Hundreds of Tunisians Protest against Police Abuses

Hundreds of Tunisians marched in the capital on Saturday to protest against police abuses; they say are endangering freedoms won in the 2011 revolution.

Hundreds of riot police confronted the demonstrators, leading to scuffles. Some protesters threw bottles, while police struck some demonstrators with batons.

There have been near daily protests since the mid-January, the anniversary of Tunisia’s revolution that sparked uprisings across the region in 2011, known as the so-called Arab Spring.

Amid sporadic clashes, police have arrested; more than a thousand people during demonstrations over the past two weeks against financial inequality, the marginalization of poor areas and what protesters say have been heavy-handed police tactics.

A young man died in the central city of Sbeitla last week.

Amnesty International on Thursday called on Tunisian authorities to investigate the death.

Clashes with security

In Tunis, hundreds joined a protest in the center of the capital with scuffles erupting as police blocked the way to the main Avenue Habib Bourguiba; where the Interior Ministry building is located.

Some protesters threw bottles at police, while about 10 officers used batons to beat them back and stop them accessing the avenue; a Reuters witness said.

Some demonstrators held signs that read, “Police everywhere, justice nowhere”, while others chanted slogans; including “Down with police rule” and “Release the nation’s sons (from detention)”.

“They want to steal the principles won since the revolution,” said Mohammed Smida; a protester who compared Prime Minister Hichem Mechichi to former ruler Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali; who left office in 2011 after almost 25 years in power.

“Today our right to protest is threatened by the new Ben Ali,” Smida said.

Mired in a political and economic crisis worsened by the Covid-19 pandemic, Tunisians are angered at a political class seen as locked in power struggles and disconnected from the suffering of ordinary people; who are facing spiraling prices and steep unemployment.

The International Monetary Fund last week encouraged Tunisia; in order to set up a reform plan to “bring economic imbalances back to a sustainable trajectory”.