July 30, 2021

government on the defensive in the face of unrest

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Protests in the district of Sidi Hassine, in Tunis, on June 12, 2021.

The Tunisian government appears on the defensive, Wednesday, June 16, and its leader Hichem Mechichi could be heard by a parliamentary committee Thursday or Friday, in the face of continuing unrest born in reaction to alleged police violence.

For the eighth consecutive night, clashes took place Tuesday evening in the suburbs of Tunis, noted an AFP correspondent.

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In the working-class district of Ettadhamen, young protesters set fire to tires and threw stones at the security forces, who responded with a few tear gas shots, according to the same source.

This follows the recent death, in suspicious circumstances, of a youth after his arrest, as well as the release of a video showing another youth humiliated by what appear to be undercover police officers.

Naked and beaten

Ten years after the 2011 revolution that ousted the Zine El-Abidine Ben Ali police regime, these new abuses sparked an uproar in Tunisia.

On Wednesday, the National Union of Tunisian Journalists (SNJT) told AFP that it intended to join as a civil party – along with dozens of other human rights organizations – in the ongoing investigations. They also called for a demonstration in support of victims of police violence on Friday.

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Prime Minister Mechichi, also acting interior minister, or a government official, is due to be heard in parliament on Thursday or Friday by the Armed Forces Administration and Affairs Committee, the bureau told AFP. of the Assembly on Wednesday.

The first clashes took place on June 8 in Sidi Hassine, a neighborhood near that of Ettadhamen, in reaction to the death a few hours earlier of a young man, Ahmed Ben Ammar, during his arrest by the police.

A video that went viral on social media fueled anger, showing a minor arrested on the sidelines of the young man’s funeral. This minor appears to be stripped naked by plainclothes police before being beaten and taken naked to a police car.

Increase in police violence

The Interior Ministry said it had opened investigations into these two cases and suspended the police officers responsible for these acts, after initially ensuring that the minor, drunk, had undressed himself.

The United Nations on Monday expressed their concern at the increase in police violence in Tunisia, signs of “Continuous dysfunctions within the internal security services whose resolution requires an infallible will from both the executive and the judiciary”.

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While the security forces no longer enjoy discretionary power since 2011, their abuses are rarely prosecuted.

The World with AFP