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.

Submitted by Mark. on January 12, 2011

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

Comments

Mark.

13 years 5 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Mark. on January 15, 2011

Monday 28 December 2010 -- The BBC reports that, 'hundreds of protesters took to the streets of Tunis on Monday to demand jobs and an end to corruption. On Friday, one protester was shot dead during violent clashes in the central town of Menzel Bouzaiene.'

Al Jazeera report

Report (in Spanish and French) from CGT North Africa claiming there was a second death

[youtube]lq_oEXLaEUM[/youtube]

Video from Euronews

(Edited for layout)

Khawaga

13 years 5 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Khawaga on December 29, 2010

Someone lit himself on fire there as well.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2010/dec/28/tunisia-ben-ali%3FCMP%3Dtwt_fd&h=ba93b

Samotnaf

13 years 5 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Samotnaf on December 29, 2010

Mark.

13 years 5 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Mark. on January 1, 2011

There are now calls on twitter for a general strike on Monday.

Mark.

13 years 5 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Mark. on January 2, 2011

Attempts to stop internet access

A game of cat and mouse and an actual “cyberwar” is taking place for two weeks now between Tunisian netizens and “Ammar”, the nickname of the very elaborated censorship system deviced by the Tunisian minister of interior. Blogger Astrubal explains its secret techniques.


Tunisian bloggers have long been using circumventing softwares, getting news on facebook and share censored posts, videos, photos or news updates ( like the beating of a journalist) on the main Tunisian blogging platforms and information gateways hosted overseas or via twitter and key words like #sidibouzid.



Still, “Ammar” also seem to want to be rid off social media network: ...



Tunisian netizens- the most connected community on facebook in North Africa- could not upload any photos or videos on facebook on the afternoon of december 30. ...



Demonstrations of support to the #sidibouzid movement took place in Paris, Munich, and Beyrouth. The “media black out” by the main international media outlets and western diplomacy, in addition to the domestic censorship, was a frequent subject of bitterness amongst many Tunisian activists. ...



No internet in Tunis but the media says that the situation is stable yet the protests continue in all regions ...

A new twist to Tunisian protests

There are calls for a general strike in Tunisia tomorrow (Monday), according to various posts on Twitter. Meanwhile, more and more videos are appearing on the nawaat blog showing protests around the country.

I was particularly fascinated by one video showing a small but imaginative protest at an unlikely spot: Bab el-Assal metro station in the suburbs of Tunis last Tuesday. 

People can be seen on the platforms and railway lines, silently holding a hand over their mouth. A train approaches ringing its bell, but the demonstrators stand their ground and the train comes almost to a halt before they finally step aside…

Protests spread to Egypt

Egyptian activists have declared solidarity with Tunisian rioters. They are set to demonstrate in downtown Cairo on Sunday, in a protest that may unite causes, condemning Saturday's church bombing too...

The Tunisian youths’ violent revolt, and their evident breaking point at the hand of a dictatorship that led them to take risks with their lives, has ruffled the feathers of neighbouring governments who fear similar prospects at home. It has also stirred the interest and intrigue of equally disenfranchised Egyptian youth, whose discontent has led to small-scale protests and stone-throwing, but never outright revolt...

The demonstration on Sunday, which will be held in downtown Cairo’s Talaat Harb Square [...] is being fervently promoted by a variety of youth activist groups. Among them, the 6th April Movement, whose 6th April demonstration in Cairo last year ended in police brutality, is especially active.

In a series of declarations released by the group via email, Facebook, and blogs, they expressed empathy with the situation faced by Tunisian youth. Citing it as a regional affliction, they have offered to commit all their resources to helping further publicize the situation and bring media attention to the strife, which activists say governments have tried to downplay and hush...

Ed

13 years 5 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Ed on January 2, 2011

Fuck me, hadn't been able to give it a proper look coz of holidays but this is all really interesting stuff.. cheers..

Mark.

13 years 5 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Mark. on January 2, 2011

'Passive' Tunisians shock region with unexpected protests

CAIRO Dec 31, 2010 - - As the Western countries were busy celebrating Christmas and dealing with air traffic holiday delays because of snow blizzards, the tranquil North African country of Tunisia was going through events that would have been thought unimaginable just three weeks ago – a public unrest that saw thousands demonstrate against the oppressive regime of President Zine el Abidine Ben Ali.
 
While the media and policy makers went heads over heals in the United States and Europe during similar protests against the disputed presidential elections in Iran in 2009, the unexpected events went largely ignored in the Western media. Tunisian bloggers and twitter posts are now the main source for minute-by-minute developments of the unrest.
 
Arabs across the Middle East watched in awe as a stream of online video posts and sporadic coverage from Al-Jazeera TV station showed Tunisians, with a reputation of passivity, rising up in unprecedented street protests and sits-in against the police state of President 
Ben Ali and his regime.
 
The Ben Ali regime exemplifies the so-called “moderate” pro-Western Arab regimes that boast strict control of their populations while toeing the line of Western powers in the Middle East.
 
The spark of the unrest, now about to end its second week, came when a 26-year old unemployed university graduate, Mohammed Buazizi, set himself ablaze in the central town of Sidi Buzeid to protest the confiscation of his fruits and vegetables cart. Buazizi resorted to street hawking to provide for his family in the absence of alternative jobs.
 
Buaziz’s suicide attempt has been copied by at least two other young university graduates in protest of poor economic conditions in the Arab country.
 
Similar to previous unrests in many Western-backed Arab countries, the police responded with overwhelming force. There were reports of use of live ammunition, house-to-house raids to hunt down activists, mass arrests and torture of prisoners.
 
The police initially crushed the demonstrations in Sidi Buzeid after cutting all communications and roads to the town, only to be faced with more protests in neighboring towns.
 
Besieging entire towns is a common tactic for Arab regimes often aided by lack of coverage in the Western media. Egypt had followed the same methods against unrest by factory workers in industrial city of Al-Mahala El Kobra on April 16, 2007 and ended the unrest in just four days after the regime managed to control media reports from inside the town. At the time, Western media outlets either ignored the events or
belittled them as ineffectual.
 
But unlike the unrest in Egypt, there are reports of demonstrations and clashes spreading in Tunisia to the towns of Gandouba, Qabes, Genyana among others and more sits-in today.
 
The Ben Ali regime blamed “radical elements”, “chaos mongers” and “a minority of mercenaries” for incitement, all typical accusations by Arab rulers in face of signs of fidgeting among their
oppressed publics.

So far, according to press reports and Web posts, at least two protesters have died and many were injured in the protests.
 
On Thursday, human rights activist and blogger Lina Ben Mhenni reported a third death (http://twitter.com/benmhennilina). The report has not been independently verified.
 
The Tunisian Journalists’ Syndicate issued a statement last week decrying official attempts “to hinder media coverage and stop reporters from doing their job”.
 
The communications minister has banned the showing of Al-Jazeera channel in Tunisian coffee shops or any public viewing, according to another Web post by an unidentified Tunisian man.
 
A blogger wrote: “They are clamping down on the Internet too blocking some sites and Facebook accounts. I might not be able to post any longer. If I disappear suddenly, please pray for me”.
 
Comments from across the Arab countries followed in support.
 
“Thank Allah the peoples of the region are finally waking up and are protesting against the tyrants who spread injustice and corruption all over the face of the earth,” a post from Dubai said.
 
“The end of the Arab regimes looks so near,” another post from Egypt said.
 
Blogger Sami Ben Gharbia wrote: “Sidi Bouzid discredited The West. U want regime change in Iran and not in #Tunisa? Well, we will democratize to #tunisia 1st, by ourselves!”
 
Other Arabs are seeing the demonstrations as an inspiration.
 
In chat forums and social media, Arabs were applauding the protesters often calling them “heroes”.
 
The Egyptian opposition leader Hamadeen Sabahi called for a demonstration on Sunday in solidarity with the “Tunisian intifada”. The Campaign to Support [former head of the International
 Atomic Energy Agency and opposition leader in Egypt] Mohammed El-Baradei called
 on the Ben Ali Regime to respect the wishes of the Tunisian people.
 
The fear of similar spillover into Arab countries pushed at least one Arab ruler to rush to aid Ben Ali. Libya’s maverick leader Muammar Qaddafi said he was immediately dropping all restrictions on the entry of Tunisian labor into Libya.  Tunisians were free to travel for work to his oil-rich country, he said on Wednesday.
 
Opposition in Tunisia says the unrest has been prompted against high prices, unemployment but now has turned political with some demonstrators calling on President Ben Ali to step down.
 
Tunisia, like the non-oil producing, Arab countries, has implemented a Western-inspired privatization program and gradual cut to state subsidies to staple goods without offering alternative sources of income.
 
Yet as the Tunisians waited impatiently, the fruits of the alleged economic reforms never came. Pictures and video on social media showed protesters holding “bread loaves” a sign of hunger and poverty. 
 
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) puts official unemployment for 2010 at 13.5 but the real figure is thought to be much higher.

Tunisia’s protests caught the region by surprise as the Ben Ali regime, like other rulers, had often trumpeted his country as an oasis of stability and said that he was firmly in control.
 
Trying to absorb the shock, Ben Ali announced a small cabinet reshuffle but left the interior ministry intact. He vowed a clampdown on the protesters.
 
But even if the regime manages to eventually contain the events, the incidents show how suddenly unrest can break out in the Middle East and regimes could be easily shaken by their “passive” people.

Mark.

13 years 5 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Mark. on January 2, 2011

Tunisian government's web site is now down

The faction of Anonymous that launched the anti-Scientology movement Chanology and has more recently been supporting Wikileaks through various information and direct action campaigns has launched an attack on the Tunisian government's web capabilities in retaliation for the censorship policies it has recently put in place. Their main site is down and will remain so for the near future; other actions are imminent. I have been given the following press release from the faction in question and have posted it below the fold; further updates will be added as they occur.

.

Anonymous

PRESS RELEASE:

"And if all others accepted the lie which the Party imposed—if all  records told the same tale—then the lie passed into history and became  truth. 'Who controls the past' ran the Party slogan, 'controls the  future: who controls the present controls the past.'" - George Orwell, 1984, Book 1, Chapter 3

A time for truth has come. A time for people to express themselves freely and to be heard from anywhere in the world. The Tunisian governement wants to control the present with falsehoods and misinformation in order to impose the future by keeping the truth hidden from its citizens. We will not remain silent while this happens. Anonymous has heard the claim for freedom from the Tunisian people. Anonymous is willing to help the tunisian people in this fight against opression.

This is a warning to the Tunisian Government: violation of the freedom of speech and information of its citizens will not be tolerated. Attacks will continue until the Tunisian Government respects all Tunisian citizens right to Free Speech and Information and ceases the censoring of the internet.

It's in the hands of the Tunisian governement to stop this situation. Free the net and attacks will cease. Continue your oppression and this will just be the begining.

We do not forgive.


We do not forget.


Expect us.

Edit: report here

Mark.

13 years 5 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Mark. on January 3, 2011

Reports on twitter that Mohamed Bouazizi, the unemployed Tunisian whose attempted suicide sparked the uprising, has now died in hospital. [Edit: report in French]

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Cairo protest on youtube

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i9Uhzmhdqks

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KLYny5d7xzc

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J7bammTd-Z0

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g3f85m12N_0

It seems that this is still going on along with other protests in Cairo against yesterday's bombing of a Coptic church in Alexandria.

Mark.

13 years 5 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Mark. on January 3, 2011

Screenshot from the government website

Tunisia’s protest wave: where it comes from and what it means

The Tunisian paradigm shift: why Tunisians are changing the rules of the game

The Tunisian Intifada...

It's hard to make out what's happening in Tunisia today. Some reports on twitter of protests by school students, the government hacking people's facebook and email accounts, Tunisian stock exchange down.

Updates on twitter

Mark.

13 years 5 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Mark. on January 3, 2011

Reports on twitter of clashes with police in the Tunisian towns of Kasserin, Tela, Sfax, Om Laarais. Video of protest by school students here. Denial of reports of death of Mohamed Bouazizi here. It isn't clear whether strikes took place or not.

Al Jazeera - Hackers hit Tunisian websites

Online activists have attacked and at least momentarily disabled several Tunisian government websites in the latest act of protest against the country's embattled leadership.

As of Monday afternoon, local time, at least eight websites had been affected, including those for the president, prime minister, ministry of industry, ministry of foreign affairs, and the stock exchange.

The attack, which began on Sunday night, coincided with a national strike, planned to take place on Monday, that organisers said would be the biggest popular event of its size since Zine El Abidine Ben Ali assumed the presidency.

The strike comes on the day that school students return from their holiday.

Ben Ali's administration has tightly restricted the flow of information out of Tunisia since widespread protests began on December 17, following 26-year-old Mohamed Bouazizi's suicide attempt. But reports of civil disobedience and police action filtered out on Twitter on Monday, with some users reporting the use of tear gas by security forces...

Mark.

13 years 5 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Mark. on January 4, 2011

Al Jazeera - Violent clashes continue in Tunisia

Clashes over unemployment and the high cost of living spread across Tunisia, with the latest rallies between demonstrators and police turning violent in the city of Thala, 250km from the capital, witnesses have said.

About 250 demonstrators, mostly students, attended a peaceful march on Monday afternoon to express their support for the protests in the region of Sidi Bouzid, a union source told AFP.

The march then turned violent when police tried to contain the protesters by firing tear gas canisters, one of which fell into a mosque.

Enraged, the protesters then reportedly set fire to tyres and attacked the local offices of the ruling party, the source said.

Lina Ben Mhenni, a Tunisian blogger and university assistant, told Al Jazeera that people in the capital Tunis were talking about some protesters being seriously injured, but there was no way of confirming this as there was an information crackdown.

"The government has cracked down on activists by hacking our emails, facebook and blogs. They have deleted a few pages in which I was writing about the public protests," Ben Mhenni said.

"All the demonstrations that were supposed to be organised yesterday by the students in Tunis did not happen - the police surrounded all the high schools and all the universities in the city."

She added that she had heard about some protests in high schools, but could not confirm any details. Students in the town of Sidi Bouzid held a protest that went ahead without any problems, AFP news agency reported.

"There are also videos online that recorded student protests in the city of Grombalia, some 30km away from Tunis," she said.

These events all coincided on Monday with the opening of high schools after the holiday break.

Following a demonstration by lawyers last week that also turned violent, lawyers once again protested on Monday at the main courthouse in Tunis.

"The lawyers protested for Sidi Bouzid again, but also because of the violence that they experienced at the demonstration last week," Ben Mhenni said.

On Tuesday, the Tunisian Bar Association announced a general strike to be staged next Thursday in protest over the attacks by security forces against a number of its members.

There's more on the protests by lawyers and calls for a strike and international day of action on Thursday in a report in Spanish from CGT North Africa.

Mark.

13 years 5 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Mark. on January 4, 2011

Students protest in Tunisia, in spite of government attempts to block cyberspace

In spite of a total blackout from the side of the official Tunisian sources, bits and pieces of manifestations in Tunisia on Monday have been leaking out. AFP confirmed that clashes have taken place in Thala (250 kilometer centre West of Tunis, between 'lycéens' (high school students) and the police. The students started a peaceful demonstration, which turned violent after the police tried to stop it. After the police started to shoot teargas into the demonstration, the students set fire to tires and later on to the local headquarters of the ruling party Rassemblement Constitunionel Démocratique (RCD).

At the other hand in Sidi Bouzid, the city where the Tunisian intifada started some 19 days ago, lycéens were able to hold a peaceful demonstration without interference. These demonstrations were by far not the only ones that took place on this day on which the winter vacations ended and the students returned to school. In the capital Tunis a sit in was held (see picture above) in the Prep Institute for Civil engineering (Institut de préparation aux études á l'ingénieurs). The students formed a slogan with their bodies. In Sidi Bouzid was a sit in held by the students of the Institut de Presse et des études d'Information.

More details are not known, and that is due to the fact that the main war that is being fought in Tunisia at the moment is a cyber war of blocking the communications through the internet...

Mark.

13 years 5 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Mark. on January 4, 2011

Cyber war breaks out in Tunisia

As the Tunisian uprising continues on the ground with no sign of abating, the battle over information is intensifying on the internet.

Yesterday there were numerous reports of Tunisians' Facebook pages and email accounts being hacked – presumably by the regime – with Yahoo users apparently the most vulnerable.

The nawaat website responded with technical guidance for protecting against attacks. The Tunisian Pirate Party was also reported to be distributing USB sticks containing Tor (anonymity software) to students.

The Tunisian government is regarded as a world leader in the field of internet censorship and it could easily block access to the whole of Facebook if it chose to do so. However, it seems to have recognised that this would be extremely unpopular and could further inflame the protests – so it has opted for targeting individuals who oppose the regime.

The authorities also routinely block access to anything remotely critical which appears on websites outside the country. According to a Twitter user, this article was blocked within 10 minutes of appearing on a Swiss website.

Parallel with the government's assault on internet users, the group known as Anonymous has been attacking government-related websites

[...]

Twitter users reported demonstrations in several Tunsian cities yesterday, though details are scarce. The nawaat website posted videos of two student protests, one at the Institut de Presse et des Sciences de l'Information and the other at Gronbalya Lycée. It also reports a hunger strike by trade unionists in Redeyef.

Lawyers have reportedly called a strike for Thursday, January 6.

The Egyptian foreign minister arrived in Tunisia yesterday for two days of discussions on "key issues of mutual interest". The Palestinian prime minister, Mahmoud Abbas, also began an official visit.

Mark.

13 years 5 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Mark. on January 4, 2011

The lack of media coverage of the uprising actually seems quite strange, the main exceptions being reports from Al Jazeera and some coverage in France. The only coverage I can find from Britain today is a Guardian comment is free piece from a Tunisian islamist which includes the following:

Ben Ali may have brought the stability desired by his foreign backers, but it was the stability of the dead, of graves and cemeteries.

Amid the wreckage of political life, Tunisia's general grapples with two phenomena of his own making. The first is the rise of violent anarchist groups associated with al-Qaida, which have emerged in the vacuum generated by his eradication policy. The second is rage at corruption, unemployment and government repression, which has erupted in the past few weeks.

The writer is the daughter of the leader of An Nahdha, a group that has been accused of involvement in terrorism, I don't know with what accuracy but see the comments under the Guardian article for more on this.

According to an article in the LA Times:

Whatever appeal An Nahdha might have had to mainstream Tunisians was lost in February, 1991, when, during the tensions over the Persian Gulf War, its supporters bound and burned two guards in a firebomb attack on a branch office of Tunisia's dominant political party.

Tunisians, thinking themselves immune from such violence, were aghast. The government tried the fire bombers and their supporters in a military court--one of the guards had died in the attack--and sentenced 265 of the Islamists to prison terms ranging from one year to life. The leader of An Nahdha, Rachid Ghannouchi, has since fled into exile in London.

Mark.

13 years 5 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Mark. on January 4, 2011

Students reignite Tunisian protest after brief lull

TUNIS Jan 4 (Reuters) – Tunisian police used tear gas to disperse a protest by hundreds of students on Tuesday in a town in the west of the country, witnesses said, as violent protests resumed after a brief lull.

“Hundreds of students took to the street this morning in solidarity with the youths of Sidi Bouzid. Jobless soon joined the protests which turned into clashes with the police who used tear gas to disperse the protesters,” eyewitness Belgacem Saihi said from the town of Thala where the protest took place.

Tunisian officials could not immediately comment on the accounts by Saihi, confirmed by Jamal Boulabi, who heads teachers union in Thala.

[...]

Teachers union's Boulabi said students from the town's four colleges took part in the protest.

"They (police) are now surrounding teachers and students inside our college, refusing to let anyone leave the college ... There are some cases of asphyxiation among teachers and students because of the tear gas," Boulabi added...

On twitter: 'Reports of 2 dead in Tala'. No other confirmation of this as yet.

.

BBC - Anonymous activists target Tunisian government sites

Mark.

13 years 5 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Mark. on January 5, 2011

Confirmed report that Mohammed Bouazizi has died

Tunisia: the battle for free speech

Tunisia: the middle east's first cyberwar

Internet censors move into top gear in response to widespread unrest

Tunisian government harvesting usernames and passwords

Tunisia invades, censors Facebook, other accounts

.

This thread now comes up second on a google search for 'tunisia protests'. Unfortunately I think that's mainly a sign of the lack of media coverage of the uprising. And with the clampdown on the internet there seems to be very little new information coming out of the country.

.

Photo just posted up on facebook, claimed to be from strike at lycée Med in Sfax

Mark.

13 years 5 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Mark. on January 5, 2011

Funeral of Mohamed Bouazizi today - reports from bbc and al jazeera - video here - reports of copycat suicide attempts - reports of clashes between students and police in Sousse today - video from school students strike in Sfax here.

the bbc

Mr Bouazizi died on Tuesday afternoon in a hospital outside the capital, Tunis.

A crowd estimated at around 5,000 took part on Wednesday in his funeral procession to a cemetery near Sidi Bouzid, union official Kamel Laabidi said.

He told AFP news agency that the marchers chanted: "Farewell, Mohammed, we will avenge you. We weep for you today, we will make those who caused your death weep."

A massive police presence prevented the crowd from reaching the governor's office, outside which Mr Bouazizi had set himself alight, his uncle, Mehdi Horchani, told AFP.

al jazeera

Recently, lawyers and students have continued to lead demonstrations against the government throughout the country.

About 250 people who marched in the town of Thala on Monday were met by police, firing tear gas to contain them.

The crowd responded by setting fire to tyres and attacking offices of the ruling party.

Police stormed an organised at the Human and Social Sciences Department of the University 9 avril in Tunis, using batons and teargas against the students who had gathered on Wednesday, Ben Mhenni said.

Information from Tunisia has been scarce as the government has moved to censor Internet access.

Activists and those writing about the protests have found their email, Facebook and blog accounts hacked, Ben Mhenni told Al Jazeera.

The Tunisian Bar Association has scheduled a general strike for Thursday.

Activists had tried to organise a national strike on Monday, coinciding with the day that students were set to return to school from their holidays, but it was hard to verify whether the strike had occurred.

.

Callout for general strike and international day of solidarity tomorrow (Thursday) with demo outside Tunisian embassy in London 5.30pm - 7.00pm. Reports on twitter that London demo will be televised by al jazeera.

Mark.

13 years 5 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Mark. on January 5, 2011

Recently on twitter - Protesters marching in the streets near Tunis - The police forces used rubber bullets and tear gas against protested students in Sousse - Polices forces used Armored vehicle in Thala - The polices forces are robbing markets and destroying personal properties in Thala - The situation in Thala: the police forces started breaking in Civilians’ houses and arresting them randomly - Demo in Algiers, police already trying to break it - Algerian people take it to the streets tonight...angry riots covering over 10 cities across the country...

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Algeria tonight...

[youtube]bX1UOxnFI0g[/youtube]

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Egyptian activists charged over Cairo demo

al jazeera

Egyptian authorities have charged eight people with assaulting police and disturbing public safety following protests over the bombing of a Coptic church in Alexandria on New Year's Eve.

The eight activists, who are all Muslim and members of the April 6 movement which campaigns for reform of the country's political system, are due to go on trial on Thursday.

The activists had joined with Coptic protesters to show their solidarity against attacks on the Christian community.

Although it doesn't say so here this demo was initially organised in solidarity with the protests in Tunisia.

.

What's happening in Tunisia?

Report on today's riots in Algeria (in French)

Khawaga

13 years 5 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Khawaga on January 6, 2011

Mark.

Although it doesn't say so here this demo was initially organised in solidarity with the protests in Tunisia.

Really? I am pretty sure that they're all about the bombing in Alexandria; at least according to my contacts in Egypt.

Mark.

13 years 5 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Mark. on January 6, 2011

Khawaga - I'm going off the ahramonline article I quoted above. I've also seen something else on this but I'm not sure I could find it again. This was only one small demo in Cairo though. As far as I know all the rest have just been about the bombing.

Egyptian activists have declared solidarity with Tunisian rioters. They are set to demonstrate in downtown Cairo on Sunday, in a protest that may unite causes, condemning Saturday's church bombing too.

[…]

The unity with youth rioters in Tunisia mounted online, with bloggers and activists taking to Facebook and twitter to declare solidarity and support. In a search of tweets that are tagged #sidibouzid and #egypt, hundreds of entries come up. The Tunisian struggle is the Egyptian one, activists here are saying. It is also an Arab one.

[…]

The demonstration on Sunday, which will be held in downtown Cairo’s Talaat Harb Square – named after the leading Egyptian economist and nationalist who established Banque Misr in 1907 – is being fervently promoted by a variety of youth activist groups. Among them, the 6th April Movement, whose 6th April demonstration in Cairo last year ended in police brutality, is especially active.

In a series of declarations released by the group via email, Facebook, and blogs, they expressed empathy with the situation faced by Tunisian youth. Citing it as a regional affliction, they have offered to commit all their resources to helping further publicize the situation and bring media attention to the strife, which activists say government’s have tried to downplay and hush.

Edit: Found it...

CAIRO: Police cracked down on protesters in Talaat Harb and Ramses Squares on Sunday as they organized to denounce the recent New Year’s Eve attack on Church (The Church of the Two Saints) in Alexandria.

Around 50 Muslims and Copts were violently shoved by security forces, preventing them from gathering at Talaat Harb Square. Some protesters stated they were beaten and insulted by security forces and plain-clothed police officers.

Phones and cameras were confiscated from protesters and reporters who attempted to get footage of the violence.

One protester had her phone flung out of her hand and stomped on by a plain-clothed policeman, described as a “government thug” by protesters.

[...]

The protesters also chanted slogans in support of the people of Tunisia and their struggles against the government.

“[Initially], we had arranged this demonstration in solidarity with the people of Tunisia,” Seif El-Dawla said. “But after the massacre that took place on News Year’s Eve, we decided to support the Copts as well and [to] call for the resignation of Minister of Interior Habib El-Adly.”

“We want to tell the Tunisian people that, as Tunisia suffers from poverty, unemployment and corruption, Egyptian people also suffer from the same problems,” Spokesperson for Free Front for Peaceful Change Essam El-Sherif told Daily News Egypt.

Mark.

13 years 5 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Mark. on January 6, 2011

Algerians follow example of Tunisia: street protests in Algiers and other parts of the country

Algeria’s angry youth violently clashed late on Wednesday with security forces in a number of cities over the rise of food prices, unemployment, and a perceived deterioration of basic government services.

Al Arabiyya tv and Al-Jazeera have both footage of  young rioters in the capital city Algiers hurling stones at security forces who responded firing tear gas and rubber bullets.  Eyewitnesses told Al Arabiya that rioters stormed the police headquarters near the building of the directorate general for national security in the neighborhood of Bab el-Oued in the capital. AlJazeera reported protests at the Martyrs' Square, Balkor, Bash Jarrah, Babal Wadi and Astawali.

