Tag Archives: Tunisia

( The Tunisian authorities must launch an independent and impartial investigation into the death of a 13-year-old boy shot during protests in the central town of Sidi Bouzid, Amnesty International said today.

Thabet al-Hajlaoui was reportedly killed on Sunday after security forces opened fire on anti-government protesters in front of an army compound in the town famous for sparking mass demonstrations that spread across the region.

Some protesters lit rubber tyres and threw rocks during the rally calling for former government officials to be put on trial.

“The security forces must answer for this tragic death. The firing of live ammunition against Sunday’s protesters in Sidi Bouzid is a stark reminder of the methods used against protesters under Ben Ali” said Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui, Middle East and North Africa Deputy Director at Amnesty International.

“Although the Tunisian authorities have a responsibility to maintain public order the  use of firearms has resulted in the death of a young bystander and raises fears that the security forces are slipping off the leash. A thorough and impartial investigation must be launched and those responsible brought to justice.”

Thabet al-Hajlaoui’s family told Amnesty International he had heard the noise of the demonstrations and had gone out to watch them. He hid behind a wall, occasionally coming out from his hiding place to take a look.

An eyewitness told Amnesty International that while he was out in the open Thabet al-Hajlaoui was hit by a bullet that ricocheted from his arm into his chest. He was dead by the time he reached hospital.

Demonstrators had  tried to gather in Kasbah Square in Tunis on Friday 15 July demanding the reform of the judiciary, the resignation of the ministers of the interior and of justice and that those involved in the killings during the December and January protests be brought to justice.

Many protesters, journalists and human rights activists were prevented from reaching the sit-in by security officers who chased them either on motorcycles or on foot. Scores of people were said to have sustained head and other injuries.

Ahmed Ben Nacib, a 20-year-old human rights activist from Tunisian human rights organization Liberty and Equity, was chased by three motorcycles and then beaten by truncheons, kicked and slapped. He was then taken to a police station in Tunis.

When he told the police that he was covering the sit-in as part of his work for the organization, Ahmed Ben Nacib was again assaulted. He was released later the same day.

According to other reports tear gas was used against protesters in the streets as well as in the Kasbah Mosque, where apparently dozens had sought refuge. At around 7pm, the security forces raided the mosque and assaulted and arrested several people.

At least 47 protesters were reportedly arrested and taken to Bouchoucha Prison. Several detainees are said to have been injured during their arrest as the Kasbah sit-in was forcibly dispersed by Tunisian security forces using truncheons.

On 16 July, the Ministry of Interior stated that protesters had thrown stones and metallic objects at the security forces who tried to disperse them, and consequently 18 security officers were injured. He added that the security forces acted within the law.

“The statements made by the Tunisian authorities do not provide adequate answers,” said Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui.

“Tunisians must enjoy the right to protest and the fact that some demonstrators might have thrown stones is no excuse to use excessive force to disperse them.

“The statements also show that the Tunisian authorities have not learned anything from the death of over 300 protesters in the December/January uprising. Instead of fully investigating the events that led to those deaths, they are now falling back on the use of excessive force to police demonstrations.”


( This bibliographical entry is a contribution to the recovery of the history of anarchism in Tunisia. It tells only part of a larger story.

Born in Roseto Capo Spulico (in the province of Cosenza, Calabria) on 18 March 1855, his parents were Leonardo and Elisabetta Aletta, both from well-off families. He attended primary school in Calabria and moved to Naples to attend high school, where his teacher for the final year was Giovanni Bovio. He went on to university to study medicine, though he did not graduate – as he said to A[ndrea]Costa (with whom he would always remain friends) – until several years later in 1909 when, after a long spell in Tunis, the city he was to choose as his principal residence, he returned to Italy for the first time.

Becoming attracted to the ideas of libertarian socialism, which were widely known in Naples thanks to the influence of Bakunin who had lived in the town, he became friends with E[milio] Covelli and other Neapolitan militants. He joined the International, quickly becoming the most active member of the Neapolitan group, and carried on intense propaganda activity, both with contributions to the existing press at the time and with the creation of new bulletins. In 1878 he joined the editorial board of the periodical “Il Masaniello” a fortnightly which, in seeking to fill the gap left by the move of the weekly “L’Anarchia” to Florence, favoured an alliance with the authoritarian socialists. The newspaper, however, was short-lived and after nine issues, each systematically impounded by the police, it suspended publication.

