2018 Tunisian protests

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2018 Tunisian protests
Date 1 January 2018 (2018-01-01) – February 2018
Location Tunisia
Caused by Cost of living, taxes, and price hikes[1][2][3][4][5]
Goals Repeal of the 2018 budget[6][7]
Methods
Parties to the civil conflict
Protesters
Opposition

 Tunisia

Lead figures
Hamma Hammami
(Opposition leader)
Youssef Chahed
(Prime Minister)
Beji Caid Essebsi
(President)
Mohamed Ridha Chalghoum
(Finance Minister)
Number
Hundreds[6]
2,100 Soldiers[8]
Casualties
1 killed,[10] 5 injured, 500+ arrested[11]
50 police injured[12]

The 2018 Tunisian protests are a series of protests occurring throughout Tunisia. Beginning January 2018, protests erupted in multiple towns and cities across Tunisia over issues related to the cost of living and taxes.[10] As of January 9, the demonstrations had claimed at least one life, and revived worries about the fragile political situation in Tunisia.[10]

The Popular Front, an alliance of leftist opposition parties, called for continued protests against the government's "unjust" austerity measures while Tunisian Prime Minister Youssef Chahed denounced the violence and appealed for calm, claiming that he and his government believe 2018 "would be the last difficult year for Tunisians".[13]

Background

After the 2011 Revolution, Tunisia was widely seen as the only democratic success story in the Arab Spring, a model "for democratic progress, with free elections and a modern constitution."[14][15][16][17][18] However, the country has subsequently had nine governments, none of which was able to tackle the country's growing economic problems.[14]

Labor strikes took place in 2012.[19]

Protests

The protests began in response to a new law that took effect on January 1, and raised taxes on gasoline, phone cards, housing, internet usage, hotel rooms and foods such as fruits and vegetables.[10][13] Import duties on cosmetics and some agricultural products were also raised.[20]

Opposition leader Hamma Hammami stated that several opposition parties would meet in order to coordinate their efforts on Tuesday, January 9.[13] The opposition then called for a mass protest to be held in the capital city of Tunis on 14 January to mark the seventh anniversary of the Arab Spring uprising which toppled President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali.[8][21]

On 8 January a Jewish school on the Tunisian island of Djerba was firebombed, while there were no protests on the island, locals reported the assailants had exploited the fact that there was lower security presence as police were elsewhere dealing with the protestors.[12][22]

By the evening of 10 January over 2100 troops had been deployed to "protect sovereign institutions and vital facilities” such as "banks, post offices and other government buildings in the country's main cities" according to Defense Ministry spokesman Belhassen al-Waslati.[8][23]

On January 11, witnesses said that Tunisian protesters "burned down a regional national security headquarters near the Algerian border" as the government deployed security forces and said it will "not revise austerity measures in the 2018 budget."[4]

Casualties

It was confirmed in a statement by the Ministry of the Interior on 8 January that a man had been admitted to a Tebourba hospital with symptoms of dizziness and later died. His body had shown no signs of violence and a forensic doctor has been tasked with determining the man's cause of death. The government stated that the likely cause was due to inhalation of tear gas.[10][13] Five others were injured in the demonstrations according to a report published by Tunis Afrique Presse.[13]

Interior ministry spokesman Khelifa Chibani said about 50 policemen were wounded and 237 people were arrested on 9 January.[12] This was echoed by BBC which said on January 10 that "more than 200 people have been arrested" across the country, and at least 49 police officers injured "during clashes with demonstrators."[6] As of January 12, 778 people had been arrested by police in response to the protests.[24][25][26]

On January 12, the Spokesperson for OHCHR, Rupert Colville, said the United Nations is closely "watching the demonstrations across Tunisia and the authorities’ response to them" concerned about the "high number of arrests" and asserted that "authorities must ensure that those exercising their rights to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly are not prevented from doing so."[27][2] Mr. Colville added that "peaceful demonstrators must not be held responsible or penalised for the violent acts of others" and urged all "sides to work together towards resolving, with full respect for human rights, the economic and social problems underpinning the unrest."

Responses

The governments of Britain, Germany, Sweden, Norway and Belgium have warned "their citizens about potential rioting" while Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan spoke with Tunisian leaders about the protests, saying he believed that when the country "stands united" Tunisia would "overcome its problems."[28][29][30] The embassy of the United States in the country put out a statement as well, reminding U.S. citizens "residing in and visiting Tunisia to exercise caution, avoid demonstrations and crowds, and monitor local media for breaking events."[31]

Ennahdha, a party in the governing coalition of Tunisia condemned the "exploitation of citizens’ legitimate demands by certain anarchist groups” and stressed "the legitimacy of demands for development and employment and citizens’ full right to peaceful protest without violating the safety of others or attacking private and public property" while the opposition alliance, Popular Front, called for "all Tunisian people [to] go out to the streets for a peaceful protests country wide for one clear goal, which is to bring down these actions that destroyed the Tunisian country and its people."[32] The Prime Minister of Tunisia also condemned the "vandalism" of protesters and claimed that while the country is "having difficulties...we believe that 2018 will be the last difficult year for the Tunisians."[33][34]

