The events of Friday July 15th 2011 dubbed Kasbah III and the demonstrations of August 15st demanding a more free and just judiciary system remind us yet again of the main obstacles that remain on the road to democracy. The security system remains steadfast against any protests, peaceful or not; targeting peaceful protesters with tear gas and batons and directing violence against journalists- something that is not new to Tunisia. With the population across the country responding in outrage, their outcries were met with the accustomed excuses from the Ministry of Interior and the Police Union that the disproportionate use of force by the police would come to a halt. This response was really only prompted by the threat of legal action on behalf of the Journalists Union, with the same promises of legal action still being waited upon from similar events that took place in May. One cynically wonders whether legal action is even worth it anymore when the police confront these peaceful legal protests with force, creating outrage among the Tunisian population, including attacks on police stations and members of the force across the Republic. We have already been given different reasons for this violent oppression, inluding the “new reality that is democracy and freedom of speech” that is putting the security apparatus under a new order, taking some time for them to adapt to. This comes after sit ins, protests and outrage against the same issues coming from the same security apparatus over the past 7 months. How long will it take? What is the price? Knowing that every time these protests are violently oppressed we have at least one more death. On July 15th it was a young teen only 12 years old, in another instance tear gas was thrown inside a mosque with men, women, young and old all getting the same treatment; on August 15th another young man had his life taken away after altercations with police with his death still under investigation. We ask the question: Is the police now the main obstacle to democracy in Tunisia? What is the worst that could have happened if the protests went underway in peace, which by all accounts was the actual case? Human rights organizations call foul play for the way the police have treated Tunisian citizens, even after the January 14th revolution with reports of possible torture at the Minister of Interior. Time and time again, we hear the same talk from the government but police actions remain from the Ben Ali manual book.
Free Tunisia Team