30 November 2012 11:01 am | | 10

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Protesters in Siliana marched this morning 5 kilometers, denouncing recent police brutality.

Hundreds of people are marching on the freeway near Siliana, blocking all traffic between the city and Tunis. According to an eyewitness account, the march involves people from all walks of life.

The General Union of Tunisian Workers (UGTT) called yesterday for a march against police brutality in Siliana, an impoverished governate in the interior north-west of Tunisia.

The demonstrators will travel a 5-kilometer loop, calling for an end to the violence and the dismissal of the governor of Siliana, Ahmed Zine Mahjoubi. “This march is meant to transmit a message to authorities, that neglected our calls for the governor’s resignation,” said Dr. Hassen Manai, a member from the Tunisian League of Human Rights, to Tunisia Live

 yesterday. In a symbolic act, the demonstrators will march away from the city, satirically offering to leave the city in order to let the government rule in whatever fashion it deems appropriate.

“I am a higher educated person, and I still do not have job, I’ve been unemployed since 2009,” said Sami Guirat, a participant at the demonstration. “I am participating in this march to push the authorities to find solutions to our social problems and to penalize those who shot and blinded protesters.”

Protesters march along the freeway that connects Siliana and Tunis this morning.

The demonstrations, which began four days ago, have involved several clashes between the police, and has left Siliana with a great deal of damages and roadblocks.


1:55 p.m. The march, headed by UGTT leaders, was calm this morning. The protesters walked approximately 10km on the freeway that heads to Tunis before turning back to Siliana’s city center.

The protest seemed to fade away until young protesters headed to the police headquarters and are now throwing rocks at nearby police forces.

2:15 p.m. The police is now attempting to disperse protesters with tear gas.

2:30 p.m. Around a hundred protesters are gathered in front of the UGTT’s headquarters in Tunis’ Mohamed Ali square in support of fellow demonstrators in Siliana. They are condemning what they consider an excessive use of force by security agents against protesters in Siliana during the past two days.

This protest is organized by the Union of the Unemployed and the General Union of Tunisian Students, known by its acronym UGET.

“Our main objective is threefold: stop the repression of Siliana inhabitants, fire Ahmed Zine Mahjoubi, the governor of Siliana, and the resignation of the government,” said Bilal Rekik, a youth member of the Popular Front political coalition.

Some, present at today’s protest in Tunis, floated the idea of sending a caravan of union members to support Siliana protesters in the face of what they see as police suppression. “We are thinking about organizing a caravan to Siliana to break the siege on the region,” said Ayoub Amara, a leading member in the Union of Tunisian Communist Youth.

5:20 p.m. The UGTT organized a peaceful protest in Siliana this morning with people of all kinds attending, but now the demonstrators are mainly young people, and have begun to throw stones and Molotov cocktails at security forces.

The National Guard has intervened with tanks and begun to fire live bullets into the air in an effort to disperse the crowd.

The situation is chaotic.
5:35 p.m. Around 400 hundred demonstrators are gathered in front of the Interior Ministry, located in downtown Tunis. They are condemning the use of force by police in Siliana during the last two days and protesting the government’s refusal to fire the governor of Siliana.  Those in the crowd are shouting slogans, such as “liberty, liberty” and “dégage.”
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Comments (10)

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  1. Police use of excessive force, especially deadly force, corruption and other misconduct hurts everyone – including the police — in terms of lost cooperation, support and trust – which, in turn, diminishes their effectiveness. That’s the reality. Now what? To learn how to confront and prevent it. Follow my blog at http://improvingpolice.wordpress.com.

    • zollat says:

      True. The police in Tunisia has lost support, respect and credibility from the Tunisian population for a long time. But for the police to be effective, we need a core population that does understand its rights and duties. We have a sizable fringe of the Tunisian population and a political class that does not understand that obeying the law is beneficial for all. They think that they can seek their ‘needs’ by all means, and the lax response of the authorities gave them the necessary confidence to carry on blockades, hostage taking, expulsions, illegal strikes, kidnappings… We are in presence of a sizable fringe population and a political class that is sadly uncivilized, which creates an environment where police work (that includes cooperation with citizens) becomes impossible.

      The authorities are then facing 2 solutions: confront these barbarian-non-thinking-individuals or just let them ransack their own towns.

      I am in favor of establish marshal law and a curfew in these towns and have the military take control-for now at least. Also create a ministry that deals with these regions and have that ministry located in that region. Create a communication task force that advises whoever becomes minister to communicate correctly with these folks. The 4 or 5 governorate least developed in Tunisia should have a tax-free status where any newly created business (of 5 workers or more) doesn’t have to pay taxes for at least 15 years.

      Last but not least, sign a government executive order that should have the full backing of the troika, the police and military that any person in a position to cause harm others by using a weapon (knive, sword or molotov) should be simply gunned down. Anyone in a position to trespass a public building or damage it should be shot in the legs.

  2. zommarah says:

    if I were the PM I’d issue a directive that anyone trespassing a government building, attacking anyone else with a knife, sword or Molotov, should be shot at directly after only ONE warning shot. Anyone throwing rocks at buildings, at other people or at police should have his feet shot at after only ONE warning shot.
    These uncivilized animals need to obey the rule of the law and protest without violence.

    • Truthteller says:

      Zommarah, you sound like a fascist dictator. “Uncivilized animals?” Why doesn’t the government examine the problem and what the controversial wali has done about it.

      • zommarah says:

        the law is clear in these circumstances….and the government since day one is acting like they are governing over civilized people while we all know that more than half of Tunisians are uncivilized including a big chunk of our ‘elite’.
        Again, the rule of the law is clear, anyone who is in a threatening position, carrying a weapon and about to cause harm to other people should be TAKEN DOWN. This is the law in any other country.
        As for the problems of those regions, those people MUST understand that 1 year is not enough to fix 300 years of bad governance. If they cannot be reasoned peacefully, the law should be carried on.
        We have a case of an anarchist revolt caused by the inability of the government to apply the law. People understood that they can do what they want, when they wan,t and anytime they want…We have some idiots blockading streets asking for their ‘right’ to have jobs!! Since when jobs are a right?
        Again, if you are threatening others or others property, you should be GUNNED DOWN. Enough with this weak government.

  3. noureddine says:

    this protesters must understand that things can`t be done in a short time it weel just demage tunisia more and the tourist are frightning to travel down there unemployement is a problem all over the world just take a loock at GREECE or SPAIN things arent better there

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