Relations between CConverti and the other Internationals, however, did not come to an end, and led to the founding of the “Pisacane” circle, with Converti as secretary and Merlino as treasurer; there were also several projects, such as one to print a Neapolitan anarchist newspaper (entitled “La Campana”), reviving the previous newspaper and founding a newspaper to counter the positions of Costa. Both plans went awry, partly as a result of clashes amongst the workers among the members, who favoured policies linked to the particular problems of labour but who often lacked the ability to think in wider terms, and the “intransigently” anarchist intellectuals, who were all given to utopistic dreaming and were often unable to reconcile “final goals and intermediate objectives”.

In May 1885, Converti published “Il Piccone” in brochure format (as it lacked the necessary authorization). It was an anarchist communist newspaper that was quite rigorous with both the legalitarian socialists and Costa, and with the Republicans, who were in those years of irredentism, held to be the most dangerous elements to the anarchist cause. But his forced departure for France meant that he left the Neapolitan anarchist movement in difficulty (and indeed the movement would henceforth become indistinguishable from the socialist movement and radical democracy in general), halting publication of the newspaper for a month and only succeeding in recommencing, until November, thanks to an editorial team composed entirely of students.

Though by now out of Italy, C. also supported “Il Demolitore”, the newspaper of the Neapolitan “Il Lavoratore” Circle, in which he published a letter written together with G(aetano?) Grassi where the two anarchists took a strong position in favour of a modern revolutionary organization. He contributed to the Milan magazine, “Rivista internazionale del socialism” (in which he published an article entitled “La proprietà” [“Property”]), to the Pesaro weekly “In Marcia” and to other anarchist-inspired periodicals, including “Il Proletario” from Palermo, in which he published an article entitled Anarchia [“Anarchy”] that concluded by saying “anarchy without communism is impossible”. A turning point in his life came in 1885 when, having been sentenced to 22 months in prison for signing “a manifesto by the International (the last to be published in Italy) signed by over 300 delegates of branches and federations”, for which “only about fifteen were tried” and “appeals were lodged just to give enough time for the accused to flee the country” (“L’Adunata dei refrattari”, 28 Oct. 1939, p.5), he took the decision to leave Italy.

Embarking at Livorno, he took refuge in Corsica and then moved to southern France, first at Nice, where he shifted the editorial line of the newspaper “Lo Schiavo” to one of revolutionary anarchism, and then in Marseilles. Here he would once again begin to engage in revolutionary propaganda and with the help of some Italian and French anarchists, he founded the “L’Internationale anarchiste”, which eventually came out on the 16 October 1886 after struggling to find funding. The newspaper, containing articles in both French and Italian, had a run of four issues and was quite an important novelty for the anarchist press.

As he wrote in the editorial, the paper set itself the task of “bringing an end to the hatred created and sustained by the bourgeois press between French and Italian workers”, and also the goal engaging in quality criticism of Republican institutions and doctrine.

These positions were later set out in the pamphlet “Repubblica ed Anarchia” (Tunis, 1889), which is the most important theoretical contribution by Converti and were also republished in the Italian press at the time. The programmatic elements of the pamphlet were rejected however, in particular by E. Matteucci in the Rome newspaper “L’Emancipazione”, and it was impounded by the authorities. Having failed to conclude an arrangement to contribute regularly to two medical journals in Paris, C. moved definitively to Tunis with his friend Grassi on 10 January 1887, once again leaving the Italian anarchist movement in southern France in difficulty.

Since the earliest period of the liberal movement during the years of the Risorgimento, the African city had become a place of refuge for numerous Italians (particularly Sicilians) suffering from political persecution, and was home to a community of bourgeois and illiterate proletarians who mixed readily with the locals and consisted of over 100,000 individuals by 1912. In this community, considered at the time to be a sort of African appendix to Italy’s territory and which was predominantly Italian-speaking, and thanks to the circle of friends he soon made (through his uncle, a bishop, according to some sources), Converti was to live the rest of his life, working with great dedication as a doctor in the local hospitals.

