Locals from the town of Redeyef in the southwestern governorate of Gafsa are not letting up in their demands that the National Constituent Assembly (NCA) compensate the families of the martyrs and wounded of the 2008 uprising.
The Tunisian General Labor Union (UGTT) spearheaded a general strike yesterday in Redeyef two weeks after the NCA adopted Decree 97 in which only the families of the martyrs and wounded of the Jasmine revolution will be compensated. The strike directly protested the “exclusion of the martyrs and wounded of the 2008 revolution” from Decree 97, stated an official statement by the UGTT.
Adnan Hajji, a UGTT member, told Tunisia Live that the general strike surpassed the organizers’ expectations. “The entire city participated,” he recounted.
All businesses and administrations, excluding the local hospital and pharmacies, went on strike yesterday, reported state news agency TAP.
Nevertheless, the success of the general strike did not garner any response on the part of the government, which was not a surprise for Hajji.
“The government’s politics try to make the driving forces of society fail. It uses the policy of silence hoping to spread despair in everyone until they give up,” he said.
Hajji stated that yesterday’s strike is not the last effort to be taken by the UGTT to pressure the government into compensating the families of the victims in the 2008 uprising. The labor union will continue to collaborate with civil society to ratchet up the demands of Redeyef’s residents until the government responds, Hajji affirmed.
Nevertheless, Decree 97 will not be revisited, according to Abdelhalim Zouari, a NCA member affiliated with the ruling Ennahdha party.
“As the Constituent Assembly, we have already approved Decree 97,” Zouari told Tunisia Live. ”It’s a done deal.”
The primary purpose of reviewing Decree 97 to include the affected families in Redeyef is to establish “the historical truth” of the Jasmine revolution’s timeline, said Hajji.
Redeyef’s residents undertook the 2008 uprising to protest against what they considered as unjust hiring practices by Gafsa Phosphate Company after the results of a round of hiring were announced on January 8, 2008. Five locals were killed and 41 wounded in the ensuing unrest.
For him and the residents of Redeyef, the 2008 uprising laid the foundation upon which the Jasmine revolution could take form on December 17, 2010 in the town of Sidi Bouzid.
The exclusion in Decree 97 touched a nerve with the residents of Redeyef, who have been protesting ever since the decree’s adoption.
“We are against the alienation and discrimination that Ennahdha exercised in the [NCA] towards the people of the mine basin and Gafsa in general,” said Hajji at a public gathering on December 20.
Zouari denied any motivation of his party to neglect the region and assured that Redeyef and the Gafsa region will receive compensation in terms of investments in local infrastructure.