The Sidi Bouzid revolution: Ben Ali flees as protests spread in Tunisia

The Sidi Bouzid revolution: Ben Ali flees as protests spread in Tunisia

Friday 14 January 2011 -- After a dramatic 24 hours when Tunisia's dictator president Ben Ali first tried promising liberalisation and an end to police shootings of demonstrators and then, this evening at 16:00, declaring martial law, he has finally fallen from office. While the rumours are still swirling, one thing is clear, Ben Ali has left Tunisia and the army has stepped in. The comments after this article contain continuous updates of the uprising.

The day began with a mass demonstration called by Tunisia's trade union federation, the UGTT, in the capital Tunis. Between 10 and 15,000 people demonstrated outside the Ministry of the Interior. The initially peaceful scene broke down at around 14:30 local time as police moved in with tear gas and batons to disperse the crowd, some of whom had managed to scale the Ministry building and get on its roof. From then on, the city centre descended into chaos with running battles between the riot police and Tunisians of all ages and backgrounds fighting for the overthrow of the hated despot.

Finally, armoured cars from the army appeared on the street and a state of emergency and curfew was declared with Ben Ali threatening the populace that the security forces had carte blanche to open fire on any gatherings of more than three people. Soon, however, he disappeared from view and the rumours began to circulate. The army seized control of the airport and there were reports of convoys of limousines racing to the airport from the Ben Ali families palace. Finally the official announcement came. Ben Ali is gone. Prime Minister Mohammed Ghannouchi appeared on state TV to announce that he was in charge of a caretaker government backed by the army.

Tonight the long-suffering people of Tunisia may rejoice that their last four weeks of heroic resistance has finally seen off the dictator who ran the most vicious police state in North Africa over them for the last 23 years.

But tomorrow morning will find the army in charge. What will happen tomorrow and the days to follow is anybody's guess. But the people now know that they have the power to overthrow a long-entrenched dictatorship, how much easier to take on a new unstable regime.

Report by Workers Solidarity Movement

Posted By

Jan 12 2011 00:41


Attached files


Apr 24 2011 10:12

Part 4


The UGTT: caught between struggle and betrayal

The Union Générale Tunisienne du Travail (UGTT - Tunisian General Labour Union), the sole union in Tunisia up to now, has for many years played an ambiguous role as part of the dictatorial state apparatus with multiple links to the ruling party while being at the same time the centre of combative, independent trade unionism.

Both poles have coexisted because they needed each other. The UGTT's bureaucratic leadership apparatus has needed, and now needs more than ever, this veneer of militancy and struggle that the militant sector gives the union in order to maintain its share of power within the state apparatus and to survive the dictatorship in circumstances such as those at present. For its part, the militant sector has found in the UGTT the infrastructure that is essential if it is to reach the workers and enjoy legal coverage, even though that coverage has often not prevented repression in such a context where there is a total lack of freedoms.

A little history

As in most North African countries, the first Tunisian trade union was created following the example of French syndicalism. In 1924, Mohamed Ali El Hammi and Mohamed Tahar Haddad created the first workers' organization in Tunisia, the Confédération générale des travailleurs tunisiens (CGTT - General Confederation of Tunisian Workers), which was quickly repressed by the colonial authorities.

In 1946, after a process of union-building lasting two years from south to north, the UGTT, the first union in North Africa, with Farhat Hached (later killed by extremist French colonists) and Ahmed Tlili leading it. From its birth the UGTT was closely linked to the nationalist movement and marked by the subordination of the class struggle to the struggle for national independence, a condition which determined its dependence on the new national state apparatus.

During the Bourguiba dictatorship there were ongoing tensions between its submission to the single party and a certain autonomy that allowed it to put pressure on the power in the '60s and '70s. The general strikes of '78 and the bread revolt of 1984 amounted to the highest levels of confrontation and repression against the UGTT by the State, and many union activists suffered long years in prison.

The UGTT and Bel Ali

In 1989, Ben Ali's regime imposed direct submission on the UGTT leadership, led by Ismail Sahbani, who collaborated in the implementation of neoliberal economic policies and fought the trade union left fiercely. Tried and convicted for embezzlement, he was replaced at the congress of Djerba in 2002 by the current secretary general, Abdessalem Jerad.

The double game played by the UGTT leadership

The history of the leadership of the UGTT is a story of betrayal and manoeuvring. From its support for Ben Ali's candidacy in the elections of 2004 and 2009 to social welfare reform, from the implementation of neoliberal economic measures to their abandoning of the Gafsa UGTT activists, jailed during the 2008 uprising, when they limited themselves to a simple request for the release of the prisoners.

