Senegal police release activists and MP arrested at Tunisia embassy

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More than a dozen activists and a member of parliament arrested Saturday outside the Tunisian embassy in Senegal’s capital were released Sunday, a local official and a defense lawyer said.

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Lawyer Moussa Sarr said 14 people including MP Guy Marius Sagna were arrested Saturday and held at the central police station after turning up to deliver letters of protest over recent violence against sub-Saharan Africans in Tunisia.

“Guy and the 13 others were released by the police at 5:00 am,” he told AFP on Sunday.

On Saturday, he said they were “arrested for participating in a banned demonstration”.

The prefect of Dakar, Mor Talla Tine, confirmed the arrests and their release Sunday.

Sarr said two journalists had also been arrested but were immediately released.

The incident followed international outcry over a wave of attacks against sub-Saharan Africans in Tunisia triggered by a February 21 tirade by Tunisian President Kais Saied.

In the speech, Saied ordered officials to take “urgent measures” to tackle irregular migration, claiming without offering evidence that “a criminal plot” was under way “to change Tunisia’s demographic makeup”.

The Senegal activists belong to several organizations that had called on their members to bring letters of protest to the embassy after Senegalese authorities banned a rally planned for Saturday.

“We... are writing this letter to protest against the hunt for black Africans in Tunisia following the racist and hateful remarks made by the Tunisian president”, said one of the letters an activist shared with AFP.

Since Saied’s speech, rights groups in Tunisia have reported a spike in vigilante violence, including the stabbings of sub-Saharan Africans.

Many lost their jobs and homes overnight.

More than 300 people have been repatriated home to Guinea, Mali and Ivory Coast from the North African country in recent days.

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