

The women -- two French nationals, Marguerite Stern and Pauline Hillier, and one German, Josephine Markmann -- were Wednesday convicted by a Tunis court of public indecency, undermining public morals, and making noise disturbing peace, and sentenced to four months and one day in prison.

The three women intend to appeal their conviction.

The activists were arrested May 29 as they protested bare-chested in front of the Tunis Court building, demanding the release of a Tunisian Femen activist arrested days earlier, Amina Tyler, whose real name is Amina Sboui.

"Imprisoning people for expression is inherently disproportionate," said Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui, deputy programme director for Middle East and North Africa at Amnesty International.

"Even if some may consider the three women's protest offensive or counter-productive, this cannot justify placing them behind bars," Hadj Sahraoui said.

"If the Tunisian authorities are serious about respecting their international human rights obligations, they should release the three women."

--IANS/AKI

pm/

Matches