Surprised by the uprisings in Sidi Bouzid and Kasserine, the leadership only permitted strikes at the local or regional level and demands for democratic reforms once the rebel movement had spread throughout the country and many local unions had become directly involved. A general strike in Tunis was not called until 14th January. And on 13th, Abdessalem Jerad, secretary general of the UGTT, was in talks with Ben Ali, looking for solutions to the situation. A week earlier, he had allowed students and unemployed workers who had locked themselves into the premises of the UGTT in Tunis to be violently evicted by the police, and many of them were tortured and imprisoned.

After Ben Ali had fled, the leadership agreed to participate in Mohamed Ghannouchi's provisional government of national unity with 3 ministers, before withdrawing their representatives under pressure from the people on the streets and the UGTT's more radical wing. While people were fighting Ghannouchi's government on the streets, the leadership of the UGTT called for a "government of national salvation", without clarifying what it was to be or how it was to be made up, in an attempt to please everyone.

UGTT involvement in the Tunisian revolution

As I said in the first paragraph, the UGTT has always been an area of convergence for militant trade unionism and the struggle against power. With most opposition political parties banned, with any other trade-union option prohibited and with any organized structure not controlled by the government suffocated (such as the Tunisian League for Human Rights - LTDH, restricted to its central premises in Tunis, always guarded by the political police and prevented from organizing any public event), the UGTT remained the only place from which it was possible to struggle against the system and where the various militant sectors were obliged to work together in order to deal with the union bureaucracy. This historical reality has allowed the formation within the UGTT of a current that for years has struggle for common goals - the radicalization of the UGTT, an end to the dictatorship and internal union democracy, at a price of enormous sacrifice (prison, exclusions, etc.) - and has reinforced its presence in the intermediate levels (general unions, regional unions, etc.) and, consequently, the National Administrative Committee.

All this has resulted in the UGTT playing an important political role in the popular revolt in Tunisia. Involved from the start of the uprising in Sidi Bouziz, its premises have been open, in most cases, for the purpose of organizing demonstrations - often being the starting point of marches. It has organized rallies, marches and regional general strikes in various governorates and is currently committees involved in the committees to safeguard the revolution.

Whither the UGTT?

The coexistence of such conflicting trends within the same organization has been possible due to the situation of dictatorship and lack of freedom. It is still too early to know what the outcome of the Tunisian democratic transition will be and, indeed, the outcome of the next UGTT congress, but it is clear that both issues will influence the maintenance of UGTT as a single union.

The processes of popular self-organizing that are in progress, such as the Union of Unemployed Graduates or the committees to safeguard the revolution, to the extent that they are maintained and consolidated, will influence the future of the UGTT. Even taking into account the weight of a tradition of trade-union unity in the UGTT, in terms of democratic freedoms, sooner or later the impossibility bureaucratic unionism controlled by the state and autonomous, militant trade unionism will manifest itself.

Other options: the CGTT

In 2006, a group of former leaders of the UGTT decided to create the Confédération Générale Tunisienne du Travail (CGTT - Tunisian General Confederation of Labour) as an alternative to the UGTT's dependence on the state.

However, the failure to legalize the union meant a cessation of its activities, and it focused almost exclusively on the celebration each year of a summer school for union training through the Association Club Mohamed Ali de la Culture Ouvriere (Mohamed Ali Club Association for Working-Class Culture, the name Mohamed Ali being a reference to the founder of the original CGTT).

On 1st February 2011, the CGTT was finally legalized and began organizing. However, it is still developing a clear union line and, more worryingly, its seems to be somewhat aloof and uninvolved in the current revolutionary process. From 3rd to 5th December, it is due to hold its first congress, where the line will be established together with its trade-union practice.

The former secretary general of the UGTT, Ismail Sahbani, has also created a third union, the Union of Tunisian Workers (UTT) as a bureaucratic apparatus more for the sake of competition within a possible framework of purely formal democracy.

If the Tunisian revolutionary process continues to progress, Tunisian workers will know the best way to organize themselves. If it retreats or comes to a halt, the various union bureaucracies will continue to play their role in order to avoid any autonomous self-organization by Tunisian workers.


North Africa Working Group of the CGT International Secretariat

14 April 2011

Translation by FdCA International Relations Office

Apr 25 2011 10:09

Part 6


The unemployed movement in Tunisia: an unstoppable process

In the '80s and '90s, especially in the western countries of North Africa, there was widespread access to university for young people from the working classes. The first rural women got to attend university. There were large-scale demonstrations at universities and from them emerged organizations such as the Union nationale des étudiants du Maroc (UNEM - National Union of Moroccan Students) which served as a nursery of activism and united struggle of all the tendencies struggling for social change.