In Oran, a major city on the northwestern Mediterranean coast of Algeria and the second largest city of the country, hundreds of young people took the streets and closed a number of streets, according to Al-Arabiyya. . Some of them threw animal bones in the streets and on government buildings. A young protester said bones were hurled as a message to the government "because it left nothing for us except bones."

The correspondent of Al-Jazeera reported that both in Jalfa in southern Algeria and Wahran in the west, also  violent rallies took place in protest over the deteriorating living conditions and rising prices.

Demonstrators posted videos on the internet of large fires burning in the street, police firing tear gas, and protesters throwing rocks.

The riots in the capital reportedly broke out in solidarity with the alleged suppression of protests in the cities of Zeralda and Esharaqa by paramilitary forces, syays Al-Arabittyya. In Tibaza province, 70 kilometers west of the capital, 32 people were arrested following violent riots in residential areas and in the province’s major urban center.

Government-owned TV channels ignored the protests. They instead reported on the progress of government housing and infrastructure projects across the country.

Prices of some food products, like cooking oil and sugar, have increased by 150 percent during the rule of the ailing President Abdelaziz Bouteflika.

Mark.

13 years 5 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Mark. on January 6, 2011

Recently on twitter - Faculté fermé à Sousse, Sfax,Kaserine,sidibouzid,manif à Grombalia,Bizerte Béja,affrontement à Menzal bouziane - New protests in Bouhajla and Nasr’Allah in Kairouan Governorate - New clash in Jebeniana, and the institute of “18 January 1952” is Besieged by the police forces - A sit-in in Oum El Araies agenized by unemployment students and locally citizens on the Railway ores - Clash with police in Thala - New protests in Sousse and Sfax - The rap singer “El general” and a blogger are arrested today - The Tunisian Blogger "hammadi kaloutcha" was arrested today - All the institutes are closed in #sidibouzid and a new suicide threat in front of the government

Mark.

13 years 5 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Mark. on January 6, 2011

Anticipating a Moroccan SidiBouzid?

After the events around the Sidi Bouzid protests in Tunisia, a similar event happened yesterday in Oran, Algeria. In a strange coincidence Moroccan authorities also arrested (yesterday/ on Wednesday) Professor Mohamed Abou Nasr, the President of the Moroccan Human Rights Association (AMDH) for the region of Casablanca...

Khawaga

13 years 5 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Khawaga on January 6, 2011

Thanks Mark. I'm glad to hear that Kifaya (most likely them, if I go by the name) were planning solidarity protests with Tunisians. While I was living there the only thing that riled people up enough was the wars Iraq, Lebanon and Palestine, and of course domestic issues. So it's good that they've broadened the net to include more *working class* struggles in other countries.

Mark.

13 years 5 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Mark. on January 6, 2011

Tunisia: map of social protests

Timeline: Tunisia's civil unrest

Tunisian lawyers on strike --- video

Riots erupt across Algeria over prices, jobs --- photos

Vague d’arrestations de blogueurs et de militants

Tunisie: "Un silence embarrassé prévaut en Europe"

Pourquoi ce silence de l'Elysée et des capitales européennes sur ce qui se passe en Tunisie?

La Tunisie est depuis longtemps un partenaire privilégié de l'Europe sur le plan économique, de la lutte contre l'immigration ou de la lutte contre le terrorisme. Elle dispose de solides alliés, comme l'Italie et la France, d'où, certainement, le silence embarrassé qui prévaut aujourd'hui.

[...]

Le mouvement est très important mais c'est un mouvement populaire et il n'y a pas de leaders politiques, non?

Le mouvement apparaît spontané, et s'il est soutenu par de nombreux syndicalistes militants, il n'est dominé par aucune figure politique.

Mark.

13 years 5 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Mark. on January 6, 2011

Some background information in French and Spanish on the Tunisian opposition and unions. I'm not sure how useful this is but I haven't found much of any depth in English.

To summarise, the sole union federation the UGTT is a bureaucratic organisation that has become part of the apparatus of power. Member unions can only call strikes with permission from the executive committee. Some regional sections are still refusing to support the protest movement.

La Tunisie gronde toujours, mais qui pour remplacer Ben Ali?

L'étau s'est progressivement resserré autour des organisations susceptibles de tenir tête au pouvoir en place. Le principal syndicat, l'Union générale du travail de Tunisie (l'UGTT), a ainsi été infiltré par le gouvernement. Selon Yanis, quelques sections régionales refusent encore de rallier le mouvement de protestation:

«Certains responsables de l'UGTT occupent des fonctions dans le parti unique, ils ne veulent pas se mouiller.»

CGT materiales internacionales - sindicalismo en el norte de Africa

Observatorio tunecino para los derechos y libertades sindicales
ABDEL WHAB AMRI, profesor de instituto y sindicalista, nos explica los planteamientos de la OTDLS:

El Observatorio tunecino por los derechos y las libertades sindicales se creó en el 2008 con el objetivo de defender los derechos de los trabajadores que sufren abusos y promover su sensibilización para organizase, defender sus derechos no solamente en el trabajo sino también dentro del sindicato. Esa es nuestra realidad, tenemos que defendernos también de nuestro propio sindicato.

En el 2007, se creó la Confederación General del Trabajo de Túnez (CGTT) como un intento de crear un sindicalismo independiente del poder. No ha sido legalizado y el proyecto está, por el momento, paralizado.

En Túnez, por lo tanto, tenemos una sola central sindical, la Unión General del Trabajo de Túnez (UGTT), que domina todo el sector público (en los sectores privados, el sindicalismo es muy débil). La UGTT fue el primer sindicato creado en el Norte de África, tuvo un papel heroico en la lucha contra el colonialismo y en las huelgas de los años 70 y 80, sufriendo una dura represión. Es un sindicato con una historia de lucha y dignidad, pero hoy es un aparato de poder, que gestiona múltiples negocios (hoteles, seguros, supermercados...) donde cualquier disidencia es inmediatamente aplastada. Su dirección está sometida al poder, incluso apoya la reelección del presidente en las elecciones de octubre. Es una organización burocrática, que ha traicionado a sus propios militantes en la lucha de la cuenca minera de Gafsa, que llega al extremo de acordar que ningún sindicato de la UGTT pueda declarar una huelga sin el permiso de su comité ejecutivo.

Nuestra organización es muy joven, todavía no estamos legalizados ni tenemos local, tenemos un comité de dirección de 7 personas y tenemos 6 puntos de observación: Túnez capital, Gabes, Gafsa, Al Kasrrine, Touzer y Jandoba. Nuestra actividad se centra actualmente en enviar comunicados de apoyo, presentar denuncias de abusos contra los trabajadores y en visitas de apoyo a reivindicaciones de los trabajadores. Mantenemos una campaña de solidaridad con los 30 compañeros /as presos/as desde la revuelta de la cuenca minera de Gafsa, a pesar de que el poder trata de ocultar la realidad y de aislar a los presos, silenciando cualquier apoyo..

Mark.

13 years 5 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Mark. on January 6, 2011

Machine translation of El País article: Tunis Protests spread to a dozen cities in Algeria

Abdelatif Bensalem, a Spanish-speaking intellectual in exile in Paris, laments, however, that the regime of his country still has the support of France, Italy and Spain and the U.S., countries that have managed to convince that is a bulwark against radical Islam. No European government has condemned the actions of the Tunisian police whose shots killed two protesters on Christmas Eve in Mezel Bouzayane.

The Spanish Secretary of State for the EU, Diego Lopez Garrido, made great efforts during the Spanish Presidency to give Tunisia the so-called "advanced status" enjoyed by Morocco since 2008 and which makes it a privileged partner in Europe, but failed to finish negotiation.

IFEX, a Canadian NGO that supports the Tunisian opposition, tried to hold in November in Madrid, a meeting of dissidents inside and outside the country, but could not because the Consulate of Spain in Tunisia did not grant visas to two prominent opponents of Ben Ali, according to organizers.

More on the IFEX meeting: Colaboración española con la dictadura tunecina

From the IFEX site:

Internet censors move into top gear in response to widespread unrest

Journalist in intensive care following attack by police

Online activity censored, critics silenced

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Some more videos

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Rassemblements à Paris et Genève en soutien à la révolte sociale en Tunisie

Mark.

13 years 5 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Mark. on January 7, 2011

Al Jazeera - Price protests erupt across Algeria

Fresh unrest has taken place in Algeria as protests over rising costs and unemployment spread after a night of rioting in Algiers, the capital, in which youths attacked a police station and torched shops.

Authorities rushed police reinforcements to several towns on Thursday, where hundreds of youths took to the streets.

Youths blocked major regional roads around Boumerdes, about 60km east of Algiers, and Bejaia, 200km further east, the online edition of the El-Watan newspaper reported.

Authorities sent in "a large number of convoys of anti-riot police," it said.

Protests have been reported at the Martyrs' Square, Balkor, Bash Jarrah, Babal Wadi and Astawali, while both Jalfa in southern Algeria and Wahran in the west also witnessed violent rallies in protest over the deteriorating living conditions and rising prices...

Mark.

13 years 5 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Mark. on January 7, 2011

Tunisia and the Arab house of cards

It is three weeks today since Mohamed Bouazizi lit the flame in Tunisia. How are we to regard the events since then? How should we characterise them?

Writing for the Guardian last week, I used the word "uprising", though I can't say I gave it a lot of thought at the time. Based on what I knew then, "uprising" seemed the obvious choice – and it still does if you need to boil it all down to a single word.

Yesterday, writing for Le Temps, French journalist Christophe Ayad gave a slightly longer description: "Pas encore une révolution, mais plus qu’une révolte" (Not yet a revolution but more than a revolt.) That, too, seems a fair summary.

But note the "not yet" bit. What we are seeing now may not be a revolution in itself, but its precursor. Personally, I do think a revolution of sorts is coming and will be surprised if the Ben Ali regime is still in place two or three years hence – for the simple reason that it's incapable of adapting. The protesters' grievances cannot be addressed in any meaningful way while it remains in power, and the clear message from the Tunisian people is that they have had enough.

This may seem a difficult point for the world outside to grasp – especially the Americans. How do the events in Tunisia mesh with the "forward strategy of freedom" (militarised and heavily overlaid with international politics) that George Bush used to talk about? They don't – and that's their beauty.

Also, Tunisia isn't a case of Tsvangirai versus Mugabe, Yushchenko versus Yanukovych or Ouattara versus Gbagbo. Organised political parties are irrelevant here, as they are these days in most of the Arab world. Nor is there a charismatic figure that the media can easily latch on to, like Aung San Suu Kyi in Burma or Lech Walesa in the Polish shipyards. In that respect, Tunisia 2011 looks more like Paris 1968, with a random assortment of students and trade unionists in the vanguard plus – to bring it up right to date – a collection of Twitterers, Facebook users and tech-savvy cyber warriors.

Will it be suppressed like Paris 1968? Somehow, I doubt it. For one thing, the protests are more widespread and the grievances more deeply felt. Others are less sanguine about that. On the Arabist blog, Issandr El Amrani suggests Ben Ali is unlikely to be dislodged without a strong diplomatic push from the EU, and he quotes several articles that are considerably more sceptical than I am.

But let's turn now to another description. Writing in Foreign Policy, Marc Lynch talks of "Obama's Arab Spring" (with a carefully-placed question mark after it) and links the developments in Tunisia to others in Jordan, Kuwait and Egypt. (We might also include Algeria where there are reports of Tunisian-style disturbances too.)

Why Obama has to be brought into it, I haven't the faintest idea. The Tunisian protesters aren't doing it for Obama's sake and as far as I'm concerned the longer he keeps his nose out, the better. American support at this stage is more likely to hinder than help, though I wouldn't object to a final nudge from the White House when Ben Ali is on the brink of toppling.

But, setting Obama aside, consider the idea of an Arab Spring. The sentiments and long pent-up frustrations expressed by Tunisians during the last three weeks are shared, to a very large extent, by Arabs throughout the Middle East. They complain endlessly amongst themselves – and yet they feel there is little, if anything, they can do about it.

The Tunisian uprising is beginning to change that. It is giving Arabs a glimpse of possibilities that were unimaginable just a month ago. It is profoundly empowering and its psychological effects are not to be underestimated. It is the opposite of the gloom that settled over the Arab world from 1967 onwards and may prove to be no less important.

Could this mean that we are about to see the crumbling of Arab regimes, one after another, as happened in Eastern Europe? In the short term, probably not. But suppose – and this is by no means an implausible scenario – that as resistance in Tunisia continues the regime's support gradually ebbs away, until eventually Ben Ali's position becomes untenable. Elections follow and the country emerges as a sort of East European style democracy (or better, Latin American style): far from ideal, but something that can be built upon.

That would be significant for the whole region: regime change of the home-grown variety, not imposed from outside in the way that Iraq was, or from above to give an existing regime the appearance of legitimacy. It would be something unique in the Arab Middle East: democracy by popular demand.

But could it be replicated in other Arab countries? That is a more difficult question. To a greater or lesser degree, all the Arab regimes present similar problems: a lack of legitimacy, a lack of accountability and transparency, corruption, authoritarianism and elderly leaders (for the most part) governing a frustrated, youthful population.

Some of the regimes, though, are more resilient than others. While it's tempting to suggest that Egypt could be next – the Mubarak era is plainly coming to an end – the regime itself, unpopular though it is, does have an extensive patronage base that may be enough to keep it in power for some years yet. And the same could be said of several other countries.

The Tunisian regime, on the other hand, looks especially vulnerable because it has relied so heavily on fear and repression as mechanisms for control. Other Arab regimes do that too, but they also have more subtle and diverse weapons in their armoury. Once the fear barrier is broken in Tunisia though (as seems to be happening), there is little left to protect Ben Ali.

So, I don't expect Tunisia alone to bring down the entire Arab house of cards. What it will do is intensify the pressure for change that exists already in other countries and encourage people to look to themselves, rather than outside, for solutions. It will also help dispel the idea that the long-surviving regimes we see in place today are permanent fixtures. They are not, and one day they will be history.

Brian Whitaker, 7 Jan 2011

Mark.

13 years 5 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Mark. on January 7, 2011

Wave of arrests of bloggers and activists

Radio report including an interview with blogger Slim Ammamou who was arrested yesterday. Listen to the full interview here.

Pirate Party members facing political repression in Tunisia

Parti Pirate Tunisie - Pirate Party Tunisia
Press Release 
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
TUNIS, TUNISIA 2011.01.06 
 
The Pirate Party of Tunisia involved in breaking the Tunisian media blackout on the social unrest happening in many Tunisian cities from December 18th 2010 is facing harsh political and police repression from the undemocratic and corrupt government of Tunisia.
 
In the course of our last operations our members relayed videos and information on police killing young civilians, on suicide cases related to repression and poverty while riots are happening in the cities of Sidi Bouzid, Siliana and Thala. The Party is also distributing in tunisian universities and schools USB Keys and CD ROMS with installation of the TOR Software needed to circumvent the major wave of cyber censorship happening on the Tuninsian Internet and to protect tunisian Internet users from the hacking the tunisian cyber police is relying on to monitor Internet Users and prevent truth from being relayed online.
 
On Thursday 2011.01.06, 
 
Slah Eddin Kchouk aka Le Loup
Azyz Ammami aka Azyoz GM
Slim Ammamou aka Slim404
 
three members of the party, were kidnapped by the tunisian political police. No warrant was used. Nobody including their families is aware of where they are being detained as of now. Their computers have also been confiscated by the police. The three young tunisians hold university degrees and wouldn't be involved in illegal activities.
 
Tunisia is a country known for its undemocratic and corrupt political regime under the presidence of Zine ElAbidine Ben Ali these past 23 years. 
 
Tunisia is a country where torture while in detention or in prison is very common as reported and documented by Red Cross, Amnesty, HRW and other NGO's.
 
Pirate Party Tunisia severely condemns the dictatorship of Ben Ali and will engage every possible action to 
 
1. Free its members
2. Seek international legal course in case of torture and inhumane treatment on its members. 
 
In addition to our members, several other young tunisians were arrested on the same grounds the same day two of them are Hammadi Kaloucha a blogger and cyber activist and Hamada Ben Aoun a 22 year old singer and activist.
 
We're asking the international community for help to put pressure on the Tunisian Government to release our members.

Mark.

13 years 5 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Mark. on January 7, 2011

One question that's left unanswered in the reports I've seen this week is whether there have actually been strikes in workplaces.

There were reports of calls for general strikes on Monday and Thursday but I'm not sure what these amounted to and I get the impression, possibly wrongly, that the callouts came from students and lawyers respectively rather than workers themselves. There are various mentions of 'trade unionists in the vanguard', as Brian Whitaker puts it, but I'm not at all clear what this means in practice.

It's also possible that workers are less likely to be on the internet or using languages other than Arabic and that information about what's happening isn't getting through.

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Video: Students demonstrating in Klibia (~50 mi east of Tunis)

There are various videos of student protests being put online and this looks fairly typical. I think that what is happening is that they are being kept on the premises by lines of police. Just now on twitter there's a report that 'students have broken through the police barricades in Sfax'.

Steven.

13 years 5 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Steven. on January 7, 2011

Just to say thanks for all these updates, I have been reading them with interest as I'm sure others have been, unfortunately I don't really have any information of my own to add.

Just to echo that yes the involvement of workers will be key, but it does not seem clear what the level of involvement is at the moment. The photograph of the strike you posted above from Facebook is an old photo not from Tunisia, associated with one of the big international anti-globalisation demonstrations, though I cannot remember which. Maybe Prague…

Mark.

13 years 5 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Mark. on January 7, 2011

I had doubts about that photo after I'd posted it. It doesn't really look like north Africa.

Mark.

13 years 5 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Mark. on January 7, 2011

Syrians support Tunisian protests

Dozens of Syrians declared their support for the recent protests in Tunisia, by creating a group on Facebook, Syrians Support the Tunisian Intifada, which has to date acquired about 100 supporters.

The page contains the latest news about the protests, related videos and comments which back and encourage Tunisian people to go on with their protests.

One of the supporters wrote, “What happened in Tunisia is a matter of pride. The democratic street raises clear demands and communicates peacefully.”

Another wrote, “People in green Tunisia, go on in your revolution, we and the world are with you, and let the Intifada spread to all the capitals in the world who violate their peoples` rights.”

A third supporter said, “Those who call for rights, freedom and justice in the whole world, are partners. ”

Some other comments compared the Tunisian regime with that of Syria. “Bashar al-Asad and Zain al-Abidin Bi Ali are two ugly sides of the same coin,” said one.

Many others expressed their optimism about what is going on in Tunisia.”Thanks for Tunisian youth for giving us this hope of changing,” another commented...

.

Does anyone know if 'Intifada' has any specific Palestinian connotations or whether it's just a general word for an uprising?

Caiman del Barrio

13 years 5 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Caiman del Barrio on January 7, 2011

Football cancelled in Algeria:

Football stadiums are one of the only places where people in Algeria publicly voice their political frustrations, and matches are seen a potential catalyst for protests.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-12134307

Mark.

13 years 5 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Mark. on January 7, 2011

Recently on twitter - with emphasis that nothing is confirmed and rumours may be flying around...

'Army has been called into Seliana, Om l'ariass, Jbniana, Sidi Bouzid, Sousse, and Kasserine'

'from trusted source: head of army Rachid Ammar ordered officers not to participate in police repression of #sidibouzid'

'Gen. Rachid Ammar who is hypothetically siding with protesters was about to be sacked and replaced'

'Rachid Ammar was about 2 b replaced as Army chief of staff by Ahmed Chebir. May explain y he may b siding w/ protesters'

'police's leaving Tela bcoz they can't control the situation'

'riots between locals and security forces. from the journalist Ziad El Heni, shots with bullets'

Mark.

13 years 5 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Mark. on January 7, 2011

Les manifestations ont repris en Algérie après une matinée calme

La France dans l'embarras face aux troubles en Tunisie et Algérie

Tunisie-Sidi Bouzid: déclaration de l'UGTT en 10 points
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Recently on twitter

'demain une très grande manif à tunis l'appel était lancé par lunion régionale du travail, soyez nombreux au rdv svp'

'Sat 11 o'clock flashmob for release of Tunesian Pirates in front of Tunesian embassy, Lindenallee 16, Berlin'

'DAY 22 of Tunisian Uprising: internet and news sources say protests have spread to all Tunisian cities today'

'Until this moment the given order to the army is : “get ready to Intervene”'

'Breaking News: On Al Arabiya "US State Department summons Tunisian ambassador to Washington over #SidiBouzid protests" Finally they woke up'

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More on riots, protests in North Africa - long article with detailed analysis of Algeria

Tunisie, Algérie: la colère gronde - video report in French

mons

13 years 5 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by mons on January 7, 2011

I've just seen this thread, and it looks incredibly interesting. Is there any article which sums it up best, because I don't really want to trawl through all the links?

Mark.

13 years 5 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Mark. on January 7, 2011

mons - you could start by looking back at the articles I've posted in full at comments #8 and #37, the second one looking at the possible implications of what's happening. Things are moving too fast for one article to sum it up though.

Al Jazeera's timeline might be helpful too. I haven't seen anything in English yet that's written from an explicitly libertarian perspective.

Edit: I've already posted this link but it's a reasonable overview of the protests with an emphasis on the censorship/internet angle: What's happening in Tunisia?

joselito

13 years 5 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by joselito on January 7, 2011

Does anyone know if 'Intifada' has any specific Palestinian connotations or whether it's just a general word for an uprising?

It means uprising or rebellion, from a verb that means to shake. It is used now throughout the arab world from what I've observed.

Cheers for the updates

Mark.

13 years 5 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Mark. on January 7, 2011

UGTT statement

Statement of the National Administrative Commission of the Tunisian General Union of Labor

The members of the National Administrative Commission met on Tuesday, 4th January 2011 under the chairmanship of comrade Abdessalem Jerad, the General Secretary of the Tunisian General Labor Union. The meeting took place following the analysis of the painful events witnessed by Sidi Bouzid, Kasserine and other regions. These events were characterized by spontaneous movements initially demanding the right to work. Believing in the national and social role of the Tunisian General Labor Union and in order to contribute in the development of better prospects the members of the National administrative Commission:

1. Confirm the contents of the trade unionist statements as well as the statement issued by the Executive Bureau of the Union, which include concepts and principles about the pillars of sustainable development stated in the regulations of the concerned authorities centrally, regionally and sectorally, which evolved through studies and seminars on employment and labor relationships. They also call for a development pattern that takes into account the basic needs, which is based on justice and balance between the regions, and in which the State and the public sector perform the task of investing. This is mainly due to the fact that the private sector has not reached the required level of investment in the areas of priority, despite the fiscal, financial and social privileges that it enjoys.

2. Express their solidarity with the people of Sidi Bouzid and other internal regions in their legitimate aspirations towards a better reality and towards a pattern of development that ensures justice and equality, and guarantees the right to decent work and to job opportunities that provide a minimum income enabling people to meet the increase of prices. They also call for an urgent intervention in order to repair the clear damages that touched the inhabitants of Sidi Bouzid.

3. Emphasize the need to give the representatives of the Tunisian General Labor Union a permanent membership in the regional boards of employment and in the local employment committees. They also renew the demand of creating an unemployment fund to protect the dismissed workers and provide them with an income that enables them to meet their basic needs when they lose their jobs due to the economic changes, especially the policy of privatizing the public institutions.

4. Register with dismay the action of surrounding the regional and local trade unions in an attempt to block the last peaceful trade unionist movements. This led to practices of violence targeting a number of trade unionists, both locally and regionally.

5. Call for the release of the remaining detainees, ending their prosecution and removing all forms of security blockade in Sidi Bouzid and in the other regions. The members of the administrative commission also call for the adoption of dialogue as an essential mechanism to address all the kinds of reactions.

6. Express their solidarity with the families of the innocent victims and ask for a follow-up of those found guilty in hurting innocent victims.

7. Express their support for the lawyers and all the institutions of civil society in their support for our people in Sidi Bouzid during the spontaneous movements aiming to improve the reality of living in the region, to ensure social projects and to guarantee them a dignified life.

8. Express their resentment for the absence of the national media in the recent events and for the deliberate lack of coverage of the developments in response to the aspiration of the Tunisian citizen to know what is happening in his country. This led to a media vacuum which strikingly calls for a comprehensive review of the reality of the media. They also stress the importance of promoting the media and improving the ways of dealing with events in order to develop its performance and make it capable of dealing with the substantive economic, social and political issues and of adopting courage, transparency and clarity in the disclosure of some aspects of misconduct and the practices that are inconsistent with the values of justice, freedom and equality and which may affect the substance of the laws of civil and human rights as well as the institutions of civil society.

9. Call for political reforms in order to deepen democracy and promote freedom, and to activate the role of the Tunisian League for Human Rights as an important national gain because of its role in the actual consecration of the State of law and institutions. They also affirm the need to enable the Tunisian League for Human Rights to hold its congress respecting the independence of its decision.

10. Consider that negotiation is a legitimate international and domestic right and that going on strike is the essence of the right of freedom of association. They call the authorities to negotiate seriously with the labor union of education and the unions of the other sectors and to respond to their demands which were issued by their administrative commissions in order to contribute to the establishment of a social climate characterized by stability and which emphasizes the importance of dialogue in reducing the possible social problems. The members of the national administrative commission also renew their demand of reintegrating the dismissed workers of the mining basin in their previous jobs in order to put an end to a situation representing one of the factors contributing to a tense social climate.

Long live the Tunisian General Labor Union, free, democratic and independent fighter.

Tunis, January 04, 2011
The General Secretary Abdessalem Jerad

Mark.

13 years 5 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Mark. on January 8, 2011

Reading that it all sounds very reformist, which doesn't necessarily mean there's a reformist solution, at least without the end of the dictatorship.

According to twitter they've called for a mass demonstration in Tunis tomorrow.

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Abdel Whab Amri of the OTDLS

The UGTT was the first union created in North Africa. It played a heroic part in the struggle against colonialism and the strikes in the 70s and 80s. It is a union with a history of struggle and dignity, but today it is a part of the apparatus of power that manages multiple businesses (hotels, insurance, supermarkets…) where any dissidence is immediately crushed. Its leadership submits to power, even supporting the reelection of the president in the elections in October [2008?]. It is a bureaucratic organisation which has betrayed its own militants in the struggle of the mining basin at Gafsa, going to the extreme of agreeing that no union of the UGTT can call a strike without the permission of the executive committee.

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Edited to correct the attribution of the above quote which is a translation of part of an article in Spanish posted above. It was published by the CGT but written by a member of the OTDLS (Tunisian observatory for trade union rights and freedoms).

