Frederick Douglass

"Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did, and it never will. Find out just what people will submit to, and you have found out the exact amount of injustice and wrong which will be imposed upon them..." Frederick Douglass

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Dark Clouds Gather Over Tunisia

The Tunisian Revolution is in jeopardy. Ben Ali was ousted, not the ruling class or its government.

The disbanded secret service has reformed in the guise of a union of intelligence forces, rather like the US' Homeland Security Department. M. Taoufik Bouderbala, who heads the commission investigating Ben Ali's old goon squad, said that he disapproved of the "defamatory accusations" against the law enforcement/intelligence agencies. He added that he thought they were being "scape-goated." Not a particularly good omen when the person tasked with bringing people to justice announces in advance that the charges are overblown.[1]

Outspoken critic of Ben Ali and editor of the influential blog A Tunisian Girl, Lina Mhenni, has been very critical of the new regime as well. She' been writing and speaking about police brutality, free speech issues. The authorities shut down a radio station, Kalima (don't know what it means), and arrested one of the broadcasters. They are back on the air, and Mhenni has been a guest.[2]

Egyptian blogger Zeinobia is reporting that Tunisian police have attacked 20 journalists/bloggers since Friday. She also has posted a video (Arabic) in which Farahat el-Ragahi, former minister of the interior, says that there are plans for a General Rashid to take over the country if the Islamists win the election. He also says, according to Zeinobia, that there are business interests running the country behind the scenes.[3]

Shiran Ben Abderrazak wrote a chilling account of the police riot that occurred last Friday in Tunis. He describes a demonstration of mostly young people marching down the street and shouting anti-government slogans. Abderrazak says the protesters were peaceful, and what they were shouting was neither incendiary, nor aggressive, obscene, or insulting. As they marched they came upon a line of police blocking their way. They stopped marching but kept chanting. Then suddenly they were set upon from all directions by uniformed and plain clothes police. It was "chaos," he says.

He goes on to describe his attempt to escape but there were police blocking every avenue and the air was thick with tear gas. He says the police were verbally and physically abusive.[4]

Global Voices has a piece on the same riot. They pretty much tell the same tale as Zeinobia and Abderazar, one of police aggression and brutality:

Protests continue in Tunisia, following the declarations of former Interior Minister Farhat Rajhi published on a Facebook page called “Skandali”in which he predicts that there would be a military coup, by loyalists of the ousted President, if the Islamist Party Al-Nahdha wins the elections on July 24. He also claimed that Rachid Ammar, Chief of Staff of the Tunisian Armed Forces, went to Qatar to meet with the former President Ben Ali, and that Tunisia continues to be run by a shadow government, headed by a friend of Ben Ali, Kamel Ltaief.

Global Voices' version of the demonstrations have the protesters calling for the overthrow of the government (good for them). Everyone agrees the police were heavy-handed.[5]

[1] (French)

[2] (French)


[4] (French)