But after university came unemployment. To continue studying in Europe or for a doctorate, masters', etc., one needs to have enough money. To enter the civil service, where cronyism and corruption dominate, graduates from the working classes and rural areas have little chance. Continuing the experience and contacts formed in the UNEM, the Association nationale des diplômés chômeurs au Maroc (ANDCM - National Association of Unemployed Graduates) was created in Morocco in 1992, the first organization of the unemployed to be created in the region and which, after 19 years of struggle without being legalized, blazed a trail in the fight against unemployment.

The enemployed graduates in Tunisia organize themselves

Influence from and knowledge of the experience of the ANDCM spread. Contacts were established between Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia.

In 2006, the Ligue Tunisienne des Diplômés Chômeurs (Tunisian League of Unemplyed Graduates) was founded. Tunisian representatives attended several international conferences by the ANDCM, also attended by the CGT. Post-graduation unemployment was massive and the need to organize was clear.

But in Tunisia, Ben Ali's dictatorship repressed branches of the unemployed graduates' league. There was persecution and division was fomented. The organization returned underground. But it continued to sow its seeds, there were still contacts being made and the uprising in Gafsa was like a flame that the repression put out, but it did point the way.

The revolution arrives. The Tunisian Union des Diplômés-Chômeurs (UDC) is formed

Young people have been at the forefront of the revolution. Mohamed Bouazizi, whose death sparked off the revolt, was one of those educated young people who were rotting in villages with no prospect for the future. But these young people today are organizing themselves. More than 100 local branches of the Union have been created since February, when it was legalized, and so far it has gathered 45,000 members, male and female. In Tunisia, a country with 10 million inhabitants, there are 140,000 young unemployed graduates with another 60,000 students who finish school early. This is one of the motors of change.

We spoke with Salem Ayari, president of the UDC in Tunis. In the last three months, the process has been unstoppable. Local branches are created almost daily. There is a national committee, but without any decision-making powers. They have rented premises in Tunis so that the committee can continue to organize the process. A bond system has allowed the movement to finance itself. Computers from the local premises of the RCD and from friends give the UDC a minimal infrastructure.

Following the experience of the ANDCM, they have developed a standard scale for jobs obtained by the various branches of the association. Actions at local level are essential. We have seen permanent protest camps in various places (Sidi Bouzid, Thala, Tozeur...).

Apart from the common struggle to end all structures linked to the dictatorship, in the field of unemployment the UDC focuses on three key demands:

1. In the civil service, control over and participation in jobs that are created based on real social needs.

2. A social wage for all unemployed people.

3. Support for and participation in job-creation projects. The study of projects by the association, with public support.

The whole process of local struggle will merge on 1 May in Tunis. The idea is to mobilize 50,000 unemployed graduates, showing the strength and capacity of movement in order to promote a policy of job creation which takes account of the people directly involved. They are facing the challenge of the organizational and logistical efforts required to mount such a mobilization with optimism.

But they know they have to combine the struggle and the mobilization with analysis of the current situation and find concrete alternatives for employment that are viable. To do so, they are organizing a conference debate on 9th and 10th May, with the participation of various intellectuals, on the theme of "Unemployment and models for development", as well as the issue of migration.

The ability to organize ourselves

We do not talk about the past or about dreams. Before our eyes, here and now, in less than three months tens of thousands of young Tunisians have managed to make a tool that they themselves have forged, autonomously at each location, with solidarity between all, with common objectives, with bottom-up participation, without depending on anyone. It is not perfect or without contradictions and weaknesses - it is after all a human process. But it is real, present, and something from which we should all learn.


Noa Rodman
Apr 27 2011 11:30
The processes of popular self-organizing that are in progress, such as the Union of Unemployed Graduates or the committees to safeguard the revolution, to the extent that they are maintained and consolidated,

These committees are however small and are mostly animated by the Union of Unemployed graduates themselves :

Bizerte is a city of 200,000 inhabitants (the province, or governorate, has around 700,000) and lies on the Mediterranean coast at a distance of 66 km from the capital, Tunis.

Around 25 people, mostly women, are waiting for us at the House of Culture (now run by the committee to safeguard the revolution) to exchange experiences and ideas with us.

The Bizerte committee is of an open, assembly-based nature. Between 500 and 1,000 people attend the meetings, where decisions are made. The committee is then responsible for implementing these decisions. People attend as individuals, not as representatives of parties and trade unions. The main force is the Union of Unemployed Graduates who have organized more than 10 branches in the province, in addition to the one in Bizerte. Lawyers, teachers, trade unionists and young people all participate in the provisional running of the city. The assembly has elected 25 people to the City Council, which was submitted to the governor of the province.