A note by the Prefect of Cosenza indicates that Converti graduated in medicine in Tunis thanks to favourable intervention by a cardinal. But having obtained his degree, his sterling work contributed to the extension of the Tunisian healthcare system -in his opinion far from being acceptable – and setting up the “Green Cross” Relief Society [Società di soccorso “Croce Verde”], to the approval even of Muslims, an organization which he presided over for several decades.

Apart from his work as a doctor to the indigent, C. soon became one of the fathers of the Maghrebi workers movement, continuing his journalistic battles, remaining in contact with international libertarian circles, contributing to several Italian and foreign anarchist papers and publishing “L’Operaio” in 1887, a weekly that described itself as the mouthpiece of the anarchists of Tunis and Sicily. With simple language and a style which avoided emphasis and rhetoric, this “rag” – produced at the newspapers own press – attacked the two main Christian groups of the local bourgeoisie, the French and Italian, thus seeking to “shake the workers and the grey mass of the indifferent out of their apathy” about the exploitation being carried out by the larger companies. Later there followed a syndicalist newspaper, “La Voix de l’Ouvrier”, in which Converti busied himself by studying the causes of misery and possible cures for this curse.

At the same time, C. formed an active anarchist propaganda group, a real hive of conspiracy which was also set up in order to organize and aid Italian anarchists who had fled to Tunisia in order to escape forced residence [translator’s note: used as punishment for political crimes, but also as a preventive measure; it was not imprisonment or confinement, but one was forced to live in a certain place, usually an inaccessible spot or island and weren’t free to move away] in the various islands of Sicily (mainly Favignana and Pantelleria).

In 1896 he started the theoretical magazine “La Protesta umana”, whose contributors included well-known libertarian writers of the time such as A[ugustin] Hamon, L[uigi] Fabbri, A[milcare] Cipriani and P. Raveggi. Converti published some of his own writings too, including a three-part essay, “Idee generali” (“General Ideas”), in which he polemicized with the German theoreticians of naturalism about the concept of the State, seen as the “brain” of the social body. There was also an important and vibrant protest in defence of some Italian anarchists who had fled their forced residence, landed on the shores of Tunisia and been handed over to the French and Italian authorities. After an interval of some time due to tax reasons, the magazine was moved for one issue (June 1897) to Macerata, qualifying it as the only anarchist publication [in Italy] at the time.

In order to spread his theories, C. did not disdain from writing for certain bourgeois democratic news-sheets in the years between 1894 and 1913; many French and Italian newspapers, anarchist or otherwise, published his articles concerning the debate on the political and economic organization of the working masses. These papers included: “La Petite Tunisie” from Tunis, “L’Avenir social” and “Le Courier”, both from Tunis, “L’Emancipateur” from Algiers, “Il Progresso” from Palermo, “Il Picconiere” from Marseilles, “L’Avvenire sociale” from Messina, all of which were anarchist papers; “Il Secolo” and “La Gazzetta” from Milan, “Il Momento” from Paris and also the “Unione” from Tunis, the official mouthpiece of the Italian community, founded by the Livornese.

In the early 1900s, there was a partial evolution in his revolutionary propaganda, partly due to the conditions of the Tunisian working class, who were the target of great attention from democratic circles, and this led to the creation of benevolent societies as well as a move towards the ideas and the parliamentarianism of Costa, who visited Tunis in December 1907 and who indicated in a letter his intention to see Converti after so many years. The meeting, if it did come about, was certainly decisive in the decision he made in 1913 when in Calabria to allow himself to be carried along by a vast popular movement that started in the Upper Ionian region of Cosenza province in order to bring attention to the need for certain types of infrastructure in the zone.

All this led him into toying with the idea of driving the masses into forms of direct political action and he created uproar in Italian and European anarchist circles by standing as a candidate in the Cassano Ionio constituency for the 26 October elections, on an anarchist-communist platform. His attempt naturally failed, despite a vigorous election campaign, and remained as a purely theoretical protest against the centralizing State.

