Home World News Abderrahman Hedhili, the defense of the miserable

Abderrahman Hedhili, the defense of the miserable

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The government is rushing on our reports. They are the first to want to know what we publish! » Abderrahman Hedhili does not sulk his pleasure. The Tunisian Forum for Economic and Social Rights (FTDES), which he founded in the wake of the 2011 revolution and which he chairs, has become an essential institution in Tunisia. “The second civil society organization behind the Tunisian General Labor Union (UGTT)”he says, referring to the powerful central trade union, a real living national heritage, which has accompanied the country since independence.

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Social inequalities, access to water and health, education, informal economy, violence, workers’ rights, migrations: the Forum is on all fronts. Lighting cigarette after cigarette, Abderrahman Hedhili is always on the move, in the urgency of taking the pulse of the social situation in every corner of Tunisia.

“What are the authorities doing with our studies? Nothing, he curses. Tunisians made the revolution for dignity. It was believed that economic and social issues would be the priorities at the heart of the debates. But since 2011, the situation has only gotten worse. When I again asked President Kaïs Saïed what he intended to do, he did not even answer me. »

Injustice is viscerally unbearable to him

No leader has succeeded in gaining his good graces. At 62, Abderrahman Hedhili remains a rebel: “I don’t see myself in an official position, my goal is to defend the poor. » Injustice is unbearable to him.

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Why did the seed of revolt germinate in the youngest of ten siblings, all born into the richest family of landowners in the Sahelian region of Monastir? “During the holidays, I went to work on my father’s farms and in factories. I wanted workers to join the UGTT to improve their lot. My father let me, but a factory owner fired all the union members. »

His home remained under 24-hour police siege.

In the 2000s, he sensed that the leaden screed was beginning to crack, despite the apparent immutability of Ben Ali’s reign. They are a handful to organize support networks clandestinely, especially during the great revolt of the mining basin in 2008. “My brothers and sisters were afraid, they disapproved. »

His functions in the governing bodies of the UGTT and the League of Human Rights protect him relatively well, but his house remains besieged 24 hours a day by the police. “When I left, my wife never knew if I was going to come back. » This incessant control will last more than ten years. But Abderrahman Hedhili has become a master of trickery since his long association with the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine in the 1980s, in Bulgaria and Syria. So he uses it to thwart the police: “My house and its garden open onto three streets, there were three groups of policemen, I still managed to get out. In Tunis, I knew all the buildings with two entrances and I only used them once. »

“We need to review our development model”

Abderrahman Hedhili has acquired an acute knowledge of the social reality of Tunisia and built the largest network of solidarity in the country. In 2011, his integrity and in-depth knowledge of the regions led him to be responsible for the organization and logistics of the elections, with no connection to the Ministry of the Interior, compromised with the Ben Ali regime, and to gain the trust Tunisians.

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Since then, he has been leading his fight in broad daylight and the Tunisian Forum for Economic and Social Rights has become a partner of CCFD-Terre solidaire. “We have to review our development model,” he has been insisting for years. “With my daughter, we discuss it for hours. She is very committed, after her dental specialization in France, I think she will come back to work in Tunisia. »

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His son is pursuing engineering studies in Germany, far from the Tunisian turpitudes. “All young people want to leave, legally for those who have studied, illegally for others. Fifteen thousand arrived in Italy last year and twenty thousand were intercepted by the police. » He does not lose his temper in the face of this tragedy, convinced that only the mobilization of the base will enable Tunisia to get out of the rut. He wants his country to find a third way: “Neither the political Islam of Ennahda, nor the populism of Kaïs Saïed. »

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Extract. “Redefining Progress”

CCFD-Terre solidaire’s Lent approach is directly inspired by the encyclicals Laudato si’ and Fratelli tutti of Pope Francis.

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“For new models of progress to emerge, we must ‘convert the global development model’, which involves reflecting responsibly ‘on the meaning of the economy and its objectives, in order to correct its dysfunctions and imbalances’. . It is not enough to reconcile, in a happy medium, the protection of nature and financial profit, or the preservation of the environment and progress. On these issues, the golden mean delays the collapse only a little. It’s about redefining progress. » (Laudato si’, paragraph 194).

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