Total number of the Union of unemployed graduates:

More than 100 local branches of the Union have been created since February, when it was legalized, and so far it has gathered 45,000 members, male and female.

Sunday will be a crucial test it seems for them:

The whole process of local struggle will merge on 1 May in Tunis. The idea is to mobilize 50,000 unemployed graduates, showing the strength and capacity of movement in order to promote a policy of job creation which takes account of the people directly involved.

What Komar quoted shows the islamic 'moderates'(?) party as the big winner:

In a March 2011 opinion poll, the Renaissance Party was ranked first with 29%, followed by the Progressive Democratic Party at 12.3% and the Movement Ettajdid at 7.1%.[21] It was also found that 61.4% of Tunisians "ignore political parties in the country."[21]
May 2 2011 21:46
Noa Rodman wrote:
What Komar quoted shows the islamic 'moderates'(?) party as the big winner:
In a March 2011 opinion poll, the Renaissance Party was ranked first with 29%, followed by the Progressive Democratic Party at 12.3% and the Movement Ettajdid at 7.1%.[21] It was also found that 61.4% of Tunisians "ignore political parties in the country."[21]

This interview with Al-Nahda/Ennahda (aka Renaissance Party) leader Rashid Al-Ghannouchi makes him sound quite moderate (social democracy plus moral conservatism?). At least if it can be taken at face value.

Mahan Abedin -You used to have a left-wing outlook and rhetoric in your earlier days, especially the 1970s and early 1980s. Is that still the case?

Rashid Al-Ghannouchi - In my youth I was a Nasserist. Islam is against injustice and the monopoly of wealth and resources. The notion of Brotherhood in Islam has profound socio-economic implications in so far as it points to the equitable distribution of economic resources. In the economic sphere Islam is closer to the left-wing outlook, without violating the right to private property. The Scandinavian socio-economic model is closest to the Islamic vision.


Mahan Abedin - Islamic Democracy sounds appealing in theory but the trouble is we don't know what it looks like in practice. Let's focus on one important aspect of political theory, namely the perennial quest for social justice. Traditionally Islamists have understood social justice in a narrow sense as a form of charity and not in a deep and contextual sense that takes into account all the prevailing dimensions and dynamics. Do you envisage Al-Nahda and other Islamists making a historic breakthrough in this field?

Rashid Al-Ghannouchi - Al-Nahda hasn't had the opportunity to develop and explain its views. Since 1981 the movement has struggled to survive in the face of fierce repression. Nevertheless, if you review our literature from the past three decades you'll notice that the topic of social justice comes up again and again. We have worked closely with the trade unions in Tunisia even though these bodies were under strong secular left-wing influence, especially in the 1970s and 1980s. By working with the trade unions we realised how close our views on social justice were to theirs. It was amid this process of interaction that we came to the conclusion that Islam - at least in the public sphere - is synonymous with justice and the quest for justice. Consequently we encouraged our people to join the trade unions.

Edit: see also this in-depth article on Al Nahda

The reawakening of Nahda in Tunisia

Apr 27 2011 22:49
Noa Rodman wrote:
These committees are ... mostly animated by the Union of Unemployed graduates themselves

Actually I think this may vary in different places. Part 3 (there doesn't seem to be a translation as yet) talks about meeting the committees in Sidi Bouzid and Redeyef in their respective UGTT locals, and it sounds like there is more union involvement in these towns in the interior (as opposed, maybe, to the larger and better off cities on the coast).

Redeyef in particular was at the centre of the 2008 uprising against the restructuring of the Gafsa phosphate mines (the precursor of this year's uprising) and the report talks about meeting with miners/ex-miners there, along with the unemployed graduates.

Apr 27 2011 23:16

'Manifesto of Tunisian women for equality and citizenship'

French ----- Spanish ----- machine translation

Apr 30 2011 10:17

Prison breakout in Kasserine and Gafsa

More than 800 inmates escaped on Friday from two Tunisian prisons after fires were set in cells, the official news agency said.

Soldiers and security forces quickly fanned out in a search of the fugitives and at least 35 were caught within hours, TAP said, citing military sources.

TAP reported that 522 inmates from the prison in Kasserine escaped after a fire in two cells, and another 300 inmates escaped from the Gafsa prison.

The two towns are both in Tunisia's center-west region, some 150 kilometers (about 95 miles) apart. Personnel at the prison in Gafsa were on strike at the time, likely making the mass exodus by inmates easier.