Having returned once again to Tunis after a further journey of several weeks in November of that year to his own country, he dedicated himself to his work and family. He continued to work until the early 1930s as a doctor on the night shift at the Italian colonial hospital G. Garibaldi, which he had also helped to found. During the Fascist period he continued his activities, maintaining constant links with C[amillo] Berneri and anarchist and anti-fascist circles in France and America, and “in his few remaining writings, he returned to the volcanic phraseology of his early youth” ([A.] Riggio, [“Un libertario calabrese in Tunisia: N.C.”, in “Archivio storico per la Calabria e la Lucania,” nn. 1-4, 1947 ] p.87).

While noting that Converti was a die-hard, militant anarchist and “a declared adversary of the regime against which he speaks and writes quite frequently”, in March 1933 the Italian consul in Tunis (who had him closely watched in case he were to organize a mission to Italy “for unknown reasons”) rejected the possibility that “he [had it] in mind to come to Italy for any criminal intent”, even though he could be considered as an individual who was capable of providing aid of any kind to elements who may well commit criminal acts. On 14 August 1936 – according to the consul – he participated in a demonstration in support of the Spanish Popular Front and spoke out to declare his faith “in a better future for a regenerated, more fraternal humanity and to send his greetings to his comrades in Spain who are fighting for the triumph of liberty”.

He died in Tunis on 14 September 1939 and at his funeral, where he was eulogized by the anarchist Sapelli, the entire anti-fascist community of Tunisia turned out to salute him as one.

From entry by G.Masi, in G. Berti, M. Antonioli, P. Juso e S. Fedele (eds.), “Dizionario biografico degli anarchici italiani,” vol. 1 (Pisa: Biblioteca Franco Serantini, 2003), pp. 439-442.

English translation by Nestor McNab, 2011.


(eagainst) Tunisia has lived since December 17, 2010, the day when the current popular revolt against unemployment, exclusion, poverty, cost of living, theshameless exploitation, corruption, injustice and tyranny began. These popular protests started in thecity of Sidi Bouzid and have since extended to all parts of the country. Poverty and tyranny, enduredin the city, are a general phenomenon that affects all the Tunisian people. The rage and indignation is the same throughout the country…

Read more :

The message translated: First – in the name of all Tunesien people – I want to thank Anonymous. Anonymous were the only ones to help us. Anonymous has blocked all governmental websites [of Tunesia] because they [the Tunesien government] have blocked our internet access so we may not get information. Thank you Anonymous! We want to let you know that you have found new allies and that there are many more people living in oppresion.

And that you have won us to aid you in this fight against all dictators thay still remain in this world.

We will never forget. We will never forgive. We are Anonymous. We are legion.

[part hard to understand] to the people in Tunesia: Forgive us that we are so far away from you. We want to be with you so much. But now my brothers and sisters, it is up to us, support your family, support your neighbours, support the [Tunesian word]. Collect money, we let a small basket go round, we will make certain that [Tunesian word] will receive it. God is greater.


( This article by Basel Saleh first appeared on Global Research in late December and gives some of the economic and political background to events in Tunisa.

Mass and spontaneous demonstrations erupted on Friday, December 17th in the city of Sidi Bouzid (central Tunisia) when Mohammad Bouazizi , a 26 year-old, doused himself with gasoline and set himself on fire after a female police officer slapped and spat on him. The only crime Bouazizi committed was that of being a street vendor selling vegetables and fruits without a permit, in a country where neoliberal economic policies failed to provide economic opportunities to Bouazizi and thousands of others like him.[1] Bouazizi’ s attempted suicide, which comes hard on the heels of police humiliation and confiscation of his only source of income, reveals the utter despair prevalent today among Tunisia’s population especially college graduates. Twenty-four years of ruthless corruptions, dictatorship, and neoliberal economic policies led to wealth being concentrated in the hands of very few people connected to President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali and his wife’s family. Bouazizi, a college graduate,[2] was trying to live in dignity and provide for his family by becoming a street vendor despite living in a country that is considered an economic miracle and one of the African lions by western economic monitors and analysts.[3]

The miserable economic conditions in the interior of the country, lack of employment opportunities and political freedoms pushed Bouazizi, like thousands of other young men and women in the Maghreb countries, to the margins of society. Tunisia’s national unemployment rate, which understates the true unemployment situation, stands at 14%.[4] However, the youth unemployment rate (those between15-24 year-old) is at 31%. The income share of the top 10% is approximately 32%, and the top 20% of the population controls 47% of Tunisia’s income. Tunisia’s inequality is so severe that the bottom 60% of the population earns only 30% (the top 40% take home 70% of the income).[5] Still, the IMF describes the government management of the economy and the uneven economic growth which benefited mainly northern and coastal cities while marginalizing the interior of the country as a “prudent macroeconomic management.”[6]