Mark.

13 years 5 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Mark. on January 7, 2011

Al Jazeera: Tunisia arrests bloggers and rapper

Guardian: Algerian riots resume over food prices

Al Jazeera: Algeria police on guard after riots

Salima Ghezali, a leading Algerian journalist and human rights activist, told Al Jazeera in a phone interview that the outbreak of protests is "both very local and very global".

Algerians have followed protests over economic dissatisfaction not only in neighbouring Tunisia, but also in Europe.

At the same time, she said the rioting is a consequence of years of economic and political mismanagement. 

Although hardly a week goes by without geographically-specific protests over particular incidents, she said that the nationwide movement that has sprung up this week is very different.

[…]

Jeremy Keenan, a social anthropologist said that the social revolt is an uprising, rather than a protest movement.

"The word that I'm hearing on the streets of Algiers isn't protest, it's Intifada," he told Al Jazeera.

There has been a "massive show of repression" by the state, he said, citing the police reinforcements.

He noted that the authorities appeared to be taking care to avoid killing any protesters, "probably because they're scared".

Reuters: Algeria beefs up security amid fresh protest

The El Khabar newspaper, citing local sources, said in its online edition that one young man had been killed in clashes on Friday in the city of Msila, about 250 km (155 miles) southeast of the capital. If confirmed, it would be the first fatality.

There was no official comment on the report, and no details on how the man was killed.

The official APS news agency said protesters ransacked government buildings, bank branches and post offices in "several eastern cities" overnight, including Constantine, Jijel, Setif and Bouira.

Mark.

13 years 5 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Mark. on January 8, 2011

Recently on twitter

'Heavy clashes in the city of Kasserine, police use tear gas and cut power to curb protests, but are unable to do so'

'Protests intensifying and spreading in Kasserine, police use tear gas and rubber bullets but are losing the battle'

'Five demonstrators were injured by bullets in clashes with police near Sidi Bu Zayd'

'Rassemblement contre la répression en Tunisie . 8 janvier·14:00-16:00.7, esplanade Henri de France, 75015 Paris'

Mark.

13 years 5 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Mark. on January 8, 2011

Recently on twitter

TV7 national tunisian tv website hacked! Free Slim amamou page instead!

For the 6th day in a row. strikes and marches continue in Jebeniana in #Tunisia. esp around Jan. 18th college. Police surrounding area

A violent clash between protests and police forces in Ksar Hellal(Monastir Gov) and the protests attacked the police station

Tajerouine - Police raids neighborhood and suceeds in arresting civilians while others ran into the mountains to hide

L utlisation de l armee contre son propre peuple .. le regime mafieu joue ses derniers cartes

Greve géneral pour lundi10,mardi 11Janvier de toutes les facultés et lycées à travers la Tunisie ,journée noir pr ammar. RT SVP

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Video: Military convoy heading into Thala

Army on the streets in Kasserine: photo 1 --- photo 2

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Tunisia: the US speaks (Brian Whitaker's blog)

Mark.

13 years 5 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Mark. on January 8, 2011

Euronews videos

Anger in Algeria sparks fresh riots

Appeals via internet over Tunisian detainees

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Tampa radio WMNF interview with Tunisian blogger

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Recently on twitter

Sousse Faculty of Arts under a hail of tear gas

A woman attempts to suicide in #Kassrine this morning. Demonstrations in the state. Demonstrators attack gov offices.

An old man – more then 60 y- died today after been beaten by the police forces in El Kef

@BBCKimGhattas Uprising in #Tunisia is escalating. Army deployed in south, other cities joined riots. Any plans to cover?

Heavy rioting in southern Tunisia causes fires: http://goo.gl/Tb54G | http://goo.gl/h7pJC | http://goo.gl/FhprJ #OpTunisia #SidiBouzid

More pro-#SidiBouzid defacements seem to be coming from #Tunisian #hackers and not original #Anonymous deface teams. #AnonOps #Anon

#Tunisian insurance assoc website defaced with pro-#SidiBouzid msg http://goo.gl/kxz72 http://i.imgur.com/QXPzq.png #Deface

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TuniLeaks

Mark.

13 years 5 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Mark. on January 8, 2011

Movilizaciones en distintos países en solidaridad con el pueblo tunecino

El día 6 de enero se ha realizado la jornada de solidaridad internacional con el pueblo tunecino, celebrándose manifestaciones y concentraciones en diferentes países.

Tanto en Marruecos, como en Argelia y Mauritania se han emitido distintos comunicados de solidaridad. En Argel, el SNAPAP ha celebrado un encuentro sindical de solidaridad y una delegación ha entregado un escrito de protesta en la embajada de Túnez en Argel. En Bruselas (Bélgica), Ginebra (Suiza), Montreal y Québec (Canadá), Berlín (Alemania), Londres (Gran Bretaña)Beirut (Líbano) y Nápoles (Italia) se han celebrado concentraciones, generalmente frente a los consulados tunecinos.

En Francia, donde se concentra la mayoría de la emigración tunecina en Europa se han celebrado concentraciones en numerosas ciudades (Lille, Lyon, Marsella, Nantes, París, Montpellier, Estrasburgo, Toulouse…).

Demo at the Tunisian consulate in Montreal

[youtube]KDMnJd2-epA[/youtube]

Mark.

13 years 5 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Mark. on January 8, 2011

UGTT demo in Tunis

Tunisia's main union on Saturday condemned authorities for their heavy-handed response to a wave of social unrest, during a gathering in the capital which took place under tight security.

Surrounded by riot police, several hundred members of the Tunisian General Union of Labour, which rights groups accuse of being too close to the government, observed a minute's silence for at least five people who have died since protests began last month.

Protests sparked by high youth unemployment have spread from the central town of Sidi Bouzid to other parts chiefly in the north African country's interior, which lags behind the prosperous coastal areas.

"We support the demands of the people in Sidi Bouzid and interior regions. The UGTT cannot but be with this region, behind those in need and demanding jobs," said the union's deputy general secretary, Abid Brigui.

"It is against nature to condemn this movement, it is not normal to respond with bullets," Brigui said, urging the government to hold a dialogue with disaffected young people.

The union released a declaration demanding the release of all those in detention and the lifting of security measures that have seen some of the worst-hit towns blockaded.

"The UGTT is making a great about-turn today by joining the aspirations of the people and supporting their socio-economic and political demands," opposition economist Mahmoud Ben Romdhane told AFP...

Sihem Bensedrine on the development of the protests

After Sidi Bouzid, the unrest spread to all the neighbouring municipalities – Menzel Bouzaiane, Mezzouna, Miknassi – with demonstrators shouting the same slogans against corruption and the tyranny of power.

The authorities reacted by going on the offensive and implementing a security clampdown. Ben Ali promised "to apply the full force of the law", and gave the order to fire on the angry crowds. Three young people were killed and hundreds more injured. Many of them could not be evacuated to the hospitals because the police had formed a cordon around the cities and were not allowing any traffic to pass. Hundreds of young people were arrested, and a curfew was imposed.

Over the next two weeks, solidarity movements were formed in every city in the country (Jendouba, Le Kef, Feriana, Kairouan, Kasserine, Gafsa, Djerba, Sfax, Monastir, Sousse, Tunis). There were repeated confrontations with the security forces, who suppressed peaceful demonstrations with violence.

Journalists were prevented from covering the events. Those who attempted to do their job were violently attacked or arrested.

The worst to date, however, was the assault on the lawyers. On 31 December, all Tunisia's lawyers had been called upon by the independent national bar association to wear a red armband as a sign of solidarity. However, starting at dawn, the police besieged all the courts in the country and prevented the lawyers from entering their place of work. Many lawyers were attacked and injured in the process, or had their robes torn, notably in the courts of Gafsa, Jendouba, Mahdia, Djerba, Monastir, Sousse and Sfax. A very large number were injured in Tunis in particular.

The national bar association called for a strike on 6 January in response to this police aggression, which in some cases took place within the confines of the courts themselves. The trade union federation in Sidi Bouzid has also announced a general strike on 12 January.

Fearing a reaction from students and high school pupils, the police also used "preventative" violence against schoolchildren, who went back to school on 3 January. This provoked confrontations in many towns including Ben Guerdan, Kasserine, Gabes, Gafsa, Chebba, and Thala, where they set fire to the governing party building...

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From the above it looks as if the Tunis demo ('several hundred members of the Tunisian General Union of Labour, which rights groups accuse of being too close to the government') was actually quite small considering the scale of the unrest.

The second article says that 'the trade union federation in Sidi Bouzid has announced a general strike on 12 January', and I'm wondering if this is the first strike call to actually come from the unions.

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Edited to add video of UGTT demo and flashmob video

Mark.

13 years 5 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Mark. on January 8, 2011

Al Jazeera - Algeria unrest turns deadly

Three people have been killed and hundreds injured in continuing protests in Algeria, as the government meets to discuss ways of halting the rising food costs and unemployment that have sparked the unrest.

At least 300 of the 400 people injured in the riots were police officers, Dahou Oul Kablia, Algeria's interior minister, said on national radio on Saturday.

One of the three people killed was named as 18-year-old Azzedine Lebza. He was shot dead in Ain Lahdjel in the M'Sila region, 300km from Algiers, the capital.



"He died in an attempt to break into a police station," Kablia said.

A second demonstrator was killed on Friday in Bou Smail, a small town 50km west of Algiers, he said.

"He was picked up in the street, wounded. A pathologist said he had died from wounds to the head, but the cause of death has not yet been established."

A medical official said earlier that the man, identified in media reports as 32-year-old Akriche Abdelfattah, had been hit in the face by a tear gas canister.

The third body was found in a hotel burned down by rioters, the interior minister said.

[…]

Algiers, which has seen protests in recent days, was calmer on Saturday, but witnesses reported fresh protests in the Kabylie region.

[…]

Mohamed Zitout, a former Algerian diplomat, told Al Jazeera: "It is a revolt, and probably a revolution, of an oppressed people who have, for 50 years, been waiting for housing, employment, and a proper and decent life in a very rich country.

"But unfortunately it is ruled by a very rich elite that does not care about what is happening in the country - because they did not give people what they want, even though the government has the means to do so, the people are now revolting."

Young people clashed with police in Algiers and several other towns across the country on Friday despite appeals for calm from imams.

In Annaba, 600km west of the capital, rioting broke out after Friday prayers in a poor neighbourhood of the city and continued late into the night. A local government office was ransacked, according to witnesses.

Protesters also cut down electricity poles during the night, cutting off power to the working class suburb of Auzas.

In Tizi Ouzou, the capital of the eastern Kabylie region, residents said rioting had spread from the city centre to the outskirts, and demonstrators burning tyres blocked the main road to Algiers.

Mark.

13 years 5 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Mark. on January 8, 2011

Mark.

13 years 5 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Mark. on January 9, 2011

Angry Maghreb: day 23 in Tunisia (Egyptian Chronicles blog)

I notice that in Facebook people are demanding that the protesters should have one single demand which is to topple the current corrupted regime.

Tunisia: The uprising has a hashtag

Minutes after Ben Ali and his ringing phone addressed the nation, Weddady had shared on Twitter a link to a video of the speech that someone had already uploaded to YouTube.

It quickly provided some much-needed levity with tweets flowing in from around the Middle East taking a guess at who could’ve been calling Ben Ali. Stevie Wonder to say “I love you?” joked one tweet.

I imagined President Hosni Mubarak of Egypt, who has ruled my country of birth for the past 29 years, calling to tell Ben Ali to shut up before he made it even worse for the rest of the totalitarian old men in power.

When activists in Cairo protested in solidarity with Tunisians, they made that connection: “Revolution till victory. Revolution in Tunisia. Revolution in Egypt,” they chanted (and then told the rest of us via Twitter).

How could they not make the connection? Corruption, nepotism and unemployment taunt them in both countries. Activists in Jordan and Lebanon also held solidarity protests.

And that’s why Tunisia counts.

Recently on twitter

Now the army and the police are using the live bullets to stop protests in Kassrin

Talah : The police forces are shooting in the air to stop the protests

a young man killed in Telah at 21:30

New clashes between police and protesters in Meknessi and #SidiBouzid

Now,a clash between police and citizens in Meknassi, and the locally says that the police are using a new stronger tear gas

Breaking news from #sidibouzid: 2 killed as live rounds used in Tala, 8 others in critical condition

Thala, Kasserine Tunisia: 90 year-old Bechir Lembarek Hayuni dies after inhaling police gas

Thala, Kasserine tunisia : Two young men shot dead by police dring protests; Ahmad Ben Ammar Boulabi and Marwan Gennawi

From Kasserine (~50 mi west of #SidiBouzid): one thirteen-year-old has been shot, along with two men. A massive march has erupted

Kasserine - Tunisia: angry protesters get to the streets after police killed at least 3 citizens in the same town

Live bullets against protesters killed a 13 years old boy & the army is deployed in Kasserien city in #Tunisia

They were killed by the police. The army is there only to watch public buildings and prevent foreign interventions

Unconfirmed: Up to seven ppl may have beeen killed when policed open fired on protestors in Kasserine

Nobody really knows how many were killed and injured tonight in Kasserine

Few minutes ago in Meknassy , A new young man shot dead with a live bullets

l'armée et surtout la police empêchent les ambulances de venir au secour des habitant Blessés (transport par les habitants)

à thala ont me dit une 12 personne blessés par balle , rabi yoster , wallah 9aher. ..vraiment très mal au coeur ce soir

Attention le Bilan est vraiment provisoir , il y a bcp bcp de Blessés rien à Kaserine 17 blessés par Balle

une catastrophe , putain de merde je recoi des info et j'ai vraiment le coeur gros ,à thala il y a au moins 5 mort et kaserine4

Sont morts a kassrin cette nuit: Mounir Lembarki, Rauf Alboside, Alarbi Saleh, Mohammad Osode (liste partielle)

N'ayons pas peur des mots. Ce qui se passe cette nuit en Tunisie est du terrorisme d'État pur et simple

Video from Kasserine

Mark.

13 years 5 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Mark. on January 9, 2011

Tunisian police kill protestors

The Tunisian regime has responded to American calls for restraint ... with live bullets. A number of protesters were shot dead last night – possibly 10 or more.

Most reports attribute the shootings to the police, though the army has now been deployed some areas – allegedly to protect government buildings.

The increasing use of live ammunition may be a measure of the Ben Ali regime's desperation at its inability to control the disturbances sweeping the country.

Al-Jazeera reports that in Thala (Kasserine province, near the Algerian border), four people were killed when police opened fire after first using water cannons to try to disperse a crowd throwing stones and petrol bombs. A government building had been set on fire.

The nawaat website shows some gruesome scenes from last night's events in Thala, including the picture above.

There was also trouble yesterday in the city of Kasserine. Reports on the internet named four people as having been killed there: Mounir Mbarki, Raouf Bouzidi, Saleh Fridhi and Mohamed Asswadi. According to AFP, a 12-year-old child died in Kasserine when shot in the head.

In Meknassy (Sidi Bouzid province), two people – Chihab Alibi and Youssef Fitouri – were shot dead, according to a note posted on Twitter.

Tunisia's main trade union, the UGTT (which is normally regarded as close to the government) now appears to have swung its weight behind the protesters.

Surrounded by riot police, several hundred of its members observed a minute's silence in the capital yesterday. In remarks quoted by AFP, the union's deputy general secretary, Abid Brigui, said:

"We support the demands of the people in Sidi Bouzid and interior regions ... The UGTT cannot but be with this region, behind those in need and demanding jobs.

"It is against nature to condemn this movement, it is not normal to respond with bullets."

AFP quotes an opposition economist as saying that by doing this the UGTT is "making a great about-turn".

Brian Whitaker, 9 Jan 2011

Mark.

13 years 5 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Mark. on January 9, 2011

This is serious

We now have the unprecedented situation of major civil disturbances in two neighbouring Arab countries, both of them arising for similar reasons. (For the latest developments, see below.)

On its own, the trouble in Algeria might not be a particular cause for concern (or celebration, depending on how you look at it). Algeria, after all, has witnessed plenty of violent strife in the past and I wouldn't yet go so far as to characterise the events there (unlike those in Tunisia) as a popular uprising against the regime.

But with large-scale riots and demonstrations now happening simultaneously in two countries side by side, we are moving into uncharted territory. There are signs that the protests in both countries are starting to inspire and sustain those in the other – which could make them far more difficult for the authorities to quell.

It's all looking much more serious than a week ago. Anything could happen now. And maybe it will.

Brian Whitaker, 9 Jan 2011

Mark.

13 years 5 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Mark. on January 9, 2011

Al Jazeera: protesters killed in Tunisia riots

At least twenty people have been killed in clashes with police in two cities in Tunisia.

Six people were killed and another six wounded in the city of Tala, 200km southwest of the capital Tunis, on Saturday, after security forces opened fire on protestors.

Another 14 people were killed in similar clashes in the Kasserine region, union sources told Al Jazeera...

Map of the protests

Mark.

13 years 5 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Mark. on January 9, 2011

Recently on twitter

Tunisia7 (official TV) : 2 dead and 8 injured last night in Talah

Talah : After using the tear gas, the police attacked the funeral with live bullets

Shots, used in Talah http://fb.me/RjFBwL1O

The police (snipers) use the steyr AUG (Effective range Sighted for 300 m-450-500m-)to shot the demonstrators

According to a source in Kassrin’s hospital, 20 men were killed

Most pictures [of dead & wounded] show that the police shot to kill: torsos & heads

Medical doctors now protesting in #Kasserine...

Moncef Marzouki to senior Tunisian army officers: History will judge. Do not execute Ben Ali's orders

Moncef Marzouki: responsability of killings lies primarily on senior officials in Tunisian army

Maniftunis, rassemblement dans 1 heure Avenue HAbib Bourghiba à 14h - Tunis

Pantin : le consulat de Tunisie victime d'une «petite explosion» http://tinyurl.com/2b9s8mf

manif déclaré a cité el khadra, cité ezohour, ariana,mornag, la marsa, ben arous, bizerte

Manel Bouallagui, a wife and a mother, was shot dead in front of her home in the village of Rgueb in #Sidibouzid

Video from inside hospital of the dead and dying, presumably Kasserine
http://goo.gl/Crckz ***warning: unedited and graphic footage***

Eyewitnesses in Kasserine report that the police has been preventing ambulances from reaching the injured

Eyewitness confirms to Radio Kalimah that a number of dead bodies were thrown in waterways by police froces in Kasserine

Eyewitness says at least seven victims were thrown by police in waterways in Kasserine

Witnesses confirm that the Army is not involved in any of the killings that have been taking place since protests started

Raouf Kadoussi, dead. Chaher Abidi and Naseem Jallai seriously injured after being shot by police in Rgueb village in #Sidibouzid

The police attacked the protesters with live bullets in Selyana and Jebeniana

Mark.

13 years 5 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Mark. on January 9, 2011

I just checked the Guardian site to see what they had to say about the killings. The last mention of Tunisia was the islamist comment is free piece on Tuesday.

And the bbc...

At least two person have been killed in fresh unrest over unemployment in Tunisia, officials say...

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Tunisia latest

1300 GMT: Opposition leader and activist Moncef Marzouki has posted a video message, on Facebook, to senior officials in army. He said that they carried the burden for recent violence and they have a responsibility to protect the people, not the regime.

Marzouki, asking the military not to carry out President Ben Ali's orders, said, "History will judge you."...

Steven.

13 years 5 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Steven. on January 9, 2011

holy shit…

Thanks for the continued updates however

Auto

13 years 5 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Auto on January 9, 2011

I can't believe this isn't being reported in the mainstream media. I mean, it sounds like things are getting pretty heavy over there, but all I've seen of it is one brief article in the Guardian.

I second Steve, thanks for the updates, Mark.

Mark.

13 years 5 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Mark. on January 9, 2011

Claims for the death toll in Kasserine alone are now running at between 26 and 40. As you say it's hard to believe this isn't being reported.

The battle of Kasserine 2011 (Egyptian Chronicles blog)

Kasserine , Tunisia is known internationally thanks to the battle of Kasserine in 1943 but in perfect world it should be all over the news now before the news of South Sudan referendum after what happened last night in the governorate and its cities !!

The battle of Kasserine 2011 , this is the best headline to describe what happened exactly last night , it was a battle from one side , the side of the security forces that open its fire against the angry civilians in one of the darkest moments in the history of Tunisia...

La Tunisie à feu et à sang, 40 morts

Officiellement on parle d’une dizaine de morts depuis samedi à Thala et Kasserine, mais duc côté des manifestants le bilan est beaucoup plus lourds, on y avance 40 morts et des centaines de blessés, des chiffres difficilement vérifiables pour l’instant...

Auto

13 years 5 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Auto on January 9, 2011

I don't understand why it isn't being reported though - civil unrest in other countries normally gets at least a passing mention.

Part of me wonders if it's the whole 'food prices/economy angle' - but then they reported the Haiti food riots a few years back.

ajjohnstone

13 years 5 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by ajjohnstone on January 9, 2011

And meanwhile in Algeria at least four people were reported killed and more than 800 injured. Around 1,000 protestors had been arrested.

Mohamed Zitout, a former Algerian diplomat, - "It is a revolt, and probably a revolution, of an oppressed people who have, for 50 years, been waiting for housing, employment, and a proper and decent life in a very rich country. "But unfortunately it is ruled by a very rich elite that does not care about what is happening in the country - because they did not give people what they want, even though the government has the means to do so, the people are now revolting."

Mohamed Ben Madani, editor of The Maghreb Review, said the situation was "out of control" and that the protests could continue for weeks. "The government simply ignored the people since they were elected to office and basically now they [the people] have come out into the streets asking the authorities to give them jobs and to share the wealth of the nation,"

Layachi Ansar, professor of sociology at Qatar University - that the cutting of food taxes and duties was "a superficial measure" that doesn't address "the deep crisis" going on in Algeria, connected with the "unequal distribution of wealth - this wealth is spoilt by corruption, by bad governance and lack of accountability of government officials and state civil servants".

Dalila Hanache, an Algerian journalist with the news website Echorouk, said that the protests went beyond just rising prices. "I hear young people in the neighbourhood who say these clashes and protests are not the result of high food prices only, they think there are lots of problems in this country - educational, problems in the health sectors, in all sectors of government,"

http://english.aljazeera.net/news/africa/2011/01/20111820132025240.html

Mark.

13 years 5 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Mark. on January 9, 2011

Auto - I was watching the news on bbc earlier on and I was really expecting to see it reported. It's not just the deaths it's the potential implications for the whole Arab world.

According to Brian Whitaker in his Guardian comment is free piece on 30 December, "The biggest story from the Middle East this week … No, the biggest, most important and most inspiring story from the Middle East this year is one that most readers may only vaguely have heard of, if at all. It's the Tunisian uprising."

I'm not any kind of expert on North Africa or the Middle East but this judgement sounds realistic to me. That was before protests spread to the whole country and beyond its borders.

Looking for that quote I found that the Guardian put up an AP report a couple of hours ago, quoting interior ministry figures of eight dead in Thala and Kasserine. So the story is being covered after a fashion but not in a way that might bring some pressure to stop the killing. I don't really have an explanation for the lack of interest from the media here.

I haven't heard of any foreign reporters operating within Tunisia though. I saw something about, I think, Le Monde trying to send someone to Tunis and being refused. English language journalists covering the 'Middle East' are more likely to be based somewhere like Cairo or Beirut that isn't so much closer to Tunisia than London is. Al Jazeera have also been barred from the country but they're managing to report the uprising quite well.

Tunisia's press blackout

[youtube]l-WiBIBybKU[/youtube]

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Plus de 50 morts à Kasserine, Thala, Feriana, Regueb, Meknassi

Activist crackdown: Tunisia vs Iran

Finally, to the American media, I offer the following reminder: You don't work for the government. This is not Iran, nor China, nor Tunisia; we have a thriving free press that has the liberty to pursue and cover whatever story it deems important. Just like Iranians did in 2009, Tunisians are taking to the streets to protest a brutal dictatorship, but unlike in the summer of 2009, the American media is largely silent.

Mark.

13 years 5 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Mark. on January 10, 2011

Recently on twitter

Today protest in the city of Sfax #sidibouzid التجمع الجماهيري اليوم بصفاقس http://post.ly/1SThc

Riots are moving to the north (El Kef)

Message received in Kef Tunisia : City hall, Post office, Department stores, court house ALL ON FIRE. Fuck Ben Ali & his mafia

urgent ; 2 premiers martyr à kef mais le bilan peu être aussi lourd qu'à kaserine , j'attends des infos

Report: Clashes continuing between security forces and protesters in Sidi Bouzid

Confirmed information: A new young man attempts suicide(immolation) in Meknassy

The police opened fire on the protesters in the Meknassy and there are some injuries

There are some injured cops in Meknassy

Some protesters were killed after been shot by the police in Meknassy

A young mother of two,Manel Boallagui 26, s among the 5 dead in Erregueb as confirmed by eye witness

5 killed by police shots in Tunisian city of Regueb, according to @benmhennilina #SidiBouzid

2day I saw 5 dead killed by police bullets, I 'm not afraid 2 say ths system is criminal

The little stable "moderate" arab Tunisia is moving http://bbc.in/ht3DvL

Tunisia frees rapper critical of government | News by Country | Reuters http://goo.gl/b4sk1

A Thala les militaires demandent à la police de cesser de tirer sur le peuple (témoin sur place)

Breaking: Ben Ali sacked army chief of staff General Rashid Amar and replaced him with military intel dir. Gen Ahmed Shabbir

Meanwhile in Tunis: http://is.gd/ks675

articles in English: http://bit.ly/h58Pyk

Tunisian friends: is there any call to tourists to stop vacationing in #Tunisia? Would you support such a call?