International Crisis Group - Tunisia report (summary)

Full report (in French, pdf)

May 7 2011 10:05
Protests continue in Tunisia, following the declarations 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.

Pro democracy protestors gathered twice during the last 24 hours, on Thursday afternoon and on Friday morning, in Hbib Bourguiba Avenue, to call for the overthrow of the government. On the two occasions protestors were brutally dispersed by riot police using tear gas and batons…

May 9 2011 10:58
Jun 13 2011 07:53
Tunisians demand release of jailed police critic
Sun Jun 12, 2011 5:49pm GMT
TUNIS, June 12 (Reuters) - About 150 people protested in the centre of the Tunisian capital on Sunday, demanding the release of Samir Feriani, a police employee who was jailed after he publicly criticised the Interior Ministry.
The protesters, who gathered outside the Interior Ministry headquarters, waved portraits of Feriani and chanted: "We are all Samir Feriani!" and "Freedom for Samir!".
Tunisia overthrew its autocratic President Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali in a popular uprising in January that provided the inspiration for revolts elsewhere in the Arab world.
The caretaker government which took over from Ben Ali promised to allow free speech after decades of repressive rule, and Tunisians react angrily to any sign the authorities are back-tracking on that commitment.
Police detained Feriani, a senior civilian manager in the police force, last month after he criticised Interior Ministry recruitment policy in letters to a newspaper. The charges against him include revealing restricted information.
New York-based campaign group Human Rights Watch said in a statement Feriani should be freed and charges relating to his criticisms should be dropped.
"At a time when many Tunisians believe that the officials who terrorized people under Ben Ali remain strong within the security establishment, the provisional government should be encouraging whistle-blowers, not using the ousted government's discredited laws to imprison them," said Human Rights Watch.
Police deployed in large numbers to monitor the protest but there were no incidents.

- from here.

Jul 18 2011 16:08
14-year-old youth shot dead in Tunisian riots
Tunis - A 14-year-old Tunisian youth was shot dead during clashes between the military and demonstrators in the city of Sidi Bouzid, the starting place of the Jasmine Revolution, medical sources in the town told the German Press Agency dpa on Monday.
The youth, identified as Thabet Hajlaoui, was part of a group of around 400 youths demonstrating against the transitional government that has been running the country since ex-president Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali was ousted from power in January.
Eyewitnesses told dpa that soldiers fired warning shots, first into the air and then at the ground, to try disperse the demonstrators, who set tires alight near an army patrol on Sunday night.
Hajlaoui was hit by a stray bullet in the chest. He was taken to hospital, where he died of his injuries, medical sources said.
Witnesses told dpa 'several' demonstrators had been injured by army bullets but had refused to be taken to hospital, fearing arrest.
Hajlaoui's death is the first killing of a protester in Sidi Bouzid since the December/January popular uprising that ended Ben Ali's corrupt 23-year rule and ignited pro-democracy uprisings across the Arab world.
Sidi Bouzid went down as the birthplace of the so-called Arab Spring, because it was the self-immolation of a vegetable vendor in the town on December 17 that unleashed the protests that eventually toppled Ben Ali on January 14.
Sunday's demonstration in Sidi Bouzid followed rioting in Tunis and at least three other towns in the early hours of Sunday morning, as tensions emerge in the run-up to the country's first free elections in decades.
The worst rioting took place in the town of Menzel Bourguiba, 65 kilometres north of the capital Tunis, where 'a group of religious extremists mixed with delinquents attacked the police station and stole weapons,' according to the ministry.
Six police officers were injured, four seriously, the ministry said in a statement late Sunday.
The attack appeared to be in retaliation for the police's brutal break-up Friday of a sit-in outside government buildings in Tunis.
The central town of Kairouan, the coastal city of Sousse, 150 kilometres south of Tunis and the district of El Agba in the west of Tunis also experienced rioting, which the ministry denounced as 'the work of certain extremist forces to destabilize order and sabotage the electoral process.'.....

Edit: more on this -

Sunday's violence was sparked by an incident on Friday when police, trying to break up an anti-government demonstration in the centre of Tunis, fired teargas inside a mosque.
In the Intilaka district in the west of Tunis, about 200 youths -- many of them with the beards typical of Islamists --set fire to a police station.
In the town of Menzel Bourguiba, about 70 km (45 miles) north of Tunis, four police officers were wounded in clashes with rioters, a police source told Reuters.

Jul 18 2011 15:50

Crude scary use of 'conspiracy theory' ideology here:
Rothschilds Stage Revolutions in Tunisia and Egypt To Kill Islamic Banks In Emerging North African Markets, written a few months ago, but only just seen it as it's only just been posted onto a relatively known site.