The despicable behavior of the police officer described above is not uncommon in Tunisia and is condoned by the police state that ignores basic human rights, shows no respect for the dignity of its citizens, and does not tolerate any signs of dissent. Poverty, unemployment and oppression have pushed yet another young man to commit suicide just few days later after Bouazizi’s attempt. On Wednesday, December 22nd, Hussein Nagi Felhi, also unemployed, unfortunately succeeded in committing suicide by climbing a high-voltage electric power line. He was electrocuted and died on the scene. Witnesses say the young man was shouting “no for misery, no for unemployment” as he climbed the electric pylon.[7]

The epidemic of youth unemployment, inequality, political repression, and lack of any meaningful freedoms inflamed solidarity among the population which took to the streets in a spontaneous and unplanned organic protests. Within days of the attempted suicide by Bouazizi and the suicide of Felhi, protests spread across the country and reached the capital Tunis and are still ongoing even in the face of total national media blackout and police brutality which resulted in the killing of an 18 year-old. This is not the first time the dictator of Tunisia Zine El Abidine Ben Ali has faced street anger over joblessness and economic misery during his 24-year reign, but this is by far the most serious challenge to his rule. About three years ago in January 2008, his security apparatus crushed protesters in the southern mining town of Redhayef when workers and young people protested wages and unemployment.[8]At that time, over 300 people were arrested as a result of the protests.[9] However, this time the desperation among the population has reached the boiling point. Aided by social media, some protesters launched a Facebook page to document riots and share news although the government promptly shuts down any protest-linked websites.[10] The demonstrations are increasing in intensity and show no signs of abating. The protesters are fed up with the status quo of a self-enriching and corrupt ruling family which is the de facto governing system in the Middle East and North Africa.

A Western Ally: The Hypocrisy of Western Neoliberal and Foreign Policies

Respect for human rights and freedom of the press is almost nonexistent in Tunisia. The Heritage Foundation Index of Economic Freedom labels Tunisia as ‘mostly unfree’ nation and marginally close to being repressed—its lowest score.[11] Transparency International ranks Tunisia among its seriously corrupt nations with a score of 4.3 out of 10 (10 being free of corruption and 1 as most corrupt), and Tunisia is considered ‘not free’ according to Freedom House Index.[12] This is no surprise in a country where the government controls almost all aspects of people’s lives. Young people are especially tightly controlled and monitored. Even fields of study in post-secondary education are decided by the government where the Ministry of Education, Higher Education and Scientific Research decides in which field of study students will be placed.[13]

Although the protests that are spreading across the country took on the form of social unrest for the first few days, they rapidly metamorphosed over the last ten days to become a mass political rally by the people. The protesters are now on the streets calling openly for the president Zine El Abidine Ben Ali to leave office by holding signs in Tunisian Arabic dialect that read “Yezzi Fock” (Ben Ali, it is enough) which has become the protesters’ political slogan. Labor and industry unions which played an active role in public life since independence from France are also supporting the protesters. President Ben Ali, nearing 80, is very aware of the gravity and the real threat to his grip on power. His first reaction was to preempt the protesters by firing some local officials, replace some ministers in his cabinet, and then immediately promising more investment and job creation completely oblivious to his record after 24 years in power. When these empty promises failed to deflate the protesters’ anger, he resorted to the routine policies of riot police and explicit threats directed to his citizens. Facing the most serious unrest in the history of his rule, he took to the airways and gave a televised address in response to the demonstrations. He vowed to punish “the minority of extremists” whom he blamed for the riots (as he calls them) and also indicated that these protests “will have a negative impact on creating jobs. It will discourage investors and tourists which will hit jobs.”[14] It appears that the President’s main concern is the tourism industry which is tightly controlled by his family and that of his wife as revealed by several Wikileaks concerning the economic and financial corruption of the first family.