No, because the eventual victims are the Tunisian people. Sanction has never worked with dictators

Appel a la police: ne tirez pas sur vos freres “@evildrako: chanson d'actualités de Psycho M http://on.fb.me/gSH51R

Le visage hideux de la bourgeoisie en temps de crise par Mohamed BELAALI: http://bit.ly/e0frRA

Erregueb January 9th, 2011: Tonight , I went to Regueb after hearing about clashes between demonstrato... http://bit.ly/ghjS9S

La police Tunisie nne cible la jeunesse engagée dans la scène artistique, médiatique http://bit.ly/fpU9C3

For fear of either consequences or embarrassments, #Morocco bans solidarity demos with #SidiBouzid http://www.doualia.com/

Many Impressiv Tunisian Anonymous Pics http://bit.ly/ec8UDv from Tunisia

nawaat's polls are here http://www.nawaat.org/portail/pollsarchive/

Samotnaf

13 years 5 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Samotnaf on January 10, 2011

It is being reported on the TV news here in France , but relatively low on the list of reports, and they don't mention the higher figures for the death toll. Still, it's certainly not a blackout (Tunisia got about 3 minutes the other day) - and Algeria is being mentioned as well. I'd guess the lack of reporting in a time where things are beginning to happen in the UK and elsewhere is because, although they can be placed as a response to a dictatorship and to incredibly high food price rises, which are not things that make for any direct identification in the vast majority in Europe (yet), they don't want it to be seen that lots of different movements worldwide are starting up. Plus it kind of undermines Islam as the bogeyman v. rebel identity that helps the divide and rule. Plus there are, obviously, a lot of capitalist interests in maintaining social peace (capitalist war is another thing) in the Middle East, and the possibility of the spread of class war in that region is not something they want to give too much publicity to. Still, they'll almost certainly have to give these developments more publicity if only to ty to portray them within their ideological categories and to try to offer the carrot of reform.
All this is off the top of my head - and I'm no expert in the region at all. But I think if winter begins like this, we can look forward to an even more explosive spring - and not just in North Africa.

joselito

13 years 5 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by joselito on January 10, 2011

Perhaps these struggles, Tunis and Algeria, Morocco and Egypt, showing no presence whatsoever of islamicist groups points to a long overdue change in the terrain of class war in the muslim world.

Samotnaf

13 years 5 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Samotnaf on January 10, 2011

The struggles in Algeria in the 1990s and this century also showed no presence of Islamicist groups (except as very brutal counter-revolutionary forces) - but this time struggle's happening on several different fronts (maybe even Gaza?). I guess the main problem, as always, is the chasm between the unemployed and the employed working class - but I'd guess - in Tunisia at least - this is breaking down.

Submitted by Mark. on January 10, 2011

joselito

Perhaps these struggles, Tunis and Algeria, Morocco and Egypt, showing no presence whatsoever of islamicist groups points to a long overdue change in the terrain of class war in the muslim world.

Maybe there's a general secularist feeling around. See the CEMB forum for example. They have a thread on the Tunisia uprising too.

Mark.

13 years 5 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Mark. on January 10, 2011

Mis-reporting Tunisia

The Tunisian uprising is beginning to get more coverage in the English-language media, so this may be a suitable moment to look at the sort of coverage it is getting.

Considering the horrific violence meted out by the police over the weekend, the Ben Ali regime is being given an extraordinarily easy ride.

The Chicago Tribune, along with numerous other papers, carries a report from the Associated Press which refers to "rioting to protest joblessness and other social ills".

Apart from a reference to "mobs" attacking an office of the ruling party, there is no indication that this "unrest" (as AP puts it) might have a wider political context beyond "unemployment and social ills" – not even a single line about the repressive nature of the Ben Ali regime.

From the report, you would also imagine there is nothing but rioting – no mention of the very many peaceful protests (or the authorities' way of dealing with them).

Meanwhile, the New York Times uses a Reuters report which talks of a "wave of unrest":

Protesters say they are angry about a lack of jobs, but officials say the rioting is the work of a minority of violent extremists intent on damaging Tunisia.

Once again, there is no real context about the nature of the Tunisian regime. After quoting the call from Nejib Chabbi, the opposition politician, "to spare the lives of innocent citizens and to respect their right to protest peacefully", Reuters goes to some lengths to explain the regime's position:

Officials said the police had fired only in self-defense when violent crowds attacked, ignoring warning shots. The government said in a statement that the police were "doing nothing more than carrying out their legal and legitimate mission to maintain order and guarantee the safety and liberty of citizens".

It continues:

"President Ben Ali has said the violent protests are unacceptable and could discourage investors and tourists, who provide a large part of the country’s revenues. The authorities say they had responded to the protesters’ grievances by starting a program with employers to provide jobs for 50,000 unemployed graduates.

"Tunisia has recorded strong economic growth in the past decade, but it has not been fast enough to satisfy demand for jobs. Unemployment is particularly acute among the young in the interior of the country."

In one report, the BBC talks about "protests over rising food prices and unemployment in Tunisia" and adds: "The government says those responsible are extremists intent on destabilising the country."

However, another BBC report notes:

"Demonstrations are rare in Tunisia, where there are tight controls aimed at preventing dissent. The unrest has been linked to frustrations with the president and the ruling elite."

The Independent newspaper in Britain, also using an AP report, says:

"The protests against unemployment and lack of investment have lasted nearly a month. The authorities say the rioting is the work of a minority of extremists. President Ben Ali has said the protests are unacceptable."

Brian Whitaker, 10 Jan 2011

Talking of mis-reporting here's a BBC video on the uprising.

Submitted by Mark. on January 10, 2011

Recently on twitter

Now: Big manifestation in #Kasserine (cite El-Zouhour)...

Breaking News - Five dead people shot by the police were discovered this morning in Talah

in #Sfax, police forces using bullets to stop a demonstration (location "route de l'aeroport")

The 2 cities to make this revolt unnassailable by Benali are Sfax and Tunis #sidibouzid #jasminrevolt sfax has started moving

Manifestation in #Kairouan now in front Habitat bank..stones and tear gas bombs used

I now know exactly the effect of tear gaz bombs:burning eyes, tears, can't see, unbearable pain in chest and nose, awfull smell

Strikes for #sidibouzid in all over the country

Manar University Campus, police forces attacked the student with the tear gas

manif campus manar (2) #sidibouzid #OpTunisia http://yfrog.com/hsh5kvxj http://yfrog.com/gzodavj http://yfrog.com/h3lj8dj

Tunisia to respond to protests http://english.aljazeera.net/news/africa/2011/01/20111109030302593.html

Today's high school protests for #sidibouzid spread like fire all over the country, who said our youth was lost and unconscious?

Tunisia: “Please tell the world Kasserine is dying!” http://bit.ly/gGy0Jg #sidibouzid #jasminrevolt

Rap from #Tunisia: "President, your people are dying!" http://on.fb.me/hkrrAX

don't forget that Tunisian #blogger Slim #Amamou is still arrested and held incommunicado http://bit.ly/eKEBat

New blog post: [Video] A Song For Tunisia: The Free Knows No Fear #SidiBouzid http://tumblr.com/x1u186ypjt

Classes are suspended at ma3had al namoothaji in Sousa

Notice the gaz from the bomb & how people running in all directions, an old lady passed out!#kairouan http://tinyurl.com/2bp8vxz

Video: Today's General strike in Ar-reqab إضراب عام اليوم بمدينة الرقاب حزنا على القتلى #sidibouzid http://is.gd/ktNv7

"5 news bodies found in Thala this norning. 3 in local police station. Families were not allowed to recover them." #SidiBouzid via @TunNews

Sbeitla, in #Kasserine, protesters set on fire the office of ben ali's party http://on.fb.me/fEcOVN #SidiBouzid #JasminRevolt

Clashes between students attending Farhat Hashad, Al Habib Thamer, and Nov 7th institutions and the police in Binzart

Breaking news: European Union requests #Tunisia to release arrested people

People protesting in Nafta (south of #Tunisia)...

5 more killed in #Kasserine this morning (cite El-Zouhour and El-Karama) #SidiBouzid #JasminRevolt

More shocking videos and photos from Tunisia: http://is.gd/ktwoO (Article in French)

Protest in the hospital of Sfax #sidibouzid http://fb.me/Pdfhhpsv

The news of the firing the army general is unverified

Army in Fariana (#Kasserine state)... But not stopping the protesters...

Tunisia Sunday LiveBlog: At Least 20 & Up to 51 Dead in Saturday/Sunday Clashes http://tinyurl.com/34f5bqv

Mike Harman

13 years 5 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Mike Harman on January 10, 2011

Mark. - if you have time, writing this up for a news article would get this some more attention - we can put it on the front page of the site, and it'll show up in google news etc. (I could probably transfer the comments on here to the news article as well if that's useful).

About a week or two ago there was a very small protest in Egypt when the government tried to reclassify a school (not really up on the details, I know someone who went to that school a long time ago and it was on his facebook). Just one school, but several hundred people at the demo, and it may be a sign of other things going on there as well.

Mark.

13 years 5 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Mark. on January 10, 2011

Mike - I'll see what I can do though I don't think I'll be able to write anything today and it might just be something that serves as an introduction to the thread. I've been regretting not starting this as a news article in the first place.

Mike Harman

13 years 5 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Mike Harman on January 10, 2011

Something that just introduces the thread is fine, also it's completely fine to update news articles once posted - an admin has to approve the edit but that's the only hurdle.

Mark.

13 years 5 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Mark. on January 10, 2011

It would be good if someone could do a photo gallery at some point as well.

As far as moving the comments I've put up links to this thread elsewhere and they will need to keep working. I'm not sure whether that will be a problem or not.

Mark.

13 years 5 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Mark. on January 10, 2011

[youtube]JponkJuV6aM[/youtube]

Mark.

13 years 5 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Mark. on January 10, 2011

An eyewitness account from Tala

Tunisian blog Khayl wa Layl (Horses and Nights) posted a letter from a woman (Ar) from Tala, detailing some of the horrors they have been witnessing over the last few days.

Six people were killed in Tala, which is located 200km southwest of the capital Tunis, and another six injured when the police opened fire at protesters there yesterday, said news reports.

In her letter, she writes:

The protests started in 2008, but despite their recurrence over the previous years, no one responded to our demands, despite the fact that they were simple. The last demand followed the death of Bouazizi. We should note that the demands were peaceful despite the continuous repression from the regime, and in the absence of basic rights, such as the right of expression. The oppression of the security forces on the protesters was the final straw. This is why they burnt the first symbol of the regime, the Gathering Hall, and the first symbol of the violation of privacy, the police station.

The letter continues:

That was last Monday. On Tuesday, at 10am, students from the institute tried to leave to take part in a demonstration. They were surrounded there but some students were able to escape, while the rest were suffocated with the tear gas bombs. At noon, the rest were able to leave, and the confrontations started. The people of the town last night fell asleep at the sound of live ammunition, and woke up this morning at the sound of the screaming mothers of martyrs, and the sound of the recitation of the Quran and the start of the period of mourning. The martyrs accounted for are as follows: Ahmed Omari, 17, a student; Ahmed Bala'abi, 30; Ayman Rutabi, 14; Marwan Jamli, 19; and Ghassan Shneeti, 18, a butcher, and his family's only bread winner. All this was happening as Tunisia was busy with a football match, with total disregard to the meeting between the unarmed people of my beloved Tala and forces, armed with weapons. The repression continued with the disconnection of electricity. All the shops were shut and it was with difficulty that we were able to take the injured to the hospital. Even with those buried, the barbarians agreed on condition that they be buried by the women alone! And while a funeral procession for one of the martyrs was on its way to the burial grounds, it was attacked with tear gas, which led to leaving the coffin on the street. After several attempts, they were able to collect the body, and bury the martyr and on their way back, they were attacked once again with live ammunition and bombs. A hospital source in Tala also confirms the death of a nurse from the attack of the security forces.

The woman concludes her letter saying:

Tala is now enveloped in sadness and quiet. Is this the quiet before the storm? Or will the sea of blood continue to rise in the face of the total disregard of Tunis 7 (a television station), which is not speaking the truth!!

Amira Al Hussaini 10 January 2011

Mark.

13 years 5 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Mark. on January 10, 2011

Tunisia closes universities to quell unrest

Tunisia's government ordered the indefinite closure of all schools and universities on Monday

[...]

"Following violence in universities and lycees and while awaiting an investigation to establish who was responsible for inciting students we have decided to stop all the lessons in all educational establishments .... from tomorrow, Tuesday, until further notice," the official TAP news agency quoted the Education Ministry as saying.

[...]

In the provincial towns that were the scene of many of the deaths at the weekend, there was renewed confrontation though not on the scale of previous days

[...]

In the town of Gassrine, about 200 km (125 miles) southwest of the capital, a witness said a funeral procession for civilians killed at the weekend turned into a confrontation.

"Police opened fire into the air," Mohamed Ali Nasri told Reuters by telephone from the scene.

In the town of Rgeb, witnesses said funeral processions for people shot in earlier clashes also turned violent.

"The town is encircled by the police. There are 2,000 protesters in a confrontation throughout the town with the police, who are using teargas and are opening fire," Kamel Labidi, who said he was at the scene, told Reuters by telephone.

[...]

In the towns of Thala, Gassrine, Seliana, Rgeb and Meknassi army trucks were sent in to re-enforce police, residents said.

.

Manifestations à Tunis, Morts à Regueb

.

Speech by Ben Ali this afternoon

Auto

13 years 5 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Auto on January 10, 2011

I mentioned this to some friends at work (non-political types) and they were shocked that such a thing wouldn't get any major airtime on the news.

Where do people think this is going to go? Just following Mark's posts it seems like it's continually escalating... but to where?

Mark.

13 years 5 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Mark. on January 11, 2011

El sindicalismo autónomo argelino, junto a la LADDH, declara su apoyo a la rebelión de la juventud argelina

Statements of support for the uprising of Algerian youth from autonomous unions in education and public administration, and from the Algerian league for the defence of human rights. This is a Spanish translation from the CGT North Africa site.

The CGT has links with some of these unions including SNAPAP and the CLA teachers union. There's an interview with an anarcho-syndicalist CLA member here.

Submitted by Mark. on January 11, 2011

Auto

Where do people think this is going to go? Just following Mark's posts it seems like it's continually escalating... but to where?

I've no special insights on this and I'd be interested in what people like Khawaga and Devrim think about it.

joselito

13 years 5 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by joselito on January 11, 2011

The struggles in Algeria in the 1990s and this century also showed no presence of Islamicist groups (except as very brutal counter-revolutionary forces).

I'm not sure if we lived through the same 1990's, but Algerian political formations during that time both in terms of political parties (FIS and later GIA) and generally among the urban haitiste and lumpen were either completely dominated by or extremely succeptible to islamicist ideas. The Islamic Group in Egypt played a similar role, in both cases casting a retrograde cultural shadow over all forms of political dissent and possibilities for social change. The situation in Morocco was similar as well, and in all countries continued throughout most of the 2000's

I guess the main problem, as always, is the chasm between the unemployed and the employed working class - but I'd guess - in Tunisia at least - this is breaking down.
.

It has typically been the unemployed that were more vulnerable to islamicist ideas, while those with jobs and education would have more secular tendencies.

All I was saying initially was that more recent struggles stand in contrast to the above mentioned politics, no religious justifications have been trotted out in the price riots, unemployed worker fights, housing struggles and labor disputes going out throughout north africa.

Samotnaf

13 years 5 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Samotnaf on January 11, 2011

joselito:

I'm not sure if we lived through the same 1990's, but Algerian political formations during that time both in terms of political parties (FIS and later GIA) and generally among the urban haitiste and lumpen were either completely dominated by or extremely succeptible to islamicist ideas.

As I understood it, the movements in Kabylie In Algeria, where most of the riots and social movements of this century and the 1990s happened, were secular and had a general "socialist" outlook. Again, as far as I understood it, the FIS were very much violently opposed to these movements. Other movements in Algeria may well have been different, but not the Kabylie ones afaik. But perhaps we're talking at cross purposes here - I wasn't talking about "political formations" but about struggles - in particular, I was talking about riots; as far as i know (which, admittedly, is not saying very much) there were very few strikes other than those initiated by the FIS in rivalry with the government who'd over-ruled the election result which went the FIS's way in the early 1990s ('91? '92?).

But maybe you know something different...?

Mark.

13 years 5 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Mark. on January 11, 2011

There's also a thread on the Tunisia uprising on urban75

touneyssa

Salam everyone, I am a tunisian living in london, as a matter of fact there is no tunisian organisation in london if we don't consider the gathering of some individuals who got political asylium in the 90's as an organistaion though they have all means and experience

I with few other tunisian activists and very amateur ones as well founded the tunisia solidarity campaign to inform in particular and centralize the support of the uk based tunisian diaspora.. we just created the website
http://tunisiasolidarity.wordpress.com/ so feeds will be more and more regular as we figure new ways to translate and pass the info efficiently for those interested.

If anyone has questions about what has been happening feel free to contact me at touneyssa[at]gmail.com

Mark.

13 years 5 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Mark. on January 11, 2011

Tunisia: the brink of revolution

The Tunisian regime was fighting for survival yesterday. Reports and videos of clashes between police and demonstrators circulated on the internet throughout the day – so many that it became difficult to keep track. In some of them civilians were shot and killed – though at this stage it is impossible to even guess at the numbers.

Perhaps most telling were the scenes, reminiscent of the fall of Saddam Hussein, where pictures of President Ben Ali were openly destroyed in the streets (two examples here and here).

The EU issued a statement echoing that of the United States, calling for "restraint in the use of force and for the respect of fundamental freedoms", as did the UN secretary-general, Ban Ki-moon.

At 4pm local time, Ben Ali appeared on television and on this occasion his speech was not interrupted by a telephone call. It's a subjective assessment, but I felt from his demeanour that he looked more than a little rattled. Unlike his speech two weeks ago, where he was seated presidentially behind a gigantic desk, this time he decided to stand – as if ready to dash out of room at a moment's notice.

He began with some familiar bluster, deriding (and insulting) the thousands of protesters by blaming "hostile elements in the pay of foreigners, who have sold their souls to extremism and terrorism, manipulated from outside the country". This was so obviously untrue that, from then on, most of his audience probably stopped listening.

He followed this up with an implausible-sounding promise to create 300,000 new jobs within two years, and to hold a "national conference" next month (which nobody apart from the regime's most diehard supporters is likely to attend).

Clutching weakly for other things to offer, he announced "a new impetus to regional newspapers devoting space daily to all governorates of the country" and said the "people's representatives" would be asked to "intensify their periodic contacts with citizens".

He ended, very oddly, by thanking his "dear brother", Colonel Gadafy, for support and appeared to suggest that anyone who is unhappy with life in Tunisia should go to Libya. The situation must be truly dire if the only world leader you can publicly thank for support is Gadafy.

Following his speech, in which Ben Ali also lectured Tunisians on the importance the regime attaches to education, the education ministry demonstrated the regime's commitment by announcing that schools and universities would be closed until further notice.

Reports on Twitter overnight say access to Facebook within Tunisia has now been blocked in its entirety. Previously the regime had been blocking individual Facebook pages. If true, this is another blunder. Not only will it stir up further anger among Tunisia's youth; it will also be seen as a direct snub to the US, the EU and the UN, who have all made a specific point about the need for free expression.

Maybe the next step is martial law but, as of yesterday, all the signs point to the regime losing control. More civilian deaths mean more funerals, and more funerals mean more protests. And keeping kids out of school, without even Facebook to keep them occupied, is also a recipe for trouble.

Maybe Ben Ali will continue urging his security forces to redouble their efforts, but cooler heads in the police and army ought to be telling him (if they are not doing so already) that there is now only one action that can quell the riots: the departure of Ben Ali himself.

Brian Whitaker, 11 Jan 2011

Mark.

13 years 5 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Mark. on January 11, 2011

Recently on twitter

A huge march is taking place now in the City of Baja (N-W of Tunis)

Tunis Now : Artists trying to protest peacefully are being aggressed by police

Movie and theater celebrities were beaten by police forces for joining a flashmob in Tunis

Now: Tunisian artists molested by police on Tunis main avenue

TUNINDEX -4.28% now

Today the facebook was censored for 5 h in Tunisia

Int'l human rights org "has names of 35 dead"; total "at least 50" http://tinyurl.com/5u9x3gy

The police deployed snipers on the roofs in Kassrin

Clash in Rades #sidibouzid http://fb.me/Etl1YNHd

new protests in a new city in tunisia in the north : BEJA

sabot

13 years 5 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by sabot on January 11, 2011

Ya, I'm a bit suprised that we dont have any news articles on this yet. If I knew more about the situation over there I'd do it myself.

joselito

13 years 5 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by joselito on January 11, 2011

Samotnaf, briefly not to derail this.

As I understood it, the movements in Kabylie In Algeria, where most of the riots and social movements of this century and the 1990s happened, were secular and had a general "socialist" outlook.

True enough, the Kabyle struggle is in someways a parallel struggle to islamicism in Algeria. But it has been restricted by its principal political reps to a specific "cultural movement" about language and cultural expression. This did break down briefly during the Black Spring '01 when both partys headquarters were destroyed and arouch (something like neighborhood councils) were established. Nonetheless, the Kabyle struggle has proto-nationalist overtone due in part to the fact that the Kabyle were given special treatment by the French as a bulwark against the Arabs, they are strongly represented in the gov, many have lived andworked in France and today they are disproportionately represented among the elite, middle and upper classes in Algeria.

[/quote]Again, as far as I understood it, the FIS were very much violently opposed to these movements. Other movements in Algeria may well have been different, but not the Kabylie ones afaik. [/quote]
Yes, the FIS wanted sharia and continued arabization, which was not in the interests of the Kabyle, but recently a hybridization has taken place (in the past decade) at least with Al Qaeda and other Salafist groups using the Kabyle region as a base of operations and with some success recruiting among the Kabyle.

Probably stuff you already know.....

Valeriano Orob…

13 years 5 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Valeriano Orob… on January 11, 2011

First of all, thanks a lot for this thread (specially mark's contributions) that i'm following everyday with the highest interest.

Second, to Joselito: this( http://infokiosques.net/IMG/pdf/Jaime_Semprun_-_Apologie_pour_l_insurection_algerienne.pdf ) is a text for those of you who read french by Jaime Semprún on 2001's upheaval and my only source about recent unrest in Algeria (i ain't counting here the conversations i've had with algerians that live here who fundamentally agree with the text) According to the info the berber cultural revindication tho it exists, plays no significant role in the movement. Even if the berber aarchs, that is assemblies, have historically played an important role in launching and organizing the revolt, this is no way a secessionist or berber fight against an arab majority. On the contrary back then and more than likely today, fight were fought jointly.

Try the text it's worth it. And long live Tunisian and Algerian proletarit's revolt!

Red Marriott

13 years 5 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Red Marriott on January 11, 2011

sabot

Ya, I'm a bit suprised that we dont have any news articles on this yet.

Agreed.

If I knew more about the situation over there I'd do it myself.

I wouldn't let that stop you or anyone else taking it on; thanks to Mark primarily (and others) there are already enough facts and links on this thread to create a very useful article. Doing that would be part of a learning process for anyone who wants to know more about the region, its history and ongoing events. An OK article would also be likely to attract those sympathetic to its viewpoint who had more direct knowledge of events.

On another thread posters are promoting the idea of libcom blogs being submitted for some bourgeois media prize - yet, despite many regular posters who shoot the bull on here, 2 weeks in and no news article on a major insurrection? Priorities are all upside down.

Mark.

13 years 5 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Mark. on January 11, 2011

From the International Marxist Tendency site. I'm not enthusiastic about their politics but this is a useful article.

Tunisian revolt goes on unabated: ‘We do not fear you any more!’

The movement that started in the Central and Western rural areas of Tunisia has by now reached almost all corners of the country. Unemployment, poverty and a suffocating police state are pushing the masses into action. In the last weeks many others villages and cities witnessed one form or another of protest. In some cities the demonstrators attacked and destroyed government buildings, banks, police headquarters and the offices of the ruling party, the RCD. In others, trade union activists demonstrated in front of the headquarters of the union, the Union Général des Travailleurs de Tunisie (UGTT).

In an about-turn, the domesticated leadership of the UGTT has been forced by the pressure from below to condemn the actions of the government. Demonstrations have been organised in the industrial suburbs of Tunis, in Ben Assour or in the workers bastion of Gafsa in the mining area. Local branches of the UGTT especially in the regions most affected by the revolt have been calling for strikes. The UGTT leadership instead called for “a one minute silence” of hundreds activists in front of its headquarter in the capital, Tunis.

School students and university students are also joining the uprising. Pitched battles between police and the students have taken place on campuses and in front of high schools. A lawyer's demonstration in Tunis was also brutally baton charged by the police.

[…]

This uprising is to a large extent the result of spontaneous combustion. There is no central democratic organisation of the uprising and no clear program. But a layer of activists is reaching new conclusions and is starting to increase the level of organisation and consciousness at local and regional level. Within the UGTT union the tensions are rising between the rank and file and the dictatorship-friendly leaders. The student union, UGET, which has a tremendous tradition of struggle but was also high jacked by elements of the regime is going through turbulent times. Militant students are trying to reclaim the union. Whatever the immediate result of this movement, Tunisia will not be the same again.

Django

13 years 5 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Django on January 11, 2011

I've been planning to bang an article together on this (hopefully as the basis for looking into events in more detail, which is what they deserve), unfortunately I've not had enough time as of yet. But if someone has the time and inclination to do it it would be very useful.

Mark.

13 years 5 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Mark. on January 11, 2011

Time's the problem for me really. I'm a slow writer and I know if sit down to try and write the article that needs writing it will mean taking a break from updating this thread.

Taking Red Marriott's point it does start to feel like people here can create endless threads about Russia in 1917 or Spain or decadence theory or whatever but have nothing to say when a revolution actually starts. Thanks to the people who have contributed though.

Mark.

13 years 5 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Mark. on January 11, 2011

Today's events in Tunisia

A brief summary of reported events in Tunisia on Tuesday:

Latest videos: Police attack demonstrators outside union building in Sfax; early morning incident in the centre of Bizerte; protest in Ben Guerdane.

Tunisian stock market falls again, to lowest since last May.

Biggest trade union, UGTT, calls for general strike; date to be confirmed.

Several pictures on internet of police armed with Steyr AUG guns (made in Austria).

Continuing reports of a heavy death toll in Kasserine. As many as 50, according to some sources.

Several reports on Twitter of undercover regime supporters looting and being filmed by police – presumably to discredit protesters.

Heavy police presence in Tunis. Shops, etc, closed in Avenue Bourguiba. Group of lawyers beaten up while preparing to hold a peaceful protest. Ditto, a group of 100 actors, musicians and artists trying to do a flashmob.

Rumours of a curfew in Tunis from 7pm tonight.

Facebook access reportedly returns after a five-hour break.

Police visit cafes in Tunis suburbs, ordering owners not to show al-Jazeera on the TV.

Radio Kalima journalist Nizar Ben Hassen arrested at his home in Chebba.

There is some speculation on Twitter about the role of the Tunisian military, with suggestions that the army, or at least sections of it, is refusing to take part in the repression. (I have no idea whether that is true or not.)

...

Brian Whitaker, 11 Jan 2011

Submitted by Mark. on January 11, 2011

Radio Kalima journalist Nizar Ben Hassen arrested at his home in Chebba.

En outre, Moez Jemai, correspondant de Radio Kalima à Gabès (400 km au sud de Tunis), a été arrêté par quatre policiers en civil, le 6 janvier dernier, vers 14 heures. Aspergé de gaz paralysant, il a été poussé de force dans un véhicule banalisé et transféré au ministère de l’Intérieur à Tunis. Lors d’interrogatoires portant sur sa couverture des évènements de Sidi Bouzid, il a été victime de mauvais traitements. Il a été relâché le samedi 8 janvier dans la soirée, à Tunis.

This quote, and the one in Spanish below, refers to another Radio Kalima journalist, Moez El Jemai, who also works with the CGT North Africa site. He was arrested on 6 January and tortured and interrogated before being released two days later.

Fin de semana sangriento en Túnez La represión es implacable

Detenido un periodista, amigo de la CGT

Agentes de la policía política secuestraron el 6 de enero, en Gabes, al periodista Moez EL Jemai, corresponsal de Radio Kalima, en Gabès después de haberlo regado con gas paralizante. Fue trasladado más tarde al Ministerio del Interior en la capital donde, según sus declaraciones, sufrió malos tratos y torturas. Fue trasladado con los ojos vendados, por varios locales del Ministerio de Interior donde se le pregungtaba continuamente sobre su actividad profesional en la radio. Los policías le ha amenazado con acusarle de “incitación a la violencia” debido a su cobertura de las protestas. Fue puesto en libertad la tarde del 8 de enero.

Mouez El Jemal es amigo de la CGT y colabora con el equipo de trabajo de la CGT para el norte de África. http://www.kalimatunisie.com/

Mark.

13 years 5 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Mark. on January 11, 2011

Biggest trade union, UGTT, calls for general strike; date to be confirmed.

Embrasement dans la capitale

Des sources d’Assabilonline ont affirmé que la Commission Administrative de l’UGTT, réunie aujourd’hui mardi 11 janvier, avait décidé de façon extraordinaire de grèves régionales et sectorielles générales sur tout le territoire pour protester contre le tir à balles réelles sur les citoyens de Sidi Bouzid et Kasserine…

gram negative

13 years 5 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by gram negative on January 12, 2011

I don't have anything to add, but thanks Mark. for everything that you have done on this thread.

Mark.

13 years 5 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Mark. on January 12, 2011

From the BBC:

World Service broadcast: unrest in Tunisia forces schools to close

Report from and radio interview with BBC correspondent Chloe Arnold in Algiers. I can't say I'm that impressed really but at least the story is being covered.

'Dozens killed' in Tunisia protests

At least 35 people have died in violent unrest in Tunisia, according to a human rights group.

The authorities have said 21 people were killed in protests in recent days.

Union and health officials suggest that 50 died in the town of Kasserine alone. Fresh protests broke out late on Tuesday in the capital, Tunis...

Tunisia protests: Fresh clashes in Tunis

Fresh protests have broken out in a suburb of the Tunisian capital, Tunis.

Police reportedly fired into the air to disperse protesters in Ettadamen, 15km (9 miles) from the centre of Tunis...

Reaction to violence in Tunisia and Algeria

Tunisians and an Algerian, who spoke to BBCArabic.com, react to the current unrest in their countries and discuss how closely the causes of clashes in the two countries are linked.

...

Intisar Kahreji

There is profound oppression in Tunisia.

My family had to flee the country because of my father's opposition to the regime.

This oppression, together with high youth unemployment - which led one young man to commit suicide recently - and corruption have created a sense of despair amongst young people.

A small minority of people live in villas and palaces, while the rest endure a harsh life.

It is meaningless to talk about helping young people or working to improve their conditions because quite simply the state's resources are monopolised by a small clique. The economic growth that Tunisia enjoyed over recent years benefited this small circle.

Had the suppression of the demonstrators we see now in Tunisia occurred in, say, Iran or China, Europe would have made a major issue of it.

However, the reaction of the EU, Tunisia's biggest commercial partner, has been very weak.

Indeed, the EU did not even issue a response until three weeks after the start of the unrest.

The last article is the most interesting, perhaps because it's letting Tunisians and Algerians speak for themselves.

Mark.

13 years 5 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Mark. on January 12, 2011

Al Jazeera: Tunisia unrest spreads to capital

Police have fired into the air to disperse rioters ransacking buildings in a suburb of Tunisia's capital.



The violence in the predominantly working class neighbourhood of Ettadem late on Tuesday was the first in Tunis since a wave of unrest that has killed at least 23 people, according to officials.



A reporter for the Reuters news agency said that hundreds of youths threw stones at police before smashing shops and setting fire to a bank.

He said the crowd had blocked the roads with burning tyres, set fire to a bus and two cars and also set fire to a local government office.



"We are not afraid, we are not afraid, we are afraid only of God," the crowds chanted.

As well as warning shots, the police fired tear gas grenades to try to force people back...

Khawaga

13 years 5 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Khawaga on January 12, 2011

Mark.

I've no special insights on this and I'd be interested in what people like Khawaga and Devrim think about it.

Unfortunately I know very little about Tunisia, so I don't have any special insight either. What you're posting Mark. (plus some Egyptian bloggers, but they're not commies) is basically what I know about what's happening.

Mark.

13 years 5 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Mark. on January 12, 2011

Khawaga - Fair enough really. I suppose I was hoping for some informed speculation about where this is leading, but that's actually quite difficult unless you've spent time in a country and know it quite well.

Mark.

13 years 5 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Mark. on January 12, 2011

Recently on twitter

clashes now in the capital #Tunis in Malaseen & Tadhamoun neighbourhoods

Tunisians on IRC: "Authorities announce curfew in Tunis."

A Kasserine, le «chaos» relaté par les internautes tunisiens #sidibouzid http://bit.ly/dS48dI

French national TV TF1 reports from Kasserine: http://is.gd/kApFb (Video, French)

Video: Police open fire on protestors in Kasserine #sidibouzid http://www.facebook.com/video/video.php?v=132831330114924

Communiqué du NPA. Répression en #Tunisie : halte à la complicité du gouvernement français. #sidibouzid #france http://bit.ly/hiuzji

Poursuite et extension du mouvement de protestation #sidibouzid http://post.ly/1TKpx

Algeria and Tunisia: Protests Threaten Repressive Regimes #sidibouzid http://yhoo.it/hiKK9H

Riots Present and Future #sidibouzid http://bit.ly/dHLoTi

EFF Calls for Immediate Action to Defend Tunisian Activists Against Government Cyberattacks http://goo.gl/BXLbE

A picture showing who is behind banks robbery in Kassrin #SidiBouzid http://fb.me/sRsd5tRT

More raids and arrests in Tala, and the cops are robbing the markets

Also, here a video showing the military protecting civilians: http://is.gd/kAhF6 | Kudos

Artistes were clubbed by the police after trying a flashmobe in front of the My Theater in the capital

Clash with the police in Al Tadamon(in the Capital) #SidiBouzid http://fb.me/DhCuS9CO

France wants to /assist/ the Tunisian police.... http://is.gd/kAxiq

According to a source in Rabta hospital there are 4 dead people in the streets and a lot of injured haven’t been evacuated

News is that some of my cousins are still under fire in Sousse, DenDen nearby Bardo is quiet, Nabeul is in riot

Video: Protests and Response by the "West" http://tinyurl.com/4rozzjz

Terrifying: Rape of girls committed by the BOP in Kasserine #sidibouzid @SBZ_news http://tiny.cc/wt1vn

Radio Kalima report about rape cases in Kasserine came from #FB profile of leading Human Rights activist Sihem Bensedrine

Right now a clash between the police and protesters in Gabes

Next is Egypt turn, and that will be huge! #sidibouzid Un vent de liberté souffle au Maghreb. Vive la crise des subprimes

France24 news just confirmed the protestations happening right now in the capital #Tunis. #SidiBouzid #JasminRevolt

.

It's getting quite hard to keep up with the information coming out of Tunisia. Just now there have been calls on twitter to "please be responsible, tweet only sure informations with video or photos", and of course claims may be unfounded or unconfirmed.

Khawaga

13 years 5 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Khawaga on January 12, 2011

Mark.

Khawaga - Fair enough really. I suppose I was hoping for some informed speculation about where this is leading, but that's actually quite difficult unless you've spent time in a country and know it quite well.

I could speculate based on similar occurrences in Egypt, but I don't know how worthwhile that would be.

Mark.

13 years 5 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Mark. on January 12, 2011

Khawaga - Any thoughts on how people are reacting to this in Egypt or what influence it might have would be interesting.

Mark.

13 years 5 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Mark. on January 12, 2011

A new chronicle: Ben Ali of Tunisia: the beginning of the ending

Ben Ali’s in laws are reportedly left the country and have headed to Canada “ Canadians please do not welcome them, they are thieves, do not let them enjoy your great citizenship and refugee privileges” Tunisian protesters are said to receive them in the airport.

The Moroccan newspapers say that Ben Ali has fired his army chief staff Rashid Amar because he ordered the army to attack the protesters in fact to protect them. He appointed the chief of Military intelligence instead of him.

The army has been deployed to several areas in the country.

Up till now 12 civilians have been killed alone tonight in Tunis , the capital.

I think we must think now in a coup d'état scenario. 

The story is rapidly developing in Tunisia

Mark.

13 years 5 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Mark. on January 12, 2011

And finally for tonight...

Just now on twitter

Huge security on all ways to the Presidential palace in Tunis #sidibouzid guys shall I go to bed or continue to see Ben Ali's end

Video of woman describing the arrival in Montreal of El Materi, magnate and Ben Ali relative http://goo.gl/zgueq

As #JasminRevolution clashes approach the Presidential Palace, Ben Ali's in-laws flee to #Montreal?

The dictator's 3 daughters along with their husbands flee the country http://www.985fm.ca/audioplayer.php?mp3=88706 #SidiBouzid

Eyewitness : Ministery of interior surrounded by the military

Mike Harman

13 years 5 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Mike Harman on January 12, 2011

OK so I'm going to do this:

1. Merge the first and second posts on this thread together.
2. Convert this to a news article
3. Add a second path alias for it (so it's available at /news and /forums)
4. Write a short introduction to the thread as the basis for the news article.

Then we can try to improve the article itself from there.

Edit - this is now done. Will try to sort it out a bit more later.

Samotnaf

13 years 5 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Samotnaf on January 12, 2011

Don't in any way want to derail this excellent and informative thread, but just to respond to joselito's

Probably stuff you already know.....

(post #103) - no i didn't.
And for extra information about the uprising in Kabylie in 2001, other than the Encylopaedie des Nuisances one previously mentioned, check out this.
Also, today there's a Guardian article, expressed obviously in liberal terms, on the possible spread of social movements in the Arab world.

Mike Harman

13 years 5 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Mike Harman on January 12, 2011

Just seen this:
http://thenextweb.com/twitter/2011/01/12/military-coup-in-tunisia-the-revolution-is-being-tweeted/

Suggests there's been a military coup and there's a new acting president. Not sure if this is new information or just the same things that Mark. picked up last night summarized.

The most recent reports from those within Tunisia state and from what we’ve seen on Twitter are that the Ben Ali regime has been brought down by a military coup and that General Rachid Ammar has been given temporary status as President. However, it’s again worth noting that these are rumors. The latest update from the only news source that we’ve seen covering anything about Tunisia comes again from Al Jazeera and does not mention anything other than unrest:

Submitted by sabot on January 12, 2011

Red Marriott

sabot

Ya, I'm a bit suprised that we dont have any news articles on this yet.

Agreed.

If I knew more about the situation over there I'd do it myself.

I wouldn't let that stop you or anyone else taking it on; thanks to Mark primarily (and others) there are already enough facts and links on this thread to create a very useful article. Doing that would be part of a learning process for anyone who wants to know more about the region, its history and ongoing events. An OK article would also be likely to attract those sympathetic to its viewpoint who had more direct knowledge of events.

On another thread posters are promoting the idea of libcom blogs being submitted for some bourgeois media prize - yet, despite many regular posters who shoot the bull on here, 2 weeks in and no news article on a major insurrection? Priorities are all upside down.

TBH, I dont have much experience writing up articles and it will definitely need a good proof read before posted. Any ideas for a beginner?

Mike Harman

13 years 5 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Mike Harman on January 12, 2011

There's some stuff here - http://libcom.org/notes/content-guidelines

With this specifically, since events are moving so quickly, it might be worth trying to do a timeline summary of events - this would allow for later updating as well. For a lot of people it's going to be the first thing they see about it so that format allows them to get an idea quickly, and can link off to twitter, other articles and this thread for more information.

It'd be more or less just picking things out from here, and formatting it with dates in a single post with an introduction. This doesn't preclude either you or someone else writing something more analytical in a separate article later.

Also like Mark. said, trying to build up an image gallery would be great as well, all posters on the site can make image galleries now I think (if not I can fix that or give you permissions).

Mark.

13 years 5 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Mark. on January 12, 2011

Mike - Thanks for sorting that out. Check this link for continuing updates today.

Tunisia LiveBlog: Will President Ben Ali "Go the Way of Romania's Ceausescu"?

1125 GMT: Prime Minister Mohamed Ghannouchi has announced on television that most detainees arrested since the start of protests in mid-December are being freed.

Ghannouchi also announced the appointment of a new Minister of Interior, Ahmed Friaa, replacing Rafik Belhaj Kacem. Friaa is a former mayor, Minister of Communications, and Dean of the National Engineering School of Tunis.

It is also reported that he has called for an enquiry into allegations of corruption and the behaviour of officials in the current crisis.

1035 GMT: Labour activists have told Al Jazeera that there will be general strikes in the provimces of Kasserine, Sfax, and Gabes today, with plans for a strike on Thursday in the provinces of Kairouan and Jendouba and on Friday in Tunis.

The General Union of Tunisian Workers has called for a fact-finding commission to investigation the firing of ammunition into crowds. It has also demanded the immediate withdrawal of military forces from cities and the end to use of special forces by the Ministry of Interior.

1020 GMT: Troops have been deployed in Tunis this morning, according to AFP.

Armoured vehicles are in the streets, and troops are taking up positions at major intersections and at the entrance to the Cite Ettadhamen quarter, where clashes occurred on Tuesday night.

This is the first time troops have been deployed in the capital since the start of current protests in mid-December.

0945 GMT: This image is from a couple of days ago, but I thought it striking enough to feature again --- a group of students assemble themselves to spell out in Arabic, "No to Murder":

0730 GMT: There are reports of an attack on the Tunisian Embassy in Switzerland overnight. Attempts to set a fire caused slight damage.

Earlier this week, there was a similar attack on a Tunisian Consulate in a Parisian suburb. 

0715 GMT: On Tuesday, protests continued across Tunisia, with two incidents of note in and near the capital Tunis. Police broke up a gathering of about 100 artists in the centre of the city, and last night they fired tear gas and shot into the air to disperse demonstrators when they smashed shops and set fire to a bus, two cars, a local government office, and a bank in the suburbs of Ettadem.

The crowd chanted, "We are not afraid, we are not afraid, we are afraid only of God." 

Earlier in the day, as more footage emerged of protests, responses by security forces, and the tearing down of President Ben Ali's image, discussion focused on the death toll. Witnesses and activists put the weekend's number of dead at more than 50, and the Government edged up its official tally to 21 last night…

Mark.

13 years 5 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Mark. on January 12, 2011

Recently on twitter (claims may be unconfirmed)

BREAKING NEWS: Tunisian interior minister fired, says prime minister http://english.ahram.org.eg/News/3716.aspx

Tunisian president fires interior minister, orders release of all detained in #SidiBouzid unrest accr to (Reuters) http://bit.ly/fC9zsI 

TV7: Ben Ali orders release of all ppl detained during protests except those involved in criminal activity

Tunisian President fires minister of interior, appoints a new one - from same clan -, orders release of all Uprising detainees

Tunisian state-run TV: Ben Ali appoints new Prime Minister

Ben Ali announces release of prisoners, while reports say opposition figure Hamma Hammami kidnapped last night

BreakingNews: 30,000 people in streets in Sfax city in Tunisia

Trouble in Tunisia: Unrest Reaches Capital City - TIME #sidibouzid http://bit.ly/eFLOin

Screenshot de la bourse #freetunisia #sidibouzid http://plixi.com/p/69467732

It's hard to track what's going on unless you speak French or Arabic but there are significant developments in Tunisia - see #SidiBouzid

Appeal to army, security bodies, not to let Ben Ali flee Tunisia (French) http://bit.ly/gib6ZM

Thala, police firing on protestors with live ammo right now. Ben Ali is a murderer and a liar

Manifestation #sfax : 1 death at least just wait for his name

Video: tens of thousands marching in Sfax today فيديو: مظاهرة ضخمة في صفاقس اليوم #sidibouzid http://post.ly/1TY2T

New Min of Interior Friaa - Former Min of Comms, mayor, & Dean of Engineering http://tinyurl.com/62s2gtd

Troops move to curb tunisia unrest: Armed forces were stationed on the capital's streets for the first time sinc... http://aje.me/fNE6Fd

Economist: Will Ben Ali be tunisia 's Ceausescu? http://arb.st/gOonDo

BBC News: tunisia n interior minister sacked: tunisia 's president dismisses Interior Minister http://bbc.in/eWCJG7”

New on Arabist: Uncertainty in tunisia http://arb.st/hcJLZj

Video: The Latest Protests of "Tens of Thousands" http://tinyurl.com/6aoa9bq

Tunisie : la France ne condamne pas... elle propose son aide à Ben Ali: http://bit.ly/f9vyDS

Le #Maroc interdit une manifestation de soutien aux #tunisiens http://bit.ly/fIhB84

2 Martyrs in Douz today, one of them is a university professor at a French university

I repeat: The liberation of detainees is conditioned. Source TV7. It's a lure I tell you people!

#Army at 7novembre one of #Sfax main streets. confirmed by phone!

2 morts ce matin a sfax.. source sure de l'hopital de sfax

2nd largest HQ of the dominant political party (RCD) in Sfax is on fire

Sfax today: bombes lacrymogènes http://tinyurl.com/4onufck

Street protests, tear gas and deployed army this second in #Mednine in southern Tunisia

teargas in bizerte..police is filming evreybody taking part in manifestation

Mark.

13 years 5 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Mark. on January 12, 2011

Tunisia: whisperings of coup just rumor

Early Wednesday morning, January 12, reports of a coup in Tunisia spread like wildfire on Twitter.  At approximately 5:10am CET, Wessim Amara (@wes_m) was amongst the first to tweet:

"Phone confirmation that the army has surrounded the ministry of interior #coup #tunisia #zaba"

Following the tweets of @wes_m and others, the Twitter stream became filled with news of a rumored coup

[...]

In the end, however, the reports of a coup were false; Nasser Weddady (@weddady), whose report of a possible coup had quickly become a Top Tweet, apologized, noting:

the rumor of a coup today is the answer to what people really want.

Mark.

13 years 5 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Mark. on January 12, 2011

On the alasbarricadas thread

pretextat_tach

Ey, qué de información en español sobre lo de Túnez, qué guay

Yo no tengo mucho que aportar, pero he hablado esta mañana con gente que está viviendo las revueltas allí en directo, en el desierto al Sur de Túnez (concretamente en Tozeur) y me han comentado que el gobierno dio ayer toque de queda, que se han extendido las manifestaciones a más ciudades, que hay un montón de gente en la calle manifestando, quemando bancos y supermercados y que se ve muchísima solidaridad por parte de todxs (lxs que no se atreven a salir a la calle, salen a los balcones a tirarle alimento, tabaco y agua a lxs manifestantes y cosas así..). A ver que mas va saliendo por aquí...

Salud!

Mark.

13 years 5 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Mark. on January 12, 2011

Tweetin' bout a revolution

I have spent a lot of time over the last few days following the Tunisian uprising on Twitter. With reporting on the ground severely curtailed by the authorities, with the western media slow to catch on to the significance of the events, and the Arab media – with a few rare exceptions such as al-Jazeera – nervously wondering what they can safely say, Twitter has become the first port of call for information.

Follow the hashtag #sidibouzid (after the town where the uprising started) and you'll find a jumbled collection of tweets in French, Arabic and English. At first it all looks very chaotic but, after a while, you start to recognise whose tweets are worth taking seriously and whose are not.

Where tweeters provide links, you can jump off to other places on the internet and often find confirmation of what they say: grainy videos of riots and demonstrations, and the dead and dying in hospitals. The Tunisian uprising may be under-reported, but it is not going unrecorded.

The discourse about Tunisia on Twitter is unlike any you would find in the mainstream Arab media where journalists, for the most part, are heavily constrained and constantly looking over their shoulders. It's free and uninhibited, much more like a private conversation among friends in some smoke-filled shisha cafe – except that it's happening on the internet and the whole world can listen in.

In a cafe conversation, of course, people say things off the top of their heads and mix fact with rumour and gossip. Normally, that wouldn't matter much, but because the Tunisia conversation has become such an important source of information – by default rather than design – here it matters rather a lot.

Last night, some of the Tunisia tweeters found themselves in the situation that journalists dread: getting a story seriously wrong. A rumour went round that the army had seized power and ousted the president. This was swiftly retweeted and also picked up by one or two bloggers.

Since then, there has been no confirmation and the coup story appears to be untrue – probably a case of people being too eager to believe the rumours they want to believe.

This morning, the over-hasty tweeters are licking their wounds and their mistake will no doubt fuel the argument that Twitter, and citizen journalism more generally, is unreliable as a source of information.

But it's not quite as simple as that. Unreliable in comparison to what? If you read the Tunisian newspapers and nothing else, you would scarcely be aware that an uprising is taking place. The country's citizen journalists, on the other hand, have been providing a much more complete picture.

Another point to keep in mind is that tweeters may get things wrong, but they are rarely wrong for long. Other tweeters can challenge them, often within minutes.

The beauty of Twitter and other social media is that they are largely self-correcting. The coup story was disputed and, before long, a consensus had been reached that there was probably nothing in it. The erring tweeters were embarrassed but graciously admitted their mistake. Which is more than can be said for the regime of Zine el Abidine Ben Ali.

Brian Whitaker

ocelot

13 years 5 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by ocelot on January 12, 2011

a few more links

Morning Star - Around 50 killed at Tunisia jobless protests

wsm.ie - Tunisia: The revolution will not be televised

Anarkismo - Protestas en el Norte de África ¿qué está pasando?

Google translate of the last one:

Protests in North Africa What is happening?

Protests against the high cost of living, unemployment and corruption are growing since the end of the year in North Africa, extending both in Tunisia and in Algeria by more and more cities and involving more social sectors, so that the situation in both countries has become extremely unstable, to the concern of the United States and the European Union, the top two international guarantors of the oligarchic political systems that are perpetuated in the Maghreb posing as "buffer state" before the advance of Islamic fundamentalism in the region.

Bouteflika in Algeria and Tunisia Ben Ali (as Mohammed VI in Morocco) are presented to the outside as "strong men" who need a strong hand to subdue and keep out the enemy within, at the cost of plunging to their populations in poverty disciplined and take them under an iron fist, crushing or hindering any attempt to organize most popular or political change, crushing ethnic minorities and promoting the state apparatus through social agencies, unions and related policy to ensure continuity of the system . All with the support or complicity of an "international community" that values, above respect for human rights, have stable partners in the framework of the "war on terror" and with good trading partners.

The immolation of a fruit vendor in the Tunisian town of Sidi Bouzid to protest the injustices of the regime and the lack of prospects in life was the spark that led to a protest movement first in that town and its surroundings and then all over Tunisia demanding a democratic opening and a reversal of anti-popular economic policies dictated by international financial organizations. The population of the coalfields, lawyers, journalists, youth from poor neighborhoods are being the most active and more visible in the protests. The television channel Al-Jazeera and the Internet sites and blogs, despite all the checks and attempts to silence his voice, have become two sources of information and important contact to coordinate and expand a movement trying to hide and minimize the official media, the only ones allowed.

Demonstrations have spread in recent days to neighboring Algeria, which is experiencing a political and social situation very similar. The rise in the price of food and other staples, growing unemployment especially among the youth population and a suffocating system that prevents the expression of popular demands in other ways have led to thousands of people take to the streets in Mass demonstrations have been violently suppressed. The Algerian government faced the situation with the method of stick and carrot, decreeing the one hand the lowering of taxes on commodities and facilitating the import and the other as his Tunisian counterpart, blood and fire to repress the protests, threatening to bring down the full weight of the law against their leaders and ensuring, in a nod to its international backers, all due to a hand in the darkness that wants to destabilize the country, referring to the jihadist threat. Algeria, as well as being a stronghold in the fight against the spread of Islamic fundamentalism in the Maghreb, is a major exporter of gas and a key player in Europe's energy supply.

It is critical that we are able to disseminate and support the most effective way the struggle of peoples in North Africa. The best way to stop the spread of fundamentalism in the region is not encouraging corrupt governments, oligarchies and faithful followers of the IMF's austerity policies, what exactly do win auditorium fundamentalist discourse among the neglected social sectors, but promoting structural changes in fund in economic and social policies that raise the standard of living of the masses, promote its political involvement, regardless of class and increase control over the rich natural resources of the region.

It is clear that this policy does not promote an "international community" whose interests go through the "good political climate" for their investments and control and a cheap supply of strategic raw materials for many Western states.

The only ones who can open the way for a secular Maghreb with genuine democracy and social justice movements are born from the womb of the oppressed classes and articulate their interests, giving a relentless battle against the scourge that blights. Secure our ties with them.

Manu Garcia
January 10, 2011

ocelot

13 years 5 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by ocelot on January 12, 2011

actually the wikileaks 2009 cable on Tunisia http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/us-embassy-cables-documents/217138 has some quite quotable bits for article writers:

Tunisia is a police state, with little freedom of expression or association, and serious human rights problems.
[...]
The problem is clear: Tunisia has been ruled by the same president for 22 years. He has no successor. And, while President Ben Ali deserves credit for continuing many of the progressive policies of President Bourguiba, he and his regime have lost touch with the Tunisian people. They tolerate no advice or criticism, whether domestic or international. Increasingly, they rely on the police for control and focus on preserving power. And, corruption in the inner circle is growing. Even average Tunisians are now keenly aware of it, and the chorus of complaints is rising. Tunisians intensely dislike, even hate, First Lady Leila Trabelsi and her family. In private, regime opponents mock her; even those close to the government express dismay at her reported behavior. Meanwhile, anger is growing at Tunisia's high unemployment and regional inequities. As a consequence, the risks to the regime's long-term stability are increasing.
[...]
Notwithstanding the frustrations of doing business here, we cannot write off Tunisia. We have too much at stake. We have an interest in preventing al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb and other extremist groups from establishing a foothold here. We have an interest in keeping the Tunisian military professional and neutral.

Mark.

13 years 5 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Mark. on January 12, 2011

Events in Tunisia, January 12

The regime is clinging on and making some minor concessions which are probably far too late. The security crackdown is obviously placing huge demands on the police and military. In a trial of strength, can the protesters stretch them to breaking point? Maybe the endgame is approaching but the big question is how it can be brought to a conclusion.



A brief summary of reported events in Tunisia on Wednesday:

• Interior minister, Rafik Belhaj Kacem, dismissed; replaced by Ahmed Fria, former communications minister.

• Prime minister announces release [not confirmed] of all those arrested during recent events except those involved in looting and burning.

• President sets up committee of inquiry into abuses during recent events, plus a second committee to look into corruption (!) and mistakes by some officials. 

• Both houses of parliament to meet Thursday to discuss (surely, "approve") president's decisions.

• Stock market falls again.

Massive demonstration in Sfax, followed by tear gas.

Hatem Bettahar, assistant professor (said to be a French citizen) shot dead – apparently by a government sniper in Douz.

• Protests in Hammamet (important tourist destination). One or more dead; police station burned.

• Ruling party headquarters in Dar Chaabane (Nabeul) on fire

• Army increasingly visible on the streets of Tunis and other cities.

• President Ben Ali should have created 810 new jobs by now, in line with Monday's promise of an extra 300,000 jobs over two years.

• Hamma Hammami, Communist Party spokesman, arrested.

• Former political prisoner Lamari Ahmed arrested.

• Abdelwahhab Maatar, lawyer for rapper El Général, reportedly arrested.

• Headquarters of ruling party in Sfax said to be on fire.

• Curfew declared in Tunis and suburbs from 8pm tonight until 5.30am tomorrow. Air France/KLM cancel late-night flight from Paris to Tunis.

• Some of presidential family reportedly arrive in Canada.

Brian Whitaker, 12 Jan 2011

Mark.

13 years 5 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Mark. on January 12, 2011

Recently on twitter (claims may be unconfirmed)

DAY 27 of Tunisian Uprising is stronger than ever. Protests have spread virtually everywhere in the country, North to South

Day 27 of Tunisian Uprising: 2 dead in Tuzer, 1 dead in Sfax, 2 dead in Hammamat, 3 dead in Dar Shaaban, 15 injured in Nabel

General strike in Sousse http://www.facebook.com/video/video.php?v=171171672926155

BBC News - tunisia imposes curfew in Tunis to quell protests http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-12175959

The Sick Man of the Middle East: Is tunisia 's strongman president about to fall? http://bit.ly/gP4HuV

According to @viagramoniak, chaos reigns in Marsa (Tunis) - gun shots, car alarms, cries & shouts

Can anyone check this? RT @shackow: RT @SBZ_news: Bezert sees violent clashes btw police & protestors-city out of control

Report: According to a witness from Nabeul there are 15 injured and 4 of them are in a critical condition

A women was killed in Dar Chaabane when cops opened fire on the crowds #SidiBouzid http://www.facebook.com/video/video.php?v=171194292923893 

Report of rioters defying curfew in Tunis suburb of Soukra. If true, very bad news for Ben Ali

[Video] Massive march of protest in Hammamet 12/01/2011 - http://goo.gl/tD6K3

Right now in Slimane(in the capital) #SidiBouzid http://fb.me/Qw9OtTGo

Video reportedly of Professor Hatem Bettaher of the University in Gabes after he was killed http://goo.gl/ZPa1l

Traditional Media Abandon Tunisia to Twitter, YouTube by @curthopkins http://t.co/tJq6Ehf

video [GRAPHIC]: today in Douz (South) protester shot dead by police #sidibouzid الشهيد حاتم بن طاهر أستاذ بجامعة قابس http://bit.ly/eDuH2x

"Tunisians Document Protests Online" http://nyti.ms/hDdwFn | #SidiBouzid | (blogs.nytimes.com)

Tomorrow protest in front of Tunisian Embassy in #London near South Kensington

REUTERS: Tunisian people shout slogans as they demonstrate against President Ben Ali in Marseille. #SidiBouzid http://twitpic.com/3pgk23

Tomorrow: Solidarity stand in Amman, #Jordan with #Sidibouzid http://on.fb.me/fF1vZC

IFJ Backs Journalists Strike against Violence and Press Gag in Tunisia | AidNews - http://goo.gl/uTz0p

#Tunisia finally fixture on NYTimes.com frontpage: Mayhem Spreads in Tunisia - Curfew Decreed http://nyti.ms/eSYQoS #Sidibouzid 

New Tunisia Update: Z:a woman is killed by sniper tonight in Nabeul http://liveword.ca/go/7f

Rightnow a clash in Hammam Chott(Ben Arous Gov) between police and protesters

News of death of #Tunisia actor Faraj Attiya by police fire circulating widely. No Evidence to confirm em yet.

Mark.

13 years 5 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Mark. on January 12, 2011

Tunisia imposes curfew in capital (Al Jazeera)

A dusk-to-dawn curfew has been called in Tunisia's capital after rioters demanding action on food prices and unemployment brought their protests to the heart of the city.



The army deployed armoured vehicles around Tunis on Wednesday as the government sought to put a lid on the unrest which has left at least 20 people dead across the country.



The Tunisian president sacked Rafik Belhaj Kacem, his interior minister, on Wednesday after he was widely criticised for its ruthless response to the protests.



However, the measures did little to immediately calm the situation as hundreds of protesters hurled stones at police at a key intersection in Tunis. Officers responded with volleys of tear gas, driving the protesters to disperse into adjoining streets. Stores in the area were shuttered.



It was not immediately clear whether there were any injuries or arrests. Two army vehicles were posted at the intersection, which is close to the French embassy.

In another neighbourhood in central Tunis, hundreds of protesters tried to reach the regional governor's office but were blocked by riot police. And at the main national union headquarters, police surrounded protesters who tried to break out. Tensions also erupted along the edges of the capital.



The interior ministry ordered the curfew from 8pm (1900 GMT) to 5:30am on Thursday, citing "disturbances, pillaging and attacks against people and property which have occurred in some districts of the city".



Tunis had been spared the protests that began in mid-December, and turned violent in the west of the country at the weekend when security forces opened fire on demonstrators, until Tuesday when rioters attacked a local government office in the Cite Ettadhamen quarter...

Mark.

13 years 5 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Mark. on January 12, 2011

Five more killed in Tunisia clashes

Five people were killed in renewed clashes in Tunisia on Wednesday, witnesses said, and protesters fought with police in the capital in defiance of a curfew aimed at stemming the worst unrest in decades.

[…]

In the Sahara desert town of Douz, three witnesses told Reuters at least four people had been killed when police opened fire, including one university professor.

Two witnesses told Reuters that police in the town of Thala, scene of fatal shootings at the weekend, fired teargas to try to disperse a crowd of people but when that had no effect they opened fire, killing 23-year-old Wajdi Sayhi.

The victim was deaf, said his brother, Ramzi.

"The police told him to go home but he heard nothing, and they fired towards him," he told Reuters by telephone. "They (the government) promised us and promised us and now they have promised us death," he said.

[…]

The government declared a nightly curfew for Tunis and surrounding suburbs from 8 p.m. (1900) until 6 a.m., saying it was in response to violence.

When the curfew fell in the El Omran neighbourhood on the outskirts of the city, hundreds of youths who had been throwing stones at police carried on, a Reuters reporter at the scene.

He said police responded with tear gas and by firing into the air. The youths had earlier set fire to a bank branch...

Mark.

13 years 5 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Mark. on January 13, 2011

Recently on twitter

Flamethrowers to stamp down the protesters !!! http://www.facebook.com/video/video.php?v=171233806253275

Video: Hammamet, clashes between police and protesters http://post.ly/1Tmh1

Update #OpTunisia: A : Hammamet Body being carried down the street, protester... http://liveword.ca/go/a3

video: Beja (North) today باجة اليوم #sidibouzid http://post.ly/1TmHL

Douz today's protest "No to Ben Ali" http://post.ly/1Tlss

video: Sousse today, protesters demanding the release of all prisoners http://post.ly/1Tlof

Night protest in Mahdia http://post.ly/1TkZB

Whoops the police cop disappeared http://fb.me/Pul2MvUT

Crise de liquidités des banques tunisiennes http://bit.ly/i6tLs4

I URGE LONDONERS TO BE OUTSIDE THE TUNISIAN EMBASSY TOMORROW 5-30pm @TunisiaTrends please RT #SIDIBOUZID #jasminrevolt

Mark.

13 years 5 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Mark. on January 13, 2011

[youtube]GOtLPwj-Fzs[/youtube]

Khawaga

13 years 5 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Khawaga on January 13, 2011

This is an op-ed written by a friend of mine. He mentions that there have been strikes promised by syndicates (in North Africa syndicates are professional trades such as journalists, lawyers, doctors, engineers and so on).

Issandr El Amrani

As I write these lines, a 7pm curfew has been imposed in Tunis, perhaps the clearest sign thus far that the wave of protests and discontent that has taken over Tunisia since 17 December is not about to end.

I have spent the day following the scraps of news that come out of social networks and websites, being directed to the temporary websites where Tunisian online activists are storing videos of the protests--video-sharing sites are quickly blocked by Tunisian authorities and hence must change all the time. I spoke to a well-to-do young Tunisian from a prominent family who has effectively decided to give up what would have been a life of privilege by siding with the protesters and denouncing the corruption of the ruling family.

I read the sometimes deeply eloquent, sometimes quite hilarious responses to the speech that Tunisian President Zein al-Abideen Ben Ali delivered on Monday, in which he missed the opportunity to calm the situation by insinuating that demonstrators were foreign agents, promising the creation of 300,000 jobs in two years (that’s 17 new jobs every hour!) for unemployed graduates and thanking Libyan leader Muammar al-Qadhafi for offering to make it easier for Tunisians to go work in Libya.

There are strong rumors that the chief of staff of the army has just been dismissed for calling on police officers not to shoot protesters with live bullets (as they did over the weekend, claiming at least 35 victims and wounding many more). Other rumors circulating include that criminals have been released from prison to be used as hired hands against protesters, as several days of general strikes by various professional syndicates have been announced.

Schools and universities have been closed until further notice. The Tunisian stock market reached its lowest point in months today, as police beat up lawyers and artists that planned to stage a peaceful protest. Hotels that are normally full of Europeans fleeing the bitter winter are apparently empty, and in any case a stroll down Tunis’s Avenue Habib Bourguiba would be impeded by the numerous security troops.

I watched videos of demonstrators in poor towns in central Tunisia, for the first time since Ben Ali became president in 1987 in a coup, tear down portraits of their ruler and burn them, all the while chanting against the obscene corruption of his wife Leila Trabelsi and her family.

I have not been to Tunisia since 2003, in good part because after that trip--despite meeting some charming people--I never wanted to return. Having traveled to many Arab countries, I am no stranger to heavy security states and ubiquitous informants. But even Syria under Hafez al-Assad seemed freer and more relaxed than Tunis, where I was constantly followed and warned about leaving my laptop in my hotel room. Most shocking of all was the palpable fear one felt among ordinary people, a resignation that went far beyond being careful when discussing politics. It was a capitulation.

Tunisia may be, by the region’s standards, a relatively prosperous country with a sizeable middle class and decent education levels. But it’s supposed “economic miracle” (not so miraculous when ones considers how regime cronies control much of the country’s economic fabric) is in actuality a human nightmare. One felt stuck in a Hitchcock film, permanently assailed by a creeping sense of dread and unease.

The Tunisian regime has already lost more than power: it has lost legitimacy, and its demise is probably now merely a matter of time. Ben Ali’s rule has destroyed Tunisia’s political fabric and heavily damaged that of its civil society. This is why he could not see the warning signs that made his country, supposedly North Africa’s best model, turn against him. Without real politics--political leaders who can genuinely claim to represent people--there was no one to tell him what was happening, and no one with the moral authority to end the protests once they started. And now, it seems, the only means at his disposal to end the protests is repression and brutality.

That could work for a while. It may even work for several years, until Ben Ali is too old to rule. But it appears doubtful that the Ben Ali system will survive beyond the man.

There is an important lesson to learn for Tunisia’s neighbors, or indeed any ruler tempted by the illusion that growth alone can create a sound economic environment. Politics is not something distinct from economics, it is the mechanism by which an economy and a society is regulated. All the countries in North Africa have seen increasing income disparities, social frustration brought about by economic reforms and high-profile corruption among ruling elites. All of them feature political classes--from ministers to elected representatives--that generally can boast of little popularity or representativeness. All of them have young populations deeply frustrated by the status quo that are looking attentively at the Tunisian uprising.

If Tunisia’s lesson is lost on regimes, it won’t be lost on the people.

http://www.almasryalyoum.com/en/opinion/tunisia-warning-sign-arab-regimes

ocelot

13 years 5 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by ocelot on January 13, 2011

US State Dept. is really cranking it up to 11 on this one.

From the AFP yesterday (today only available thru secondary reporters like Hurriyet and Al Ahram, direct AFP story seems to have disappeared from news.google.x )

"We are not taking sides" regarding the deadly clashes between protesters and government forces in Tunisia, US State Secretary Hillary Clinton said according to an English-language transcript of an interview with Al-Arabiya television, received by AFP on Wednesday.

"But we are saying we hope that there can be a peaceful resolution. And I hope that the Tunisian government can bring that about," she said.

Tunisia's foreign ministry had summoned US ambassador Gordon Gray on Monday after the State Department expressed concerns about "reports of the use of excessive force by the government of Tunisia" against demonstrators.

"We regret that because, obviously, we have got a lot of very positive aspects of our relationship with Tunisia," said Clinton.

"What the ambassador and what the State Department back in Washington did was just express concern that this is a protest that has, unfortunately, provoked such a reaction from the government, leading to the deaths of mostly young people who were protesting," she added.

Ahram online

not sure if that Mrs. Clinton is anyway related to this Mrs. Clinton reported today:

Clinton Blasts Arab Governments on Reforms

DOHA, Qatar—U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton blasted Arab governments for corruption and stalled political reforms Thursday and warned that extremist groups were exploiting this lack of democratic development to promote radical agendas in the Middle East and North Africa.

Mrs. Clinton said the situation is exacerbated by the large population of young people in the region, who she said were finding few jobs or channels through which to express their aspirations. If left unaddressed, this issue could set the stage for more violence and conflict, she said.

"While some countries have made great strides in governance, in many others, people have grown tired of corrupt institutions and a stagnant political order," Mrs. Clinton told the Forum of the Future, a regional conference established to promote democracy and good governance. "The region's foundations are sinking into the sand."

The U.S. secretary of state added: "If leaders don't offer a positive vision and give young people meaningful ways to contribute, others will fill the vacuum… Extremist elements, terrorist groups and others who would prey off desperation and poverty are already out there appealing for allegiance and competing for influence."

WSJ

But apparently the US coverage is more interested in her remark about Jared Loughner being an "extremist" (shock, horror, outrage!) and, oh yeah, some apparently hilarious footage of her tripping over on her way onto the plane. Go Team USA!

Meanwhile, on Tunisia itself, we have the following gem from that bastion of self-regarding US liberal intellectualism, the New York Times:

Tunisia is in some ways the most European country of North Africa. It boasts a relatively large middle class, liberal social norms, broad gender equality and welcoming Mediterranean beaches.

pass the sick bag...

edit: just found this, the official US State Dept. transcript of that Clinton Al Arabiya interview - v. quotable:

http://www.state.gov/secretary/rm/2011/01/154295.htm

Rob Ray

13 years 5 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Rob Ray on January 13, 2011

The guy who posted the flamethrower vid (can't tell what it is exactly cos of the dark/distance but definitely not mollies or gas cans exploding) actually seems to have a good line going on related vids: http://www.facebook.com/video/video.php?v=171233806253275#!/video/?id=174905639212943

Mark.

13 years 5 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Mark. on January 13, 2011

[youtube]Fz_c5141KRs[/youtube]

Mark.

13 years 5 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Mark. on January 13, 2011

Tunisia's youth finally has revolution on its mind

I am part of the new generation that has lived in Tunisia under the absolute rule of President Ben Ali.

In high school and college, we are always afraid to talk politics: "There are reporters everywhere," we are told. Nobody dares discussing politics in public; everyone is suspicious. Your neighbour, your friend, your grocer might be Ben Ali's informer: do you or your father want to be forcibly taken to an undefined place one night at 4am?

We grow up with this fear of activism; we continue studying, going out and partying, regardless of politics.

During high school, we begin to find out the intricacies of the "royal" family and hear stories here and there – about a relative of Leila [Trabelsi, the president's wife] who took control of an industry, who has appropriated the land of another person, who dealt with the Italian mafia. We talk and discuss it among ourselves – everybody is aware of what's going on, but there is no action. We quickly learn that Tunisian television is the worst television that exists. Everything is relayed to the glory of President Ben Ali, who's always shown at his best. We all know he dyes his hair black. Nobody likes his wife, who has a wooden smile: she never seemed sincere.

We do not live, but we think we do. We want to believe that all is well since we are part of the middle class, but we know that if the cafes are packed during the day, it is because the unemployed are there discussing football. The first nightclubs open their doors and we begin to go out, to drink and enjoy the nightlife around Sousse and Hammamet. Other stories are circulating – about a Trabelsi who gave someone a horrible kicking because he felt like it, or another who caused a car accident only to return home to sleep. We exchange stories, quietly, quickly. In our own way, it is a form of vengeance: by gossiping, we have the feeling we're plotting.

The police are afraid: if you tell them you're close to Ben Ali all doors open, hotels offer their best rooms, parking becomes free, traffic laws disappear.

The internet is blocked, and censored pages are referred to as pages "not found" – as if they had never existed. Schoolchildren are exchanging proxies and the word becomes cult: "You got a proxy that works?"

We all know that Leila has tried to sell a Tunisian island, that she wants to close the American school in Tunis to promote her own school – as I said, stories are circulating. Over the internet and under the desks, we exchange "La régente de Carthage" [a controversial book about the role of Leila Trabelsi and her family in Tunisia]. We love our country and we want things to change, but there is no organised movement: the tribe is willing, but the leader is missing.

The corruption, the bribes – we simply want to leave. We begin to apply to study in France, or Canada. It is cowardice, and we know it. Leaving the country to "the rest of them". We go to France and forget, then come back for the holidays. Tunisia? It is the beaches of Sousse and Hammamet, the nightclubs and restaurants. A giant ClubMed.

And then, WikiLeaks reveals what everyone was whispering. And then, a young man immolates himself. And then, 20 Tunisians are killed in one day.

And for the first time, we see the opportunity to rebel, to take revenge on the "royal" family who has taken everything, to overturn the established order that has accompanied our youth. An educated youth, which is tired and ready to sacrifice all the symbols of the former autocratic Tunisia with a new revolution: the Jasmin Revolution – the true one.

• This article was originally published in French on nawaat.org

Mark.

13 years 5 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Mark. on January 13, 2011

From the comments for the article above

There will be a peaceful protest this Saturday the 15th of January at 11 am in front of the Tunisian Embassy on London.


Please come to show you support to innocent Tunisians dying as we speak.

Mark.

13 years 5 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Mark. on January 13, 2011

BERN, Switzerland - The Swiss Foreign Ministry says a Swiss woman has been killed during unrest in the north of Tunisia.

The ministry said Thursday the woman was a Swiss-Tunisian dual-citizen.

Swiss radio reports that the woman was killed by a stray bullet while watching a demonstration late Wednesday.

Mark.

13 years 5 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Mark. on January 13, 2011

Protesters shot dead as angry crowds defy Tunis curfew

At least four people were killed in Tunisia in overnight clashes between police and young demonstrators, an opposition politician and a union leader have said.

The latest deaths around Tunis, and Bizerte to the north, happened as protesters defied a government-ordered curfew...

A nightly curfew in Tunis and the surrounding suburbs was introduced yesterday but failed to prevent crowds in at least two neighbourhoods ransacking buildings and throwing stones at police, who responded with teargas and gunshots into the air.

A resident of the working class Ettadamen suburb of Tunis, 25-year-old Mejdi Nasri, died after being shot in the head in the clashes, according to two witnesses and his cousin...

Rob Ray

13 years 5 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Rob Ray on January 13, 2011

This violence is unacceptable. The perpetrators must be identified and brought before the courts,” said a spokeswoman for EU foreign affairs chief Catherine Ashton. “And we cannot accept the disproportionate use of force by the police against peaceful demonstrators."

Suggests a very mixed view from the EU, I can't see them backing Ali if things continue to go south for him - hint to elements of the regime that they need to find a new chief?

Mark.

13 years 5 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Mark. on January 13, 2011

Deaths in Tunisia despite curfew

At least six people have been killed in renewed clashes in Tunisia, in spite of a dusk-to-dawn curfew in the capital, Tunis, and surrounding suburbs.

Clashes erupted early on Thursday in the district of al-Kerm, north of Tunis, witnesses told Al Jazeera. Those killed include three people in the town of Menzel Bourguiba, one person in Bizerte, and one person in Tataouine.

Eye witnesses also said that a sixth person was killed in the capital after a curfew was imposed. There have also been violent clashes with police reported in Douz.

Sources told Al Jazeera that protesters chanted anti regime slogans in several Tunisian cities, including Bizerte, Sidi Bouzid and Kairouan...

Sporadic gunfire rung out overnight outside Tunish, indicating youths had defied the curfew order from Zine El Abidine Ben Ali's government…

Mark.

13 years 5 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Mark. on January 13, 2011

Tunisia liveblog: concession or confrontation? (updated through the day)

1400 GMT: Reports and photos are circulating of the death of Omar Bel Haj, 19, in Sfax yesterday.

1350 GMT: In addition to the confirmed death of a Swiss-Tunisian woman (see 1330 GMT), opposition politician, a union leader, and witnesses say at least four other people were killed last night. One of the dead was named as Mejdi Nasri, 25, a resident of the working-class Ettadamen suburb of Tunis.

The deaths occurred around Tunis and in Bizerte to the north.

Witnesses also say that about 10,000 people are marching today in Sidi Bouzid, where the current wave of protests started almost a month ago.

1340 GMT: Since the mainstream media is now buzzing about social media and its role in recent events, here's a fact: 18.6% of Tunisia's population use Facebook, a higher rate than in Germany.

1335 GMT: The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, has called on the Tunisian Government to investigate police killings of civilians and has expressed concern that activists were being arrested and tortured.

Pillay said, "We are trying to verify the number killed. Human rights organizations report almost 40 killed. So clearly that is a result of some excessive measures used, such as snipers, the indiscriminate killing of peaceful protesters."

1330 GMT: The Swiss foreign ministry has confirmed that a Swiss-Tunisian dual national was killed on Wednesday night.

The woman, aged 67, was hit by a stray bullet while watching a demonstration in the town of Dar Chaabane in northern Tunisia...

0730 GMT: Wednesday was a frenetic, shifting 24 hours in Tunisia. It began with overnight demonstrations in the suburbs of Tunis, moved to a mix of Government statements, military manoevures, and mass displays of protests, and ended with stories of a curfew broken by hundreds of youths in the capital.

So where is Tunisia now? The Government's unexpected political move, with the replacement of the Minister of Interior and promises to release detainees and investigate corruption, was twinned with a show of force, as military units established a high-visibility presence in the cities, including Tunis.

Yet all of this was supplanted later in the day by a set of images coming out of Sfax, the second-largest city in Tunisia. Its official population is 400,000, and tens of thousands of them had come out on the streets in a mass rally. The overhead video of the crowd stunned even the most optimistic activist (and, presumably, even the highest-level Government official). This was followed by images of a smoking Government building and, in contrast, of the demonstrators singing the National Anthem.

The general strike and demonstration in Sfax was only part, however, of what is intended to be three days of stoppages and protests, culminating in Tunis on Friday...

Mark.

13 years 5 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Mark. on January 13, 2011

Recently on twitter

UN calls on Tunisian govt to investigate civilian killings http://english.ahram.org.eg/News/3787.aspx

A lot of shooting going on in Tadhamon (Tunis) according to @Flag_Dark @yadh_boussetta #sidibouzid

Violent clashes in downtown tunis extensive use of tear gas

Paris St. Tunis Police on motorcycles chasing after civilians from diff age groups and pointing guns at them.. to scare them

RT "@bahaakayyali: 3 killed in the last hour in #Tunis #SidiBouzid #Tunisia" 8 minutes ago from Twitter for BlackBerry®

According to @FENNICHE , many corpses arrive to Charles Nicolle hospital in Tunis

Tunisian forces in Manzil Bouzarfa. Shutting down all stores, businesses, gov offices and the weekly market

the funeral of Dr. Hatem BETTAHAR #SidiBouzid http://fb.me/IfFflGoI

look at what the police is doing http://on.fb.me/fZn1ft

Sfax as it was yesterday, hidden by the medias http://tinyurl.com/6aoa9bq

AFP: the student Omar HADAD 19 years old, was shot dead in Sfax 12/01/2011 when he was participating in a protest

Government cancels today all sporting events scheduled in #Tunisia

[Video] Sakher El Materi denies his escape to Montreal : http://tinyurl.com/66lw5us

unknown source just dropped this in Anonymous IRC. I think journalists should read http://bit.ly/gkD7ye

Interesting read! #Tunisia protests fueled by social media networks - http://bit.ly/hmdWXI

You can spot several Tunisian flags among the Jordanian crowd. #SidiBouzid is everywhere now

The president will give a speech in the parliament house at 4 pm

"shooting in downtown #Tunis"

16 morts à Nabeul selon Al Jazeera

Submitted by Mark. on January 13, 2011

Rob Ray

Suggests a very mixed view from the EU, I can't see them backing Ali if things continue to go south for him - hint to elements of the regime that they need to find a new chief?

The army seem to be sitting on the fence at the moment. I've seen no reports of them firing at protestors, unlike the police, although I may have missed something. Early yesterday morning it did sound very much as if a coup was in the offing and it's unsurprising that rumours were flying around on twitter. I'd say it's still a possibility. If this happens one parallel might be Portugal in 1974 when the armed forces finally ditched the regime.

Submitted by ocelot on January 13, 2011

On the army topic - there was a newflash item in le Figaro at 11:27 which claimed that the army had been withdrawn from the streets of Tunis (see here). At around the same time I pretty sure I saw a piece from one of the US outlets (nyt, wsj or wp, can't recall) which said the troops had been withdrawn after a successful curfew had meant a quiet night. That (the quiet night bit) subsequently appears to have been BS - makes one wonder whether that story was put out to explain the withdrawal of the army?

Pure speculation based on probably inaccurate information. What we can say that 22 years of Ben Ali's dictatorship (give or take one or two recent North Korean or Egyptian-style "elections") means that he has made sure that there is no ready-made opposition capable of presenting themselves as a safe pair of hands to the US and EU if they were looking for an alternative management. It may well be that the army is the only place an alternative that might get external backing could come from.

In the meantime, reports are that rioters have stormed and wrecked the beachside pleasure palace of the First Lady's favoured son, the much-hated Mohamed Sakher el-Materi, who was exposed in the recent Wikileaks report (released Dec 7) that added to the furore in Tunisia (see http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/us-embassy-cables-documents/218324)

11. (S) El-Materi's house is spacious, and directly above and along the Hammamet public beach. The compound is large and well guarded by government security. It is close to the center of Hammamet, with a view of the fort and the southern part of the town. The house was recently renovated and includes an infinity pool and a terrace of perhaps 50 meters. While the house is done in a modern style (and largely white), there are ancient artifacts everywhere: Roman columns, frescoes and even a lion's head from which water pours into the pool. El Materi insisted the pieces are real. He hopes to move into his new (and palatial) house in Sidi Bou Said in eight to ten months.

12. (S) The dinner included perhaps a dozen dishes, including fish, steak, turkey, octopus, fish couscous and much more. The quantity was sufficient for a very large number of guests. Before dinner a wide array of small dishes were served, along with three different juices (including Kiwi juice, not normally available here). After dinner, he served ice cream and frozen yoghurt he brought in by plane from Saint Tropez, along with blueberries and raspberries and fresh fruit and chocolate cake. (NB. El Materi and Nesrine had just returned from Saint Tropez on their private jet after two weeks vacation. El Materi was concerned about his American pilot finding a community here. The Ambassador said he would be pleased to invite the pilot to appropriate American community events.)

13. (S) El Materi has a large tiger ("Pasha") on his compound, living in a cage. He acquired it when it was a few weeks old. The tiger consumes four chickens a day.

Tunisian bloggers had satirically called to Free Pasha Now! Tunisie : Libérez Pasha !

from NYT -

HAMMEMET, Tunisia — Protesters swarmed this beachfront tourist destination near the newly restive capital on Thursday, overwhelming the police and ransacking businesses as well as the luxurious mansion of a member of the president’s family.

Social media appeared to play a strong role in organizing the violence, as it has throughout the three weeks of demonstrations and riots that have threatened the government of the authoritarian president, Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali. The unrest spread this week to the capital, Tunis.

Early on Thursday, an Arabic Facebook page called on the people of Tunisia to prepare to sacrifice their blood in Hammemet, where several members of Mr. Ali’s extended family have mansions. The page is named “The People of Tunisia are setting themselves on fire, Mr. President,” a reference to the young unemployed man who set himself on fire last month, setting off the wave of growing unrest.

By midday, hundreds of rioters were rampaging through the streets here, several banks were aflame and police officers huddled defensively, shields raised, around their station.

The rioters marauded through the beachfront mansion of the presidential relative, Safia Trabelsi, pulling out a television and two all-terrain vehicles and setting them aflame. A horse ran free in the mansion’s yard.

Two of the rioters said the police had directed them away from attacking the police station and toward the mansion.

The damage was evidence of deep anger at the great wealth and lavish lifestyle of President Ben Ali’s second wife, Leila Trabelsi, and their extended family, including their son-in-law, the billionaire businessman Mohamed Sakher el-Materi. There have been reports that he has fled to Montreal.

No news of Pasha though...

edit: heh. missed this. For all those of you who doubt the accuracy of web polls, here's the poll archive from the Nawaat blog - Nawaat poll archive

Last poll? opened last October,

Q: "in your opinion, what would be the most appropriate solution to the current political situation in Tunisia?"

1. Revolt
2. Civil Disobediance
3. Negotiate with the regime an agreement for the departure of Ben Ali
4. Start again with building democratic opposition
5. Implore the great architect to stick with it for life

#1 takes it by a mile

Rob Ray

13 years 5 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Rob Ray on January 13, 2011

This is pretty stunning if it's true - a resignation letter from the Foreign Minister has appeared on what appears to be his official website in several languages. Can't tell if it's a real one or a hack job though:

I assumed the fate of the Tunisian citizens, after marrying the daughter of one of Ben Ali’s first cousins, and was a member of the family and part of their clan. I am not proud of my own family, and in an honest declaration, would be ready to be judged in court at the same time as they will be. This will be my last service to the Tunisian citizens, in hope that with my resignation, citizens of Tunisia will be more graceful towards me and my family.

...

I am profoundly convinced that these are not terrorist acts, but citizens exerting their right to strike against a regime who abandoned them for two decades. For this reason, I do not deem myself a member of this oppressing and manipulating government. In a last resort to save face with the international media, the government is working hard from within to portray the protesters as mindless terrorists destroying their country and refusing any peaceful discussion. The government has hired teams of their own police in civilian attire that go around ravaging the suburbs in an effort to spread doubt and disseminate the truth about the tunisian people.

ocelot

13 years 5 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by ocelot on January 13, 2011

BusinessWeek mentions that Al Arabiya has reported Kamel Morjane's resignation, though I can't find a transcript of that report on their site.

Photograph of Mohamed Bouazizi for use in reports, websites or what have you:

http://www.tunisiawatch.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/01/BouaziziMed.jpg

and if anyone can translate arabic, his last posting to his FB page is included in this tribute article.

Mark.

13 years 5 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Mark. on January 13, 2011

Tunisia liveblog: concession or confrontation?

2140 GMT:Comment of the Night via Twitter....

"Just switched to Tunis TV.There is a democratic debate going on.Is this a joke or what? The country turned democratic in one hour."

2040 GMT: The Tunisian authorities have lifted the block on the multimedia site Nawaat and on the video site YouTube and Daily Motion.

It is also reported that the photographic site Flickr and even sites for pornography are now accessible.

2030 GMT: Just to round off the highlights of the President's speech: he also ordered the reduction of bread, milk, and sugar prices.

1914 GMT: Ben Ali says, "We will give freedom to the media and we will put an end to censorship of the Internet. We must find social remedies."

He assures, "This is not a Presidency for life" and asks those who wish to campaign in 2014 to present themselves.

1910 GMT: The main take-away line from Ben Ali's speech: "All Tunisians must oppose these acts of violence. We do not accept that a single drop of Tunisian blood has been spilled."

He continues, "We must put an end to these acts of violence and looting." He is ordering his Minister of Interior to ensure a stop to firing of live ammunition.

1900 GMT: President Ben Ali is now speaking on national television. It is his third speech during the current protests.

He assures, "I understand Tunisians and have understood their political demands. What has been happening hurts me."

1840 GMT: A graphic video has been posted on Facebook claiming to be of a man killed today by gunfire in Zarzis.

There are also claimed videos of gunfire in the streets.

1705 GMT: The Tunisian Foreign Ministry has denied (full statement is not accessible at this point) that Foreign Minister Kamel Morjane has resigned.

1645 GMT: A contact advises EA that the Foreign Minister's website and Twitter account may have been hacked, leading to a fake resignation letter.

1625 GMT: It appears that the Foreign Minister, Kamel Morjane, may have resigned in a letter on his website:

Citizens of the Republic of Tunisia, After witnessing the recent event that our country has been enduring since December17th 2010, I declare my inaptitude [sic] in pursuing my function in a serene and objective environment as intended.

I declare hereby my official resignation from my function as a minister of foreign affairs at the Tunisian government. In a last effort to assume my responsabilities, I am asking the families of the tunisian martyrs to accept my sincere condoleances and my deep regret faced to their common tragedy....

A Twitter account in Marjane's name has also announced the resignation and linked to the website.

1610 GMT: There are unconfirmed reports that an American journalist has been wounded by gunfire and taken to hospital.

1550 GMT: Witnesses have told AFP that police shot dead a demonstrator near the centre of Tunis today. Another demonstrator was seriously wounded --- an unconfirmed report said he also had died.

Claimed footage of the incident (warning: graphic) has been now been posted in our Video Section.

Security forces tried to disperse protesters with tear gas before opening fire.

1445 GMT: The Los Angeles Times reports on a gathering of about 50 Tunisian actors and artists in the Tunis theatre El Teatro to speak out, through plays and songs, about current events: "The republic is in a coma."

1415 GMT: The International Federation for Human Rights claims eight people were killed and more than 50 wounded overnight violence near Tunis.

AFP names two of the victims as Mejdi Nasri (see 1350 GMT) and 24-year-old Malek Habbachi.

Submitted by Mark. on January 13, 2011

Rob Ray

This is pretty stunning if it's true - a resignation letter from the Foreign Minister has appeared on what appears to be his official website in several languages. Can't tell if it's a real one or a hack job though

liveblog

1705 GMT: The Tunisian Foreign Ministry has denied (full statement is not accessible at this point) that Foreign Minister Kamel Morjane has resigned.

1645 GMT: A contact advises EA that the Foreign Minister's website and Twitter account may have been hacked, leading to a fake resignation letter.

1625 GMT: It appears that the Foreign Minister, Kamel Morjane, may have resigned in a letter on his website

Mark.

13 years 5 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Mark. on January 13, 2011

Tunisia: the last days of Ben Ali

Today is exactly four weeks since the start of the Tunisian uprising and I was planning to write another summary of the day's main events. But, honestly, I can't. There's so much going on, so much chaos.

Let me just point to two things which, basically, say it all.

One was the demonstration today in Kairouan. I've been there on holiday and it's not an especially big town. But look at the video: that protest is huge, huge, huge. 

The other is this report from the New York Times: "Tunisia Rioters Overwhelm Police Near Capital". Referring to today's events in Hammamet, it says:

The police on Thursday all but abandoned this exclusive Mediterranean beach town — haven to the capital’s rich and powerful — as rioters calling for the ouster of Tunisia’s authoritarian president swarmed the streets, torched bank offices and ransacked a mansion belonging to one of his relatives.

That is not the only place where the security forces are fighting a losing battle. 

Regional commanders are no doubt bracing themselves to deliver the bad news to President Ben Ali if they haven't already done so: they can no longer cope and the only way to restore order now is through a political solution.

Ben Ali is speaking as I write this. In any normal country it would have been his resignation speech. Instead, he has  promised to stand down in 2014, but the thought in many Tunisians' minds must surely be: why wait till then?

In the meantime, he seems to be offering a bit more freedom and promising to stop shooting demonstrators. But even that seems too late now and, anyway, after 23 years of repression who is going to take him at his word? The Muslim weekend is upon us and, I suspect, many Tunisians will judge that this is the moment to finish him off.

Unless the president has some totally unexpected tricks up his sleeve (which I doubt), he'll be gone well before 2014. If the protests continue on the same scale this weekend, I'd give him about three days.

Brian Whitaker, 13 Jan 2011

Mark.

13 years 5 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Mark. on January 13, 2011

Al Jazeera: Tunisia president not to run again

The Tunisian president has announced in a televised address he will not seek a new term in office.

The announcement by Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, who has been in power since 1987, came amid violent protests across the country over unemployment and rising food prices.

He said he will not seek re-election when his presidency comes to an end in 2014.

"I understand the Tunisians, I understand their demands. I am sad about what is happening now after 50 years of service to the country, military service, all the different posts, 23 years of the presidency," Ben Ali said.

Ben Ali ordered reduction in the prices of bread, milk and sugar, and also instructed security forces to stop using firearms against protesters in his speech on Thursday evening.

Yet despite the president's announcement that live ammunition would not be used, Al Jazeera learned that three more people were killed in Aouina, a suburb of Tunis - less than an hour after the president's speech.

"I couldn't understand because the president just said that they'd stop using live ammunition, but they still shooting people," the witness told Al Jazeera.

The young man said that he heard screaming outside his apartment and discovered that that police had just shot three people. Despite the president's speech, he said the protests and police violence was continuing, as it had the previous night.

[...]

All censorship of the internet and traditional media will be halted, the president said...

ocelot

13 years 5 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by ocelot on January 13, 2011

Channel 4 news appear to have woken up. BBC, ITV, Sky News etc still playing 3 wise monkeys.

Amusingly Channel 4 new's coverage decided that the protests have moved from being simple economic protests, to political protests "spearheaded by the middle class". You can have any revolution you like so long as it's middle class, according to C4 it would seem. :roll:

Mark.

13 years 5 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Mark. on January 13, 2011

Confirmation on twitter that nawaat.org is no longer blocked in Tunisia.

Also on twitter, "General Strike tomorrow confirmed! l'UGTT confirme : Greve Generale demain a Tunis, et manif a 11h !"

Mark.

13 years 5 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Mark. on January 13, 2011

Sounds like it.

Elsewhere on twitter, "Demonstrations across the country, internet blocks are down, the government is panicking. Is the end near in #Tunisia?" and "Police still shooting protestors until now in capital's suburbs...nothing changes but youtube so far!". Also "Right Now (phone call): clashes everywhere Ibn Khaldoun, Intlaka, Kram, Marsa and Khereddine live ammo is still massively used".

Mark.

13 years 5 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Mark. on January 13, 2011

Warning: video includes graphic and harrowing footage

[youtube]hK0BiNNi60s[/youtube]

Mark.

13 years 5 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Mark. on January 14, 2011

Opinion on twitter

Anyone who believes #BenAli's "promises" believes the hollow words of a despot of 23 yrs who'll say anything to cling to power.

Fans of "lie to me" serial, have you noticed Ben Ali's slight smile? So don't miss Tomorrow's demonstration In Tunis.

I'm sure that 50 Tunisians or more did not die just to get YouTube access. The government must make meaningful reforms.

So far basically Ben Ali has lifted censorship off the internet (easy, just a button!). The rest: BIG QUESTION MARK.

We don't want BelAli 2.0, too many bugs, unstable platform!

Ben Ali reaction wasn't for Tunisian people but in response of the criticism of France.

La manif de demain a tunis est super super super super importante,,,, loosing momentum would be the end...

Can't believe what's happening on Tunisia TV. They r debating merits & drawbacks of Ben Ali & his future

Please please watch TV7 so everybody understands that we didn't move a fucking notch ! Don't screw again like in 1987 plz !!!

Tunisian newspaper editor to Al Arabiya TV interviewer "Tomorrow's newsheadlines will not be propaganda for the president".

Once more: Every #Arab leader is watching #Tunisia in fear. Every Arab citizen is watching Tunisia in hope and solidarity.

Submitted by Mark. on January 14, 2011

Mark.

Tunisia's youth finally has revolution on its mind

The following was posted in the comments for this article in response to arguments by Guardian reading trolls that Tunisia is about to turn Islamist.

Thank you Sam for your article, it reminded me of how i lived in Tunisia before I decided to cowardly pack my bags and go abroad for postgraduate studies and to live somewhere where I can speak mind.

Unfortunately those who left are many and are often those who could contribute to build a better and secular Tunisia. but let's say that they are the fortunate as many in Tunisia cant travel at all. Visa restrictions by the west and the lack of economic means or academic diploma. I feel guilty most days for being the one who left instead of fighting for freedom, the rule of law and democracy and I hope that one day I can return to my land. At this moment i feel that that day is may be close.

I want to say to those of you who compare Tunisia with the rest of the Arab and Muslim world do not put apples and pears together they are not the same. you are being unhelpful.

This is a Tunisian whole country protest not for an islamic marxist socialist or western state. this is a protest against a corrupt government. As for Mr Ganouchi [Islamist leader of An Nahdha - Mark] he is not supported in Tunisia and will never be welcomed to power. in fact the marxist Hamami has more support base. in fact these rumours of the islamist taking over is what kept dictators in power for so long. we have to face our fears.

The protest movement is mainly led by the unions and include academics, artists and intellects of whom most of you know nothing. Tunisia is not Iran nor Pakistan or egypt algeria or any other country go and read history if you want to know about it.

I emphasise there is no islamic state as an alternative, the tunisian people want a free state and a life without tyranny and respect for the individual human being.

Mark.

13 years 5 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Mark. on January 14, 2011

Stores left empty as panicked Tunis residents stock up on goods

You could sense the panic in the streets of Tunis on Wednesday morning. As rumours of a curfew spread, people became more and more nervous that they would be blocked in their homes with nothing to eat.
 
I went out to get some groceries and noticed that many salesmen were emptying their shop fronts and lowering their shutters. I tried to speak to several vendors. They were apologetic, saying they had to close shop, but without giving me a reason.

I also saw clothes shops empty their stocks into trucks to before closing to avoid merchandise being stolen. In supermarkets there was a massive rush to stock up on lasting food produce, and shelves were quickly left empty.

I wanted to go to the city centre at around 2pm, but my friends urged me not to. The entire perimeter was cordoned off by police. Security was strongly reinforced after yesterday’s protests. Today there was a demonstration organised by teachers protesting school closures. I heard that it was violently repressed by the army.

Mark.

13 years 5 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Mark. on January 14, 2011

Tunisia, Algeria riots unlikely in Egypt, experts say

Amr Abdel Rahman, an Egyptian political analyst, said he believes there is no risk of spill-over from the Tunisian social movement into Egypt, because “in Tunisia, the revolt has been triggered by middle class, university-educated youth, while in Egypt demonstrations of that scale could only have the urban poor as a basis.”

Choubaki also notes that, “With the exception of the Mahalla textile workers’ demonstration in 2008, Egypt has not witnessed a single massive movement of protest but rather small and scattered gatherings to ask for salary raises or cheaper staples.”

From 2006 to 2008 there have been demonstrations in Egypt led by working class youth, yet, while educated youth supported the movements, they did not participate.

Another important factor that differentiates Egyptian from Tunisian movements is the role of the trade unions. In Tunisia, the major trade unions have managed to keep a margin of freedom from the state apparatus, while accepting some compromises, which has made it possible for the UGTT to call for strikes and support the ongoing demonstrations.

According to Abdel Rahman, “in Tunisia, the official trade union has gained a certain degree of independence, while in Egypt the official trade unions are completely submitted to the state and their main objective is to fragment the social movement instead of mobilizing them.”

Also referring to the Mahalla demonstration that happened in 2008, he stressed that “the Egyptian trade unions fragmented the movement on purpose.” Today, according to Choubaki, the unions have lost their credibility entirely. “Trade unions are dead in Egypt. An official body cannot represent the people and the workers,” he explained.

Khawaga - any thoughts on this?

Mark.

13 years 5 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Mark. on January 14, 2011

On the alasbarricadas thread

pretextat_tach

13 Ene 2011, 16:26

El número de manifestantes muertos va en aumento. La FIDH (Federación Internacional de Derechos Humanos) ya ha identificado 66 muertos durante los disturbios (21 reconocidos oficialmente por el estado).

En Francia se siguen organizando manifestaciones de solidaridad. Este sábado se han convocado en Toulouse y Cahors...

.

14 Ene 2011, 00:56 

Los disturbios han cesado, aparentemente, después de un discurso proclamado por Ben Alí a las 20.00 horas de la tarde en el que promete :

- Ordenar la bajada del precio de los productos de primera necesidad (pan, leche, agua)

- Prohibir que la policía agreda a ningún nuevo ciudadano (" a no ser que alguno intente quitarle el arma a un policía).

- Retirar la censura de los medios (Dailymotion y Youtube han vuelto a estar en funcionamiento y los usuarios han comenzado a hacer circular por la red - en Facebook- el libro "La regencia de Cartago, un libro expresamente prohibido en Túnez) y dar más cancha libre a la oposición (totalmente censurada hasta ahora).

- Mandar formar una Comisión de Servicios que investigue buscando responsabilidades en todas las muertes acaecidas durante las manifestaciones.

- No volver a presentarse a las próximas elecciones y ha asegurado que no cambiara la constitución (según la cual, por excederse en edad, no podría volver a presentarse a estas).

Mientras tanto, mientras el discurso se emitía en directo en la televisión, dos nuevos manifestantes morían a mano de la policía en Kairouan.

Posteriormente, muchos manifestantes han salido a las calles a celebrar las nuevas medidas prometidas en el discurso.

Samotnaf

13 years 5 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Samotnaf on January 14, 2011

Also this solidarity text in French:

Vive la révolte des jeunes prolétaires tunisiens et algériens !
La Tunisie, elle aussi, a subi la crise économique de ces dernières
années. Et c’est sur les masses prolétariennes que, comme dans tous les
pays, développés ou non, les conséquences sont retombées. Les statistiques indiquent que la Tunisie est le pays qui a le revenu par habitant le plus
élevé d’Afrique; mais elles disent aussi que si le chômage est
officiellement de 14% (pour une population de 10 millions d’habitants), il
est en réalité plus proche des 30%, sans compter un vaste sous-emploi, et
touche particulièrement les jeunes. Le régime tunisien est soutenu par les
impérialismes européens parce qu’avec sa répression omniprésente il leur
offre un main d’oeuvre à bon marché et sévèrement contrôlée par la police.
La hausse récente des prix à la consommation est le motif de fond qui a
déclenché les violentes protestations qui, à partir des villes du sud se
sont étendues à tout le pays et jusqu’à la capitale Tunis.
Le 17 décembre la police confisquait dans la ville de Sidi Bouzid la
charrette d’un jeune de 26 ans , diplômé en informatique sans travail,
contraint de faire le marchand ambulant pour vivre, pour défaut de
licence. Désespéré devant la perte de son unique moyen de vivre et de
faire vivre sa famille, Mohamed Bouazizi se faisait brûler devant le
gouvernorat (il mourra de 5 janvier). Indignées, des centaines de
personnes descendirent dans la rue et s’affrontèrent avec la police à
coups de pierre et de bouteilles incendiaires. La police répliqua en
tirant à balles réelles sur les manifestants !
Trois semaines après le début des manifestations il y a plus de 60 morts,
des centaines de blessés, plus de cent arrestations. A la misère, au
chômage, à la faim, le gouvernement du président Zine Ben Ali, solidement
installé au pouvoir depuis 23 ans avec son clan ajoute donc une répression
bestiale. Ce n’est qu’après des semaines de répression passées sous
silence non seulement par les organes de propagande tunisiens, mais aussi
par les médias européens, que Ben Ali a limogé le ministre de l’intérieur,
relâchait certains emprisonnés et promis la création de 300.000 emplois.
Mais il ne s’agit que d’une manœuvre pour calmer la colère et personne ne
croît à ces promesses : les manifestations continuent, de même que la
répression sanglante et la révolte des jeunes gagne maintenant Tunis.
Sidi Bouzid, Kasserine, Thala, Regueb, Feriana, Menassi, Ariana, Mezl
Bouzayane, etc. : ce ne sont pas des lieux touristiques où les touristes
européens vont passer des vacances bon marché ; ce sont les villes où la
police tunisienne assassine pour défendre le pouvoir rapace et corrompu de
Ben Ali !
La protestation prolétarienne, nouvelle «révolte du pain», ne s’est pas
arrêtée ; elle a passé la frontière pour gagner l'Algérie, le pays le plus
riche du Maghreb grâce à son pétrole et son gaz. Comme en Tunisie, la
plupart des villes, Alger y comprise, ont connu des manifestations
violentes de jeunes prolétaires à la suite des hausses brutales des prix
des produits de première nécessité, alors que le chômage est en pleine
augmentation . Là aussi la jeunesse s’est révoltée contre une société qui,
en dépit des énormes rentrées d’argent obtenues par l’exportation des
produits pétroliers, ne lui donne aucune perspective, contre une société
qui ne garantit même plus la survie de ses esclaves salariés !
La police qui tire sur les prolétaires manifestant, y compris violemment,
contre la violence économique et physique à laquelle ils sont soumis en
permanence, voilà l’expression la plus claire de la domination de classe
de la bourgeoisie sur la société toute entière et sur le prolétariat en
particulier. C’est aussi la démonstration que dans cette société
bourgeoise où le capitalisme dicte les conditions de vie et de mort des
masses, la seule force sociale qui a la puissance de tenir tête à ce
pouvoir meurtrier et de finalement l’abattre, est la classe prolétarienne.
Le silence par lequel les médias des grands pays «démocratiques» et
«avancés» d’Europe et d’Amérique ont tenté de cacher la violence et la
répression que ces régimes font régner dans leur pays, est le signe de la
crainte d’une contagion - même aux pays européens où les populations
prolétariennes d’origine immigrée pourraient servir de canal de
transmission de la révolte. Est-ce par hasard que Alliot-Marie, la
ministre française de l’Intérieur, a publiquement proposé à ses homologues
algérien et tunisien le «savoir-faire» français en matière de maintien de
l’ordre ?
La brutalité de la répression, la censure des médias nationaux et la
complicité des organisation syndicales vendues au pouvoir bourgeois
démontrent que les appels des autorités au «dialogue» ne sont qu’une
sinistre farce. Elles démontrent surtout que ce n’est que par la force
qu’on peut répondre à la force, que ce n’est que par l’organisation de la
force prolétarienne que l’on peut répondre à l’organisation de la force
bourgeoise.
Aujourd’hui en Tunisie et en Algérie les courants les plus réactionnaires,
comme les forces religieuses, ne sont pas encore entrée en action. Mais
les prolétaires doivent s’attendre à ce que même les dirigeants qui se
vantent leur défense de la «laïcité» comme en Tunisie, n’hésiteront pas,
si les fusils de la police sont insuffisants pour sauvegarder l’ordre
bourgeois, à recourir à la réaction religieuse, de même qu’ils utiliseront
le mensonge démocratique ou nationaliste – voire à un recours de l’armée
dans le cas où il faudrait déposer Ben Ali.
La bourgeoisie foule toujours aux pieds les «droits démocratiques» qu’elle
inscrit dans ses lois, elle utilise tous les moyens disponibles – des plus
violents aux plus insidieusement pacifiques – pour plier le prolétariat
aux exigences de sa domination de classe, domination politique sociale et
militaire qui lui est indispensable pour exploiter toujours davantage les
prolétaires.
Les prolétaires ont potentiellement la force de vaincre la bourgeoisie, à
condition de rompre avec la politique et les organisations interclassistes
des syndicats et des partis prônant la collaboration des classes, même
s’ils se prétendent «ouvriers», dans le seul but d’empêcher la lutte
prolétarienne contre le capitalisme. Les manifestations de Tunisie et
d’Algérie sont provoquées par les mêmes causes et rencontrent les mêmes
obstacles . Une organisation de défense prolétarienne authentiquement de
classe, en rupture avec les impératifs de la conservation sociale et la
soumission au capital, non seulement organiserait la lutte contre les
mesures antiprolétariennes avec des méthodes de classe – appel à la grève
de tous les catégories de travailleurs, formation de piquets et de comités
pour diriger la lutte, organisation de la défense contre la répression
policière ; elle se lierait aux luttes des prolétaires du pays voisin pour
unifier les grèves, pour renforcer la lutte de défense des conditions de
vie et de travail prolétariens sur le terrain même que la bourgeoisie a
choisi : le terrain de l’affrontement ouvert et violent.
Aujourd’hui ce sont encore une fois les prolétaires des pays au
capitalisme moins développé qui indiquent aux prolétaires des pays plus
riches et donc plus oppresseurs que la voie à suivre n’est pas celle de la
protestation pacifique, légale et impuissante, mais celle de la révolte
contre les injustices et les exactions bourgeoises. Les prolétaires des
pays européens, d’Allemagne, d’Espagne, de France ou d’Italie mais aussi
ceux d’Amérique qui sont les principaux soutiens des Etats maghrébins,
devront se révolter comme leurs frères de classe d’outre-méditerranée ;
ils peuvent leur transmettre l’expérience politique des grandes luttes de
classe du passé.
C’est sur cette voie que les prolétaires pourront reconquérir toute leur
force de classe et redevenir, non plus une vague menace, mais un danger
réel pour le régime d’exploitation capitaliste qu’il leur faudra détruire
à jamais dans le monde entier !
-------
Complicité...
Hier Michèle Alliot Marie disait à l’Assemblée Nationale que "Le
savoir‑faire, reconnu dans le monde entier, de nos forces de sécurité,
permet de régler des situations sécuritaires de ce type. C’est la raison
pour laquelle nous proposons effectivement aux deux pays de permettre dans le cadre de nos coopérations d’agir pour que le droit de manifester puisse se faire en même temps que l’assurance de la sécurité ."
Comment ne pas faire le rapprochement avec une autre annonce de M
Hortefeux il y a un mois à Grenoble, lorsqu’il inaugurait la formation
d’une brigade spéciale d’intervention anti-émeutes, l’UMIR ? Cette unité
de 38 personnes rassemble “pour la première fois” sous un même
commandement des policiers et des gendarmes, elle est composée de six
policiers en civil de la BAC, quinze policiers en tenue de la compagnie
d’intervention, d’une équipe cynophile et de quinze gendarmes. Quand
Hortefeux voyait Grenoble comme un laboratoire de ces nouvelles méthodes,
il faut croire que Michèle Alliot-Marie a vu plus grand et s’est dit que
l’UMIR trouverait en Tunisie un laboratoire idéal.