Jul 18 2011 19:54
A 14-year-old boy was killed by a stray bullet fired during a violent protest in the Tunisian town where the uprisings that spread across the Arab world first began, authorities said Monday.......
After news of the death spread Monday, Prime Minister Beji Caid Essebsi insisted in an address to the nation that the government would stick to the election date, which has already been delayed once. He accused religious and other extremists of recently rousing unrest aimed at derailing preparations for the vote.
Overnight, demonstrators in the inland town of Sidi Bouzid hurled Molotov cocktails, or petrol bombs, at security forces, while police and soldiers responded with warning shots, the TAP news agency reported.
Two other protesters were seriously wounded in the clashes in Sidi Bouzid, where residents said little has changed since protests erupted there in December over unemployment, corruption and repression.............
The momentum of the Arab Spring now appears to be stalling, however. Tunisia, a symbol of the movement, has seen a resurgence of violent protests in recent days, as the interim government struggles to build a new democracy.
In Sidi Bouzid's latest protest, youths gathered late Sunday and lobbed gasoline bombs and rocks at police and soldiers, TAP reported. The protesters blocked the town's main road with a car they set on fire and smashed storefronts, TAP reported.
TAP cited District Security Chief Samir Melliti as saying the 14-year-old was hit by a "stray bullet" in clashes between security forces and protesters. TAP said the police and troops were firing warning shots to disperse the crowd.
No other details about the boy were immediately available.
Nine people were arrested, four during the protest and five others during raids afterward, TAP reported. Vandalism and scattered skirmishes continued until dawn, and military reinforcements were sent to the town while a helicopter circled overhead, TAP said.
In his address, Prime Minister Essebsi called the violence "a premeditated plan" by marginal groups worried they will lose in elections for a multiparty assembly to write a constitution replacing the charter of longtime President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali.
"These parties doubt they will win the elections and fear that the vote will reveal their true weight on the political stage," Mr. Essebsi said. Some 100 political parties have emerged since Mr. Ben Ali fled, many with limited support and organizational experience.
Speaking from the government headquarters in the Casbah of the capital Tunis, Mr. Essebsi said "extremist religious currents and other extremists from the left and right" were behind the violence.....

- Wall Street Journal.

Aug 2 2011 09:03

Insurgent Notes: On Tunisia

pdf version

Oct 26 2011 10:41
Nov 15 2011 00:44

Police violently disperse anti-capitalism protesters

Inspired by the occupy movements taking place around the world, mainly Occupy Wall Street, and under the umbrella of the global event Occupy the World on 11.11.11, hundreds of protesters raising anti-capitalism slogans took to the streets to #occupytunis.

#OccupyTunis took place at the square of human rights in an avenue in downtown Tunis, where financial institutions and banks are crowded next to each other.

Djerba, in the South of Tunisia, and Sousse a coastal city, also witnessed anti-capitalism protests. But it was the protest that took place in the capital Tunis, that got more attention, because it was the largest, and ended with police violence...

photos -- which suggest a lot of involvement from PCOT members

Nov 25 2011 03:24

AA: Riots break out in a second Tunisian province

Riots took place in the Gafsa region on Thursday, following violence in a nearby region on Wednesday night, when security forces were forced [sic] to fire into the air to stop a crowd of protesters attacking a government building.
People rioted in two towns in the Gafsa region, 360 km southwest of the Tunisian capital, after they were left off a list of people recruited by a local phosphate mining company.

"There are riots and looting in Om Larayss and Mthila. It started yesterday and continued today," witness Hedi Radaoui told Reuters. "Youths set fire to police stations and buildings of the Gafsa Phosphate Company and the Office of Labour."

A government official said the provincial authorities imposed a curfew in Gafsa, effective from Thursday, from 7 pm (1800 GMT) to 6 a.m., in an effort to prevent further unrest.

"Everything is destroyed here in Mthila .. most shops are closed, roads are blocked, most of the buildings are burned," Amen ben Abdallah, a resident of Mthila, told Reuters by telephone. "The authorities continue to ignore the region and the consequences will be disastrous", he said.

The Gafsa region, near Tunisia's border with Algeria, is the centre of the mining industry. It is also one of the most impoverished areas of Tunisia and has been the scene of several protests and riots since the January revolution.

Late on Wednesday, about 3,000 protesters in the town of Kasserine, about 300 km southwest of Tunis, tried to storm the town prison.

They took to the streets because they felt the authorities had failed to recognise their town's contribution to the revolution earlier this year which forced Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali to flee to Saudi Arabia.

Kasserine was one of the first towns to rise up against Ben Ali's rule. It also suffered some of the highest casualties of the revolution when police opened fire on demonstrators.[...]