The Tunisian dictator and his family are touted by Western governments as an example of a stable and progressive North African Muslim nation. The neoliberal economic policies are hailed as prudent and wise by the IMF yet these policies primarily benefited his family, that of his wife in addition to other well-connected wealthy Tunisians. In one incident of corruption revealed by Wikileaks, the Son-in-Law of the President purchased a 17% share of a bank just before it was to be privatized and then sold the shares at a premium. Readings from Wikileaks U.S. diplomatic cables underscore that success in the Tunisian economy is directly related to connection to the first family. Income and regional inequalities are on the rise in Tunisia. Job creation and widespread prosperity promised by defunct orthodox economic dictates never trickled down to the masses or even materialized for most unemployed college graduates where net migration has been steadily increasing rising from -16,000 in 1980 to -80,000 in 2005.

The Tunisian Government is an important ally for the U.S. in its resource-driven colonial wars with Afghanistan, Iraq, and elsewhere. A United Nations report on secret detention practices lists Tunisia as having secret detention facilities where prisoners are held without International Red Cross access. [15] Intelligence services in Tunisia cooperated with the U.S. efforts in the War on Terror and have participated in interrogating prisoners at Bagram Airbase in Afghanistan and in Tunisia. Recent Wikileaks diplomatic cables reveal that the U.S. not long ago was concerned about the growing anger on the streets and the corruption of Ben Ali and the Trabelsi family (his wife’s family) who treat everything in the country as theirs. A list of Wikileaks cables from the U.S. Embassy in Tunisia posted on The Guardian newspaper website indicate that the U.S. considers Tunisia as a police state “with little freedom of expression or association, and serious human rights problems,” and the Ben Ali family as a “quasi mafia.”[16] Nevertheless, the State Department boasts about the active support the Tunisian security forces receive from the U.S. in spite of the Ben Ali’s government record of serious human rights violations. According to the State Department website:

“The United States and Tunisia have an active schedule of joint military exercises. U.S. security assistance historically has played an important role in cementing relations. The U.S.-Tunisian Joint Military Commission meets annually to discuss military cooperation, Tunisia’s defense modernization program, and other security matters.”[17]

The fate of the protests is unclear at this point. The Ben Ali government is frantic to control the situation by sending police and security enforcements in the cities affected by the protests. The protesters have been peaceful and have not resorted to any violence or destruction of property. Some protesters simply held a loaf of bread and others are simply holding signs that call for jobs and dignity. In the meantime, the IMF is continuing to push Tunisia to more austere economic policies on the expenditure side, recommending that the government ends its support for food and fuel products and reform its social security system, a code word for privatizing the pension system in Tunisia which benefits the masses of poor Tunisians.[18]The greatest hypocrisy in all of this is that the IMF recommends these policies in the name of greater employment and growth which is the IMF’s cut-and-paste recipe for all nations it studies.

In the meantime, the Western international community has been largely silent about the protests. The U.S. corporate-run media is as usual busy selling air time to corporations eager to cash in on the Christmas holiday while simultaneously raising their prices to squeeze more out of their customers.[19] The New York Times and the Wall Street Journal didn’t report on the Tunisian protests at all. The U.S. State Department remains tight-lipped on the issue and has yet to release any statement on the situation. The U.S. government’s deafening silence confirms the inherent hypocrisy in U.S. diplomatic and foreign policy that is widely known, detested, and recently confirmed by Wikileaks released U.S. diplomatic cables.

Basel Saleh is an Assistant Professor of Economics and Peace Studies Faculty at Radford University, Virginia. His work on Palestinian suicide bombers is widely cited in national media and academic journals. He is currently writing his book Economics When People Matter due for publication with Kendall Hunt in the summer of 2011. The author can be reached by email


(Democracy Now!) In the wake of the ouster of Tunisian President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, we speak with University of Michigan History Professor Juan Cole. “This is the first popular revolution since 1979,” Cole says. “This revolution so far has been spearheaded by labor movements, by internet activists, by rural workers. It’s a populist revolution, and not particularly dominated in any way by Islamic themes, it seems to be a largely secular development.”

Watch it here:

Watch Democracy Now! 01 18 2011:

(Amnesty International) 14 January 2011

Amnesty International is today calling on the Tunisian authorities to rescind permissions to “shoot on sight”, after a wave of protests led to the reported departure from the country of President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali and a state of emergency imposed.