The Trotskyist WSWS, a website supportive of the protests, argued that in Tunisia, like Egypt, elements of the old regime "managed to reconsolidate power in the interests of the native ruling elites and international capital," further saying that the reforms imposed by the government are pushed to "meet the conditions demanded by the International Monetary Fund and the European Union."[35] Iranian state media outlet, Press TV said that Tunisia had "been hailed for its relatively smooth democratic transition, but it is still experiencing economic and political turbulence" in their description of the protests.[36] Other supportive websites said that these "brave Tunisians...[are] courageous people rebelling long into the night [who] will continue on with or without our support."[37]

See also

References

  1. ^ "Hundreds arrested in Tunisia protests". NPR News. 2018. Retrieved 13 January 2018. 
  2. ^ a b "Press briefing note on Tunisia". NPR News. 2018. Retrieved 13 January 2018. 
  3. ^ "Protests turn violent in Tunisia over price hikes". Yahoo News. 2018. Retrieved 13 January 2018. 
  4. ^ a b "Tunisia deploys army, makes 300 arrests as violent unrest persists". Reuters. 2018. Retrieved 13 January 2018. 
  5. ^ "Protests hit Tunisia for third night as PM warns of crackdown". Sydney Morning Herald. 2018. Retrieved 13 January 2018. 
  6. ^ a b c "Hundreds arrested in Tunisia protests". BBC News. 2018. Retrieved 11 January 2018. 
  7. ^ "Tunisian opposition leader calls for continued protests". Al Jazeera. 2018. Retrieved 13 January 2018. 
  8. ^ a b c d "Hundreds arrested as Tunisia sends troops to quell protests (VIDEO)". RT International. Retrieved 11 January 2018. 
  9. ^ "Widespread protests force Tunisian army deployment". Long War Journal. Retrieved 13 January 2018. 
  10. ^ a b c d e f Blaise, Lilia (2018). "'You Can't Survive Anymore': Tunisia Protests Rising Prices and Taxes". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2018-01-10. 
  11. ^ Burke, Jason (11 January 2018). "Tunisia protests: authorities accused of indiscriminate crackdown". The Guardian. Retrieved 11 January 2018. 
  12. ^ a b c "Protests hit Tunisia for third night as PM warns of clampdown". Reuters. 2018. Retrieved 11 January 2018. 
  13. ^ a b c d e "Tunisian opposition leader calls for continued protests". www.aljazeera.com. Retrieved 2018-01-10. 
  14. ^ a b Burke, Jason (10 January 2018). "Tunisia rocked by protests over price rises". The Guardian. Retrieved 11 January 2018. 
  15. ^ Diamond, Larry (March 23, 2015). "Tunisia Is Still a Success". The Atlantic. Retrieved 11 January 2018. 
  16. ^ Tharoor, Ishaan (18 March 2015). "Why Tunisia, the Arab Spring's sole success story, suffers from Islamist violence". Washington Post. Retrieved 11 January 2018. 
  17. ^ Keating, Joshua (28 January 2015). "Why Was Tunisia the Only Arab Spring Country That Turned Out Well?". Slate. Retrieved 11 January 2018. 
  18. ^ Amara, Tarek. "Tunisian police and rioters clash as job protests grow". AF. Retrieved 2018-01-13. 
  19. ^ "Labour strikes hit several Tunisian regions". Al Jazeera. 6 Dec 2012. Retrieved 13 January 2018. 
  20. ^ Amara, Tarek. "Tunisian protester killed in clashes with police over price hikes, unemployment". AF. Retrieved 2018-01-10. 
  21. ^ "Tunisia: Anti-Austerity Protests Turn Deadly". Retrieved 2018-01-13. 
  22. ^ Moore, Jack. "Tunisia Synagogue Firebombed as Protests Rock Arab Spring Success Story". Newsweek. Retrieved 2018-01-13. 
  23. ^ "200 Arrested, Dozens Hurt in Fresh Tunisia Unrest". AFP. Retrieved 2018-01-13. 
  24. ^ "Arrests in Tunisia near 800 amid protests". Retrieved 2018-01-13. 
  25. ^ "More protests expected in Tunisia after mass arrests". Retrieved 2018-01-13. 
  26. ^ "Nearly 800 Arrested So Far in Tunisian Protests". Retrieved 2018-01-13. 
  27. ^ "UN rights office urges Tunisian authorities to ensure freedom of peaceful assembly". Retrieved 2018-01-13. 
  28. ^ Bouazza, Bouazza Ben. "Tunisian govt hopes that days of food protests are subsiding". Seattle Times. Retrieved 2018-01-13. 
  29. ^ Bouazza, Bouazza Ben. "Tunisia unrest: Arrests, clashes persist amid price rises". Associated Press. Retrieved 2018-01-13. 
  30. ^ "Erdoğan, Essebsi discuss bilateral ties, protests in Tunisia". Hurriyet Daily News. Retrieved 2018-01-13. 
  31. ^ "Security Reminders". US Department of State. Retrieved 2018-01-13. 
  32. ^ Smith-Spark, Laura. "Tunisia protests: Why are people taking to the streets?". CNN. Retrieved 2018-01-13. 
  33. ^ "Tunisia hit by new anti-austerity protests". AlternativeAfrika. Retrieved 2018-01-13. 
  34. ^ "Tunisia Hit By New Anti-Austerity Protests". BBC. Retrieved 2018-01-13. 
  35. ^ "Mass Protests Against Austerity, Unemployment Shake Tunisia". Retrieved 2018-01-13. 
  36. ^ "Tunisia says 200 arrested, dozens injured in fresh unrest". Retrieved 2018-01-13. 
  37. ^ "Tunisia: power belongs to the street". Retrieved 2018-01-13. 
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