Feb 3 2012 14:08

One year on - interview with a couple of Tunisian Trotskyists

It's interesting that "already Ennahda has experienced a fall in support in the opinion polls, from 41% to 28%. And a certain part of Ennahda’s electoral support is on the streets to protest against the party they voted for in October."

Feb 28 2012 00:41
In the last few days, several offices of the Tunisian trade union federation – the UGTT - have been attacked, ransacked, burned down, firebombed, or been the target of different acts of vandalism, such as the dumping of garbage in front of the unions’ offices. Not coincidently, these acts, repeated in different areas of the country, came after the start of a three-day general strike by the UGTT municipal employees, including the garbage workers, which started on Monday 20th February, to demand an improvement in general working conditions and pay.

At the union’s local office in Feriana, in the governorate of Kasserine, some of the aggressors have demanded of the local UGTT official to open the office, and threatened to burn it down otherwise. Subsequently, the office was ransacked and burned, and official union documents destroyed in the fire. The central union headquarters in Tunis, as well as several regional and local union offices in Monastir, Kairouan, Kebili, Ben Arous, Douze, Thala, La Manouba and Nabeul have been subjected to similar attacks.
The general secretary of the UGTT regional union in Kasserine says that on Tuesday morning a group of activists belonging to Ennahda came to the headquarters of the union to protest against the municipal employees’ strike and that they fire to the building in the aftermath. The communiqué released by the UGTT accused the present ruling parties of wanting to “restore a dictatorship”. Sami Tahri, a spokesperson for the UGTT, commented that “this is a political act, well organised by the Ennahda movement”.
At the end of January, Sadok Chourou, a prominent leader of Ennahda, declared in the National Assembly that strikers were “enemies of God”. He has openly declared that the best solution for putting an end to the constant strikes and sit-ins is force. Quoting a verse of the Qur’an, he suggests execution or crucifixion, or getting a hand or leg cut off.

Feb 28 2012 12:42
Police used tear gas and batons to disperse protesters showing support to the Tunisian General Union for Labour (known by its French acronym, UGTT), in the capital Tunis, yesterday (February 25, 2012). The union, which has accused members of the ruling party Ennahdha of defacing its offices, organized the protest.

Protesters, who numbered 3,000 people, raised anti-government slogans like “People want the fall of the government” and “Ennahdha get out.”

Aug 15 2012 06:49

General strike in Sidi Bouzid called by trade unions and opposition parties against the Islamist government.

In the town centre, offices and shops were shut, with only the butchers staying open to allow customers to prepare for the iftar evening meal, in which observant Muslims break their daytime fast during the holy month of Ramadan.

The strike in Sidi Bouzid had been called by Tunisia's main trade union confederation, the UGTT, to pressure the government to release dozens of activists detained since July, and to develop the marginalised region, where water and power cuts are common.

"The general strike has had a following of more than 90 percent," said Ali Kahouli, spokesman for the December 17 Front, one of the organising groups.

I noticed that the video that goes with that news article shows somebody holding a red and black flag with a black star at 1:16.

Aug 15 2012 06:52

A short video from the general strike.

Nov 29 2012 20:02

Mouvement Désobéissance

Déclaration de principes

 Le mouvement Désobéissance est un mouvement libertaire et anti-autoritaire. Il lutte contre le capitalisme et ses appareils autoritaires. Il vise l’auto-organisation des peuples, et l’auto-gestion généralisée, directe, de la vie et des richesses produites.
Le mouvement Désobéissance lutte pour :
- Appuyer la mobilisation révolutionnaire à travers toutes les formes de résistance.
- Impulser l’auto-organisation des masses exploitées en appuyant leur autonomie vis-à-vis des organisations centralisées et autoritaires.
- Abolir l'État (la répression, la bureaucratie … etc) et le Pouvoir central, pour son remplacement par l’autogestion directe, l’auto-administration des ressources et de la vie.
- Le dépassement de la représentation indirecte issue des rares scrutins électoraux, vers une démocratie directe, seule capable répondre aux besoins de la société et de gérer ses ressources dans la justice sociale.
- Unifier les forces libertaires en Tunisie et coordonner leur action pour l'accomplissement des tâches de la révolution.
- L’abolition de toute forme d'oppression et de discrimination pour une égalité réelle entre les femmes et les hommes, et entre toute autre minorité humaine.
- Résister à toutes les formes de colonialisme et d'exploitation capitaliste; soutenir tous les mouvements de libération dans le monde, et celle du Peuple palestinien en particulier.
- Consacrer une culture libertaire, anti-autoritaire et critique, en rupture avec toute forme de pensée dogmatique et absolue.
- Consolider les tâches révolutionnaires et agir sur le terrain avec ceux qui les adoptent et se mobilisent à les réaliser.
- Rompre avec toute forme d'organisation hiérarchique et bureaucratique; affirmer le principe du dialogue libre et de la décision collective dans tous les sujets en dépassant les systèmes autoritaires du centralisme démocratique et la passivité des spectacles du vote.
- Contre toutes les formes de patriarcat au nom de la compétence, de l'expérience, de l'âge ou d’un quelconque symbolisme, pour affirmation de l’alternance des responsabilités : le mandat impératif, et le droit à la différence.
Les militant-e-s de désobéissance sont des individus libres et indépendants dans leurs initiatives, ils se veulent créateurs de nouvelles expériences collectives