Amnesty International’s investigative team in Tunisia has reported media broadcasts warning that gatherings of more than three people will not be tolerated, and that anyone breaking the curfew exposes themselves to the risk of being shot.  After the announcement, the team reported hearing shots.

“It is simply irresponsible to grant the power to ‘shoot on sight’,” said Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui, Deputy Director of the Middle East and North Africa Programme.

“It is not by continuing to shoot demonstrators that public order will be restored. The bloody crackdown must end.”

This power appears to grant official sanction to the Tunisian security forces to commit extrajudicial executions – in violation of Article 6 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), which guarantees the right to life and prohibits arbitrary deprivation of life.

“The Tunisian authorities have a responsibility to preserve law and order and to protect the rights and safety of its population,” said Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui.

“However, human rights must be upheld even in situations of emergency. Any action by the state, including invoking emergency powers, must be in full conformity with international human rights standards.

“Such licence given to the army and security forces, in a very volatile situation, could be a recipe for further violence and killings,” said Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui.

“Both the police and army should know that they can’t hide behind orders to shoot at protestors, and that they will be held accountable for their actions.”

Under Article 4 of the ICCPR, Tunisia may not under any circumstances suspend basic rights notably the right to life, the prohibition of torture and other ill-treatment, as well as fundamental principles of fair trial and freedom from arbitrary detention.

Certain other rights may be limited, “in time of public emergency which threatens the life of the nation,” but only “to the extent strictly required” and as long as this does not conflict with the nation’s other international obligations, and if the government immediately informs the UN Secretary General about what rights have been suspended and why.

“After more than two decades of ruthless repression, Tunisian authorities must now realize that the time for accountability has come,” said Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui.

“The licence to ‘shoot on sight’ must be rescinded and, if Tunisia is to move forward, reform of the security apparatus must be a priority.”

( Soldiers and police have exchanged fire with assailants in front of Tunisia’s Interior Ministry amid unrest after the longtime president was ousted.

Associated Press reporters saw the shootout Saturday that left two bodies on the ground on a big square in central Tunis. It was not clear whether the two were dead or injured, or who they were. Snipers could be seen lying down on top of the ministry’s roof. The exchange came soon after Tunisia swore in a new interim president on Saturday. The country has been grappling with looting, deadly fires and widespread unrest after protests forced President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali to flee on Friday. Read more…

ext of poster:
Poverty has been growing in North Africa since the beginning of the year. The price of food staples is soaring, there is less and less work, further reducing the pitiful spectrum of everyone’s means of survival. They are bringing out the old trick of the “crisis”, making us believe that misery and revolt are new phenomena produced by it, while they are as old as money and authority. It only took a few sparks in Tunisia to set fire to the powderkeg of an already explosive situation, right to Algeria.
Cops attacked, government buildings, schools, customs, warehouses, police stations, car dealerships, banks and businesses targeted, coordinated roadblocks. Contrary to what power and journalistcops are saying, these riots are not limited to a few imaginary categories (“young”, “graduates”, “unemployed”, “extremist”) but are expressed widely, and their targets are clear.

Opposite, the state’s response is equally clear: in Tunisia, the cops respond to blocks by sniper fire, leaving dozens dead. In Algeria too, thousands of arrests, torture, detentions and killings, while the convictions have started and will continue. As always, as everywhere, the social war is raging, urging everyone to choose sides.
Already democratic or religious scavengers are rushing to recuperate these rebellions for political purposes, calling for reform or regime change, to divert this anger expressed in deed against any form of regime or government. They are already preparing the afterwards, wanting to replace the control of the dictatorship by democratic control, in other words, develop power to make it acceptable.
We who live in democracy, we can say that even if the daily living conditions are less harsh than under a dictatorship, democratic freedoms have never made us free. The freedom that we desire, that, is total and unconditional. Therefore this insurgent breeze, such as in Greece since December 2008 or in France in November 2005, warms our hearts.

That’s why we want to blow on the embers, and then spread the revolt.
Here, everywhere, now, all the time.
The revolution must come from the slums, because only bullets and blows come from above.

(via feartosleep) Original article: