Ghar Al-Milh Prison
Karraka Prison is located in the coastal city of Ghar Al-Milh of Bizerte. Its geographical location makes it easy to control because it can only be accessed from one side.
It is seen as a fort or a castle whose original structure, maintained to this day, dates back to the period of Turkish-Spanish conflicts in the Mediterranean. It was used as a prison and even as a centre for adjudication of cases during the Beys era, under the French colonization and after independence. The post-independence governments used it to abuse their opponents and prisoners who were serving long-term sentences. Part of the prison was called the ‘camel neck,’ as it was dark and very humid, barely allowing air to circulate or change. It was dedicated to two major opponents (the Yusufids and then the coup group), who were tied up with shackles and handcuffs tied to the walls. These detainees hardly ever leave the place and are left there to be whipped and humiliated in the courtyard.
Most of the prisoners in Karraka were forced to do hard labour while whipped and flagged. It is said that one of the prison guards used to leave his hat in a place where the prisoners could see it as they passed by it, while he hid himself and watched them. Whenever he spotted a prisoner who had not duly greeted the hat with appropriate respect and submission, he hit him with any sharp tools his hands could find. It is reported that at least one inmate died as a result of such acts. Others recount that one of the Yusufids had lost an eye under similar circumstances.
The Karraka Prison, in Ghar Al-Milh, was shut down in 1964, and the inmates were moved to Burj Al-Rumi prison which is called the ‘Nadhour’ prison since the 1990s. Restoration work is underway to transform the castle into a tourist, cultural site. It may be just as appropriate to seek to transform the ‘camel neck’ part into a site of conscience.