Samotnaf

13 years 5 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Samotnaf on January 14, 2011

Rough translation of last paragraph (the rest is largely banal) about Michèle Alliot-Marie ( the Minister for Foreign and European Affairs)'s statement concerning Tunisia and Algeria:

Yesterday Michèle Alliot-Marie said to the National Assembly "The expertise, recognised throughout the world, of our security forces, allows us to sort out these kinds of security situations. That's why we are, effectively, proposing to the two countries to permit us, within the framework of mutual co-operation, to take action to assure the right to demonstrate, whilst at the same assuring security".

How can we not make the connection with another announcement by M.Hortefeux (the Minister of the Interior) a month ago in Grenoble when he inaugurated the formation of a special anti-riot brigade, the UMIR? This unit of 38 people brings together, "for the first time" the police and the gendarmes (note: a section of the army used for policing work, not ordinary cops as most people outside France believe) under the same command, it's composed of 6 plain clothed cops from the Brigade Anti-Criminelle, 15 uniformed cops from the intervention company, a team of dog-handlers and 15 gendarmes. When Hortefeux sees Greonoble as a lab for these new methods, you have to believe that Michèle Alliot-Marie has a greater vision and that means that the UMIR will find in Tunisia an ideal laboratory.

Mark.

13 years 5 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Mark. on January 14, 2011

Tunisia: double or quits

In his speech to Tunisians last night, President Ben Ali went for double or quits. Either he has done enough to quell the protests with his offers to stand down in three years, to allow more freedom of expression (with qualifications) and to stop shooting demonstrators (again, with qualifications) or the game is lost. If it fails, he has only one card left: resignation.

Last night, drivers in Tunis could be heard hooting their horns in apparent approval of the president – though there were claims on Twitter that this was not spontaneous but orchestrated by the regime. On the plus side, internet censorship appeared to have been lifted, largely if not totally. On the minus side, there were reports of further shooting, even after the president had ordered it to stop.

This morning, the UGTT (the main trade union) is due to hold a general strike and demonstration in Tunis. It is expected that the ruling party will organise a counter-demonstration and the result could easily be a massive punch-up.

A BBC report says the "opposition" has (cautiously) welcomed the president's promises but opposition politicians are not the same as the protesters on the streets who may well have other ideas. Pledges, even when they are made on television, don't count for much in the Arab countries and ordinary folk treat them very cynically.

But let's suppose, for the sake of argument, that Ben Ali survives this weekend and buys some more time. What then?

First, Tunisia will not revert to what it was. People will be far more outspoken, less inhibited than they were before. The mainstream media may not change much (after all, some of them are owned by Ben Ali's family) but politics will have to open up.

That, in turn, means more danger for Ben Ali. He will obviously try to use the time he has bought to prepare the way for a successor of his own choosing, but it won't be plain sailing. He has made economic promises that he can't deliver and that could blow the whole thing off course.

Meanwhile, there is other unfinished business: calls for inquiries into the shootings, for example, and the promised investigation into corruption. Corruption is a major flashpoint, because there is no way it can be tackled credibly without arresting most of Ben Ali's family.

If he does survive the current uprising his future still looks pretty bleak. At best, he will be what we in the west call a lame duck leader – not at all what the situation demands.

At present, though, all that is still hypothetical. Which way it is going to go will be decided on the streets over the next few days. The ball is back in the protesters' court.

Brian Whitaker, 14 Jan 2011

Mark.

13 years 5 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Mark. on January 14, 2011

On twitter now (claims may be unconfirmed)

From official sources trabelsi family left the country at 3.30 am

Paris lawyer says Tunisian communist Hamma Hammami taken from his home this morn, house ransacked

Some rare honesty: "The most imminent threat to U.S. interests in the ME is not war; it is revolution" http://wapo.st/hLEVQ3

Press freedom : no Tunisian TV is covering the demonstrations happening now

Free Tunisia! Big demonstration now in Tunis!

Pictures from protests in Tunis right now via @Maniftunis http://tumblr.com/xwn19d44ze

Guys, please watch live feed of demo in Tunis against Ben Ali http://fr.justin.tv/jasminrevolt/b/277511505

Thousands of Tunisians are demonstrating outside the Ministry of Interior in the capital, shouting : BEN ALI, LEAVE NOW !

Crowd of 5,000 protests outside Tunisia's interior ministry, demanding president's resignation - Reuters

Tunis now: people sitting in front of the interior ministry chanting "come join us Police!"

BBC is liveblogging #Tunisia http://bbc.in/h4vZwL

1108: The BBC's Adam Mynott in Tunis says: I'm outside the interior ministry and there are extraordinary scenes. Thousands of people have gathered in a public demonstration that could not have taken place in this country 24 hours ago. This is a response to what President Ben Ali said on national television on Thursday, when he said he would allow more freedom of speech. Well, the people here are testing that. I have been told there are 6,000 or 7,000 people here. They are saying that the country now has the opportunity for change. But interestingly, they are saying that change can only happen if President Ben Ali, his extended family and his followers go. The rally is surrounded by dozens of police and soldiers, but crucially they have not so far intervened as they have in recent weeks.

Baderneiro Miseravel

13 years 5 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Baderneiro Miseravel on January 14, 2011

This is really really exciting...thanks for reporting this Mark.!

I've been translating some of the pieces you've been posting here, so people who speak portuguese may know a little bit more and express solidarity. Just letting ya know.

Mark.

13 years 5 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Mark. on January 14, 2011

Thanks Baderneiro - could you post up links to translations? Links to any mainstream media coverage in Portuguese would be interesting too if you have the time.

Mark.

13 years 5 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Mark. on January 14, 2011

I'll have to take a break from updating this until tonight. In the meantime could people post any breaking news that sounds interesting?

liveblog

Baderneiro Miseravel

13 years 5 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Baderneiro Miseravel on January 14, 2011

The one decent translation I published as of now is the communique by the Workers Solidarity Movement:

http://pt.indymedia.org/conteudo/newswire/3415

Here are some links of the coverage here in Brazil, which are mostly short reports and most rather apologetic of the Ben Ali regime, at least until yesterday:

Govermente closes schools and universities:
http://ultimosegundo.ig.com.br/mundo/governo+fecha+escolas+e+universidades+na+tunisia/n1237937497504.html

Tunisian Capital still has confrontations despite curfew:
http://g1.globo.com/mundo/noticia/2011/01/violentos-enfrentamentos-em-tunis-apesar-do-toque-de-recolher.html

Minister is demoted and release of prisoners is announced:
http://ultimosegundo.ig.com.br/mundo/ministro+e+destituido+e+libertacao+de+presos+e+anunciada+na+tunisia/n1237942871941.html

From one of the most reactiory midia channels, "Tunisians celebrate the future leave of President Ben Ali", refering to his promise to leave in 2014:
http://bandnewstv.band.com.br/conteudo.asp?ID=413901

Edit: Found another new worth noticing right here. The media channels here are clearly and fundamentally supporting Ben Ali, at least for now.

http://noticias.terra.com.br/mundo/noticias/0,,OI4889430-EI294,00-Tensao+se+reduz+na+Tunisia+apos+promessas+do+presidente.html

A tensão diminuiu esta noite na Tunísia após o discurso do presidente, Zine al Abidine Ben Ali, que prometeu uma mudança "profunda e completa" no país e garantiu que deixará o poder em 2014, embora tenham registrados alguns protestos em bairros do norte da capital.

(...)

O presidente tunisiano, que lamentou "profundamente ter sido mal informado e aconselhado" em relação aos fatos vividos, prometeu descer os preços dos alimentos básicos e garantir a "liberdade total da informação e do acesso à internet".

Pouco tempo depois do discurso de Ben Ali, a EFE comprovou que vários sites - como Dailymotion e YouTube -, até agora vetados aos tunisianos pelo Governo, estavam novamente acessíveis.

Em outra mostra que as promessas do presidente são sérias, justo após seu discurso a televisão estatal organizou um debate político ao vivo com duas personalidades da oposição independente, algo inédito até o momento no país.

ocelot

13 years 5 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by ocelot on January 14, 2011

Europe 1 (French radio station) did a phone interview with the Foreign Minister Kamel Morjane (he of the hacked website - looks like he wasn't picked entirely at random) this morning (Friday) in which he declares that forming a government of national unity with the (legally-sanctioned) PDP opposition of Mohammed Néjib Chebbi was "doable" even "normal". Chebbi's currently at the front of the demo outside the Interior ministry as reported in the liveblog linked by Mark above.

The words "straws" and "clutching" spring to mind.

AFP
14/01/2011 | Mise à jour : 08:44
Le ministre tunisien des Affaires étrangères, Kamel Morjane, a estimé aujourd'hui sur Europe 1 que la formation dans son pays d'un gouvernement d'union nationale était "tout à fait faisable" et "même normale".

Interrogé par téléphone depuis Paris sur la possibilité d'un gouvernement d'union nationale en Tunisie, le ministre a répondu: "Avec le comportement de gens comme M. Néjib Chebbi, je crois que c'est faisable, c'est même tout à fait normal". Mohammed Néjib Chebbi est le chef historique du Parti démocratique progressiste (PDP), formation légale d'opposition mais non représentée au Parlement.

Figaro

ocelot

13 years 5 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by ocelot on January 14, 2011

The Tunisian ambassador to UNESCO, Mezri Haddad, has stated his resignation on a French TV (BFM-TV) interview at about 1pm GMT.

Plus they've just reported that the cops have opened up on the demo outside the Interior Ministry with CS gas. from journos in situ:

«Les policiers ont été débordés par la foule et des manifestants sont parvenus à escalader la façade du bâtiment pour s'accrocher aux grillages protégeant les fenêtres.

"The police have been overwhelmed by the crowd and demonstrators have managed to scale the facade of the building and grab onto the grills protecting the windows"

le Parisien

ocelot

13 years 5 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by ocelot on January 14, 2011

from Grauniad live updates page

1402: A reporter for the Reuters news agency says gunshots have been heard near the interior ministry building.

1355: Tear-gas canisters have been fired by the security forces at protesters outside the interior ministry, forcing many to flee. The Associated Press reports that the move came after people climbed on top of the ministry's roof.

ocelot

13 years 5 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by ocelot on January 14, 2011

some recent updates from the various live streams:

BBC

1454: Thirteen civilians were shot dead by the security forces in Tunis and its suburbs in clashes on Thursday, medical sources tell the AFP news agency. Reuters meanwhile says 12 died - 10 in the capital and two in the coastal town of Ras Jebel. Tunisian officials have not yet commented. It is not clear if the deaths came after President Ben Ali ordered police to stop using lethal force against demonstrators.[Le Figaro says the killings took place afterwards]

1447: Dubai-based al-Arabiya TV says protesters are trying to "storm" the Central Bank in Tunis. The bank is on Avenue Mohamed V, to the north of the interior ministry.

1435: Emen Binmluka, a 21-year-old protester, tells Reuters: "A bus came with police in it and they started firing tear gas. Women, children and everyone fled."

1426: Protesters have been sent fleeing down Bourguiba Avenue by the volleys of tear gas fired by riot police outside the interior ministry. The Reuters news agency say a crowd of youths have begun retaliating by throwing stones.

Guardian

2.56pm: Here is an AP account of the latest clashes.

Tunisian police fired rounds of tear gas at thousands of protesters in the capital Friday after some climbed atop the roof of the interior ministry, a symbol of the iron-fisted government they want to oust. The demonstrators were marching through Tunis to demand the resignation of the country's autocratic leader, President Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali. Many shouted "Ben Ali, out!" and "Ben Ali, assassin!" Another poster read "We won't forget," a reference to the rioters killed, many by police bullets.

Hundreds of police with shields and riot gear blocked the avenue Friday in front of the interior ministry, where over the years there have been reports of torture. The march was organised by Tunisia's only legal trade union, which also went ahead with a symbolic two-hour strike. Plainclothes policemen were seen kicking unarmed protesters and beating them with batons.

Reuters is reporting that 12 people were killed in overnight clashes in Tunis and the northeastern town of Ras Jebel, citing two medical sources and a witness. Ten of the victims were killed after clashes in the capital, two sources from Charles Nicolle hospital told Reuters.

2.51pm: It would be surprising if Arab leaders are not afraid of the Tunisian example spreading. Reuters is reporting on protests in Jordan.

Food price protests sweeping across North Africa and the Middle East reached Jordan on Friday, when hundreds of protesters chanted slogans against Prime Minister Samir al-Rifai in the southern city of Karak. The peaceful protest was held despite hastily announced government measures to curb commodity and fuel prices. Similar demonstrations were held in three other towns and cities across the country, witnesses said. "We are protesting the policies of the government - high prices and repeated taxation that made the Jordanian people revolt," Tawfiq al-Batoush, a former head of Karak municipality, told Reuters at the protest outside Karak's Al Omari mosque.

2.48pm: Things seem to have taken a serious turn for the worse. Angelique Chrisafis is tweeting: Gunshots are now ringing around us and in the other sidestreets around interior ministry. An earlier tweet from her: Running battles amid extreme violence from police. Protestors being chased onto rooftops. This is turniing very, very bad.

This is very bad news for Ben Ali who must have been hoping that his concessions announced yesterday would calm things down. Instead the protesters seem to have been emboldened.

2.42pm: Some tweeters are lumping Ben Ali together with Hosni Mubarak of Egypt, another long-time ruler in the Arab world. "Mubarak & Ben Ali united in repression. Let the Arab street rise up in unison against the stupid Arab regime," tweets Hisham_G

2.29pm: Reuters says gunshots rang out as police fired teargas to disperse some 8,000 protesters outside the interior ministry in Tunis. The Associated Press says tear gas was fired after demonstrators climbed on to the roof of the building.

le Parisien

15h45. Des blindés de l'armée se sont rapidement déployés devant le ministère de l'Intérieur, alors que des unités anti-émeutes pourchassent des jeunes manifestants dans les escaliers d'immeubles résidentiels et dans un centre commercial, où ils se sont repliés. L'avenue Bourguiba est quasiment déserte.

[NB times in original are GMT+1] 14:45 Army armoured cars are rapidly deployed in front of the Minstry of Interior, while riot squads chase young demonstrators in the stairwells of residential buildings and in a shopping centre, where they have fallen back to. Bourguiba Avenue [main drag] is virtually deserted.

15h35. L'Allemagne appelle à son tour la Tunisie à des réformes durables et solides. «Nous avons suivi avec intérêt les annonces du président Ben Ali. Il est important que ces annonces soient suivies d'un changement concret et qu'elles débouchent sur un processus de réformes durables et solides», a indiqué un porte-parole du ministère des Affaires étrangères allemand.

14:35 Germany in its turn calls on Tunisia for durable and real reforms "We have followed with interest the announcements of president Ben Ali. It is important that these announcements are followed with concrete changes and that they result in a durable and real reform processes" a German Foreign Ministry spokesperson said.

15h20. Des sources médicales annoncent la mort de 13 personnes jeudi soir à Tunis et sa banlieue. «Les corps de trois personnes atteintes par balles ont été transportés à l'hopital du Kram, près de Tunis, et dix autres ont été emmenés à l'hôpital Charles Nicole à Tunis». Sous l'action des forces de l'ordre, le centre de Tunis se vide de la foule et l'avenue Bourguiba reste irrespirable à cause des gaz lacrymogènes. Quelques manifestants lancent des pierres et des chaises et des parasols des terrasses de cafés en direction des policiers.

14:20 Medical sources annouce the death of 13 people Thursday evening in Tunis and its suburbs. "The bodies of three people hit by bullets were transported to the hospital of Karm, near Tunis, and ten others were taken to the Charles Nicole hospital in Tunis". Under the action of the security forces, the centre of Tunis is emptying of the crowd and Bourguiba Avenue is unbreathable due to tear gas. Some demonstrators are throwing stones and the chairs and parasols from the terraces of cafés at the police"

14h50. «Les policiers reprennent possession du centre ville», constate un des deux reporters du Parisien. Des matraquages en règle se déroulent sans que les manifestants évalués à 10 ou 15 000 ne répliquent pour le moment. «Les forces de l'ordre repoussent tout le monde hors du centre ville en remontant l'avenue et les rues adjaçantes et en tirant des gaz lacrymogènes».

13:50 "The police are taking back possession of the city centre" comment two le Parisien reporters. Systematic truncheoning is being carried out without the crowd, estimated at 10 to 15 thousand retaliating at the moment. "The security forces are pushing everybody out of the city centre via the avenue and side streets and shooting tear gas"

ocelot

13 years 5 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by ocelot on January 14, 2011

looks like someone hit the panic button

(bbc)

1521: President Ben Ali has dismissed the government and called legislative elections within six months, the official TAP news agency reports.

edit: more interesting snippets:

16h05. Dans le centre ville, les manifestants ont été dispersés par la police. Devant la gare de Tunis, où près de 2000 personnes sont rassemblées, on assiste à de nouvelle scènes de fraternisation entre militaires et certains manifestants.

15:05 In the city centre, the demonstrators have been dispersed by the police. In front of the Tunis train station, where nearly 2000 people have regrouped, we are witnessing new scenes of fraternisation between the army and certain demonstrators.

Caiman del Barrio

13 years 5 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Caiman del Barrio on January 14, 2011

Govt dismissed, new elections "within 6 months", state of emergency declared:

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/africa/9361546.stm

ocelot

13 years 5 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by ocelot on January 14, 2011

Sheesh. All you have to do is sack your government and every two-bit hack in the business seems to think that's the news story of the moment. ho hum.

Meanwhile back in the city, the struggle continues...

[NB original times CET = GMT+1]

16h50. De violents heurts opposent des groupes de manifestants et des policiers anti-émeutes. Un photographe étranger a été blessé à la tête par un tir de gaz lacrymogène, selon des journalistes de l'AFP sur place.

15:50 Violent clashes between groups of demonstrators and riot cops. A foreign photographer receives a head wound from a fired CS gas pellet, according to AFP journalists in situ

16h45. Une banque, aux abords de la gare, est en train d'être saccagée, selon l'un de nos envoyés spéciaux à Tunis. Depuis la dispersion des manifestants, vers 14h30, l'ambiance est désormais tendue aux abords du centre ville.

15:45 A bank in the vicinity of the train station is being looted, according to le Parisien stringers in Tunis. Since the dispersal of the demonstrators, around 14:30 local time, the atmosphere is tense in the vicinity of the city centre.

16h40. La baisse des prix de produits et de services de première nécessité promise jeudi par le président Ben Ali a été suivie vendredi par la publication d'une liste de 19 de ces produits qui vont du pain au sucre en passant par le gaz à usage domestique dont les prix ont été révisés à la baisse.

15:40 The price decreases of goods and services of basic necessity, promised on Thursday by president Ben Ali has been followed on Friday by the publication of a list of 19 of these products which range from bread to sugar, through domestic gas, whose prices have been revised downwards

16h25. Des groupes se sont reformés sur l'Avenue de Paris, adjacente à l'avenue Bourguiba et des policiers les pourchassent à coup de grenades lacrymogènes. Des manifestants réfugiés dans les immeubles lancent des pierres et de briques en direction des forces de l'ordre, selon une correspondante de l'AFP alors qu'un hélicoptère de l'armée survole la capitale.

14:25 Groups have reformed on Paris Avenue, adjacent to Bourguiba Avenue and police are pusueing them with tear gas grenades. Demostrators who have found refuge in the buildings are throwing stones and bricks onto the police, according to an AFP correspondant while an army helicopter hovers over the capital

... and finally... we knew this was coming

BBC

1617: The government has also warned that "arms will be used" if the orders of the security forces are not obeyed.

1615: Under the terms of the state of emergency, the government has banned any meetings outside of more than three people, according to state television. There will also be a nationwide curfew from 1700 (1600 GMT) until 0700 (0600 GMT).

1604: A state of emergency has been declared "to protect the Tunisian people and their properties on all the soil of the Tunisian Republic", Tunisian TV7 reports.

So state of emergency, army given orders to shoot, 10 minutes to sunset in Tunis. WIll they or won't they? (the army that is). I guess we're about to find out.

Khawaga

13 years 5 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Khawaga on January 14, 2011

Mark.

Khawaga - any thoughts on this?

That analysis is probably right. It won't spread right now. But people will have Tunisia in mind next time riots break out, which could very well happen in the upcoming presidential elections. Folks across the Arab world have now seen that regimes that seems to have existed forever and would exist forever can, if not be brought down, at least shook to its core.

ocelot

13 years 5 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by ocelot on January 14, 2011

Hmm. At 17:30 CET (which is also local time in Tunis) the army seized the airport and Tunisian airspace was declare closed. However the following has just been reported

17.45. «Je peux confirmer que l'armée est à l'aéroport. Les blindés encerclent le site de l'aéroport», a déclaré une source aéroportuaire qui était interrogée sur des rumeurs sur le départ précipité de proches du président Zine El Abidine Ben Ali. «Je n'ai pas d'information sur ça mais une personne s'est introduite par la clôture sur le tarmac et une alerte a été donnée», a-t-elle ajouté.

17.45. "I can confirm that the army is at the airport. Tanks surround the airport site, "said an airport source who was questioned about rumors about the sudden departure of persons close to President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali. "I have no information on that but one person let themselves through the fence onto the tarmac and an alert was raised, " she added.

Un important convoi officiel, composé d'une dizaine de véhicules aux vitres teintées a quitté en trombe le Palais de Carthage, dans la banlieue nord de Tunis, aux alentours de 16 h 50 en direction de l'aéroport de Tunis-Carthage, selon un journaliste tunisien témoin de la scène, qui souhaite conserver l'anonymat et cité par le Monde.fr.

A large official convoy, consisting of a dozen vehicles with tinted windows had stormed out of the Palais de Carthage, a northern suburb of Tunis, at around 16 h 50 towards the Tunis-Carthage airport, according to a Tunisian journalist who witnessed the scene, who wishes to remain anonymous, quoted by le Monde.fr.

Un peu plus tôt dans l'après-midi, deux avions Falcon blancs s'étaient envolés de ce même aéroport de Tunis-Carthage, l'un vers 13H40, l'autre vers 13H50.

Earlier in the afternoon, two White Falcon aircraft had flown from the same airport of Tunis-Carthage, 1:40 p.m. for one, the other around 13:50.

Perhaps the first lady is going on a shopping trip?

State TV says that a major announcement to the people is to be made soon. Teases.

no1

13 years 5 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by no1 on January 14, 2011

If twitter is to be believed, then the army are in control and Ben Ali has been arrested as he tried to flee the country.

ocelot

13 years 5 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by ocelot on January 14, 2011

hahaha you beauty!

1724: Sources tell al-Jazeera TV that the Tunisian security forces have arrested members of Trabelsi family at an airport. Many of the protesters have expressed their anger at the power, wealth and influence of the extended family of President Ben Ali's second wife, Leila Trabelsi. "No, no to the Trabelsis who looted the budget," has been a popular slogan. Many refer to the president's relations simply as "The Family" or "The Mafia", according to the New York Times.

ocelot

13 years 5 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by ocelot on January 14, 2011

of course the downside is that this looks coup-tastic

whoops, missed the previous bit

1719: Mahmoud Ben Romdhane of the opposition Renewal Movement tells BBC World News: "At this moment, according to the latest information that I have, the president it no longer in power and a coup has happened. If this information is true, the answer is clear. He will no longer have the power to decide to accept or refuse [the demands for him to step down]."

radicalgraffiti

13 years 5 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by radicalgraffiti on January 14, 2011

people on twitter are saying Ben Ali has left the country and members of his family have been arrested trying to leave

ocelot

13 years 5 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by ocelot on January 14, 2011

Well we're still in the twilight zone of rumours. I'm not sure what would be better, if they've arrested Ben Ali as well, or allowed him to run like a rat and leave his wife and the rest of the Trabelsi clan behind.

ocelot

13 years 5 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by ocelot on January 14, 2011

Well Ben Ali is definitely out of the country and the army, with the president of the parliament, Fouad Mebazaâ, as frontman.

Steven.

13 years 5 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Steven. on January 14, 2011

Yeah, the president is out, the Prime Minister has taken over:
http://www.guardian.co.uk/global/blog/2011/jan/14/tunisia-wikileaks

according to the Guardian, security forces are still cracking down on demonstrations

Samotnaf

13 years 5 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Samotnaf on January 14, 2011

According to French TV news, the curfew in the capital is being strictly observed - even journalists are frightened of going out to do their reports in the forecourt of their hotels.
"If we want things to stay as they are, things will have to change" (The Leopard).

Submitted by Valeriano Orob… on January 14, 2011

Samotnaf

According to French TV news, the curfew in the capital is being strictly observed - even journalists are frightened of going out to do their reports in the forecourt of their hotels.
"If we want things to stay as they are, things will have to change" (The Leopard).

That's what i'm afraid...However, let's wait a while before showing our ugly, suspicious and fatalistic face (i'm counting myself too here)