Today, Tunisian police dispersed a peaceful march organized by around 400 unemployed university graduates and human rights activists in Mohamed Ali Square in front of the General Tunisian Workers’ Union (UGTT) headquarters.
The protesters’ demands were the right to work. Policemen used clubs and tear gas to disperse the protesters as they attempted to reach Habib Bourguiba Avenue. The protesters subsequently took refuge in the UGTT headquarters.
Belgacem Ben Abdallah, president of the Tunisian Union of Unemployed University Graduates (TUUUG), told Tunisia Live that they are protesting to ask for their right to work since 2006. They held the government responsible for the lack of decent jobs available to university graduates, many of whom have been unemployed for a long time.
“After the revolution, the TUUUG was able to restructure its members all over the country in the new environment of freedom. This is the third national march we make. The first one took place in May 2011 and a second one in February 2012,” stated Belgacem.
“Our march is about work, freedom and national dignity. Each unemployed person must receive unemployment benefits,” he highlighted. Belgacem also insisted that recruitment of employees should be done by taking into account those who have been unemployed for a long time.
He denounced “the violence and barbarity of police.” “This reminds us of Ben Ali’s tactics,” he pointed. “They attacked 25 people, some were hit in the head, others had their legs broken, and were taken to hospital.”
The Tunisian Ministry of Interior stated in a press release that the protesters took on an unauthorized march in the Bourguiba Avenue, despite the decision issued by the Ministry of Interior banning marches in the Tunis’ main boulevard. This decision came under effect on March 28th, 2012 as a measure to protect public and private interests, including those of commercial and touristic institutions and to guarantee smooth traffic in Avenue Bourguiba.
“Protesters forced their way through a security barrier in the crossing between Avenue de France and Rue de Rome”