Le mouvement désobéissance est une composante du mouvement révolutionnaire. Il n'a ni pouvoir ni autorité sur les classes populaires qui mènent le mouvement. Le mouvement Désobéissance se place au sein du mouvement révolutionnaire, et il essaie de mettre à sa disposition des outils théoriques de compréhension, et d'action pratique. Il se dissout une fois que l'auto-organisation des masses exploitées prend forme.هيئات-العمل-الثوريحركة-عصيان/إعلان-المبادئ-العامة-حركة-عصيان-mouvement-désobéissance-déclaration-de-principes/395259483883277

Aug 2 2013 10:10

Tunisia: A call for unity

Tunisia: Statement of Disobey Movement


Tunisians have been living since the disbandment of KASBAH sit-in under the dominance of a rivaling political class with homatophagous politicians feeding on the blood of the poor and the marginalized exploiting the wealth in the regions while discarding its inhabitants causing the people to survive with the minimum conditions of life and to suffer poverty and lethargic unemployment. The situation is aggravating due to the fascist tendency the system has taken with the assassinations of political militants Shokry Belayd and Muhammad Brahmy; the list is still open to more assassinations.

Indeed, the dictatorship of capitalism, which caught its breath with Ben Achour Higher Authority for the Fulfillment of the Revolution Objectives, then with the Constituent Assembly and all the institutions and powers springing from It, is responsible for the deterioration of the situation in social and economic terms as well as on the level of security with recurring assassinations.

The overriding and massive movements all over the country during the last couple of days are of dramatic importance as they resulted in the seizure of regional administrative power locals. Yet, this revolutionary step needs to be confirmed for the masses should claim its right to self-manage its resources to end up with any potential attempt of robbing them by any component of the civil and political fight over power show.

The uprising masses should work to put the local and regional councils they founded into action and affirm their priority and right to manage public affairs by;

* founding local public affairs autogestion councils to self-manage the resources and wealth on the level of districts, villages, lands, factories, rural areas and communities.

* founding regional councils (on the level of prefectures) to run and coordinate regional affairs.

* founding a national council formed by delegates from local and regional councils to set a program for development and the general principles of Tunisians everyday life affairs and implanting supervising committees supervising the realization of decisions taken by the council

These are suggestions we give to militant forces on the basis of tearing down the regime, acquiring the sovereignty over their own destiny, cutting, once and for all, with poverty, regional disparities, violence and terrorism, and preventing any detour attempts prepared between the actual shame council, parties shops, and in the corridors of embassies as well, under the motto of either salvation or democratic transition which will become eventually a strong consensus to rob both revolution and wealth.

Aug 11 2014 17:42

Scenes from a revolt sustained:

A film by Luhuna Carvalho, Nate Lavey, Matt Peterson. Associated Producer: Kays Mejri. 2014. 60 minutes. HD. In French with English subtitles.


An essay/landscape film on the insurrection in Tunisia; with various beginnings—2010, 1987, 1956, the present; in Ariana, Gafsa, Kasserine, Sidi Bouzid, and Tunis; a series of encounters with militants, rebels, fighters, unemployed, students, unionists, council communists, Stalinists, anarchists, et al.

We tried to meet with those working to continue the revolutionary process. With very little information on Tunisia ever coming through Western media, we felt a particular void of English-language translations of those who embodied the Tunisian insurrection. So it was this we sought to document.

Tunisia interested us as the spark of a wave of international uprisings, from the Arab Spring, to the indignados movement of Spain and Greece, to the Occupy movement in the United States, and beyond.

How do you organize against nationalism, neoliberalism, and religious fundamentalism; confront the limits of democracy, insurrection, and self-organization; build communism in the immediate wake of state and economic collapse?

Some clips from the film here

Aug 11 2014 17:41
Aug 11 2014 17:29