Tunisia. January 18, 2021. 600 arrests throughout the country, demonstrations against government and demanding the release of the arrested, attacked by police in the capital and in the city of Sousse.
Originally published by Tunisia Resistant. Image above: Protests in Tunisia on Janaury 15, 2021.
During the night between the 17th and the 18th of January, riots continue and multiply throughout the country, from the north (Bizerte, Tunis, Sousse) to the west and the center (Kef, Siliana, Sbeitla, Gafsa and Sfax). When curfew starts, thousand of people, mainly youth, goes out to the streets, organizing blockade with tires on fire and attacking police and big markets. Especially in the proletarian neighborhood of Ettadhamen in the capital, clashes were very intense last night, as proletarian youth attacked the police with fireworks and stones and police used heavy armored trucks.
In the tenth anniversary of people’s uprising against Ben Ali regime, the new generations still suffer from unemployment and bad life conditions, pushing a big numbers of them to leave the country, searching for a better life in Europe. Mainstream media and politicians in the past few days labelled the angry youth as “vandals” and “criminals,” speaking about a dark hand behind these riots. These are just stupid attempts to criminalize and to confuse the people that after the pandemic are getting in worse life conditions and, after the government decided by decree a 4 days total lockdown starting from the 14th of January (the anniversary of the Ben Ali escape), the people couldn’t stop the anger. Moreover, the aggression against a young shepherd in Siliana and the destroying of a small kiosk owned by a young handicapped woman in the phosphate mine town of Gafsa, both by the police, augmented the protests and the anger and the solidarity from other society sectors and organizations like UGET (Tunisian Students General Union) that issued a statement of full support to night riots and asking their cadres to join protest in order to bring out the government and the reactionaries in the parliament. In Siliana, as in other towns, repression was harsh. In Jelma (Sidi Bouzid region), people scuffled with police, also putting forward two specific problems: the widespread lack of water in the town houses and the extreme delay in accomplishish the work for the local hospital.
The regime widened political repression also to political revolutionary activists and people in general who support the protests by websites, blogs and social medias, such as Houssem el Yousfy and Ahmed Graham, arrested both in Ben Arous (Region of Big Tunis) yesterday. The latter has been put in Mornaguia jail today and a tribunal session has been fixed for next week.
January 18th morning, demonstrations were organized in Tunis and Sousse against Mechichi government and demanding the release of the 600 people and the political militants arrested until now. Slogans were launched, such as “No fear, the streets belong to us,” “Freedom for the arrested,” “Ghannouchi (head of Muslim Brotherhood party of Ennahdha and head of the parliament) serial killer,” “Mechichi/Ghannouchi traitor we come to search for you at daylight,” “They attack our people and they stole our country.” The demonstrations in Tunis and Sousse were both attacked by police, especially in Tunis, where police tried to stop the demonstrators when they reached the central Avenue Bourguiba; after a small confrontation, the demonstration entered in the Avenue and headed to the arab Medina (old town), but meanwhile, some demonstrators were arrested, among them political activist Hamza Nasri, who was brought to a police station at first, but after, he was moved to an unknown place. Until now, the protesters with a lawyer are outside the police station, asking news for the comrade.
Political activists and Tunisian revolutionary movement side by side to the proletarian youth, don’t be afraid of this new wave of political repression and we are launching new struggles in the upcoming days, affirming that 10 years ago Ben Ali fell down, but the police and old state regime is still there.