Warning shots, tear gas fired at Tunisia demos
SIDI BOUZID, Tunisia: Police fired tear gas and rubber bullets late Thursday to disperse a second anti-government protest in the central Tunisian town of Sidi Bouzid, birthplace of last year’s revolution. Some 800 demonstrators
rolled their eyes fiercely furious at police intervention against a protest earlier in the day made faces threw stones at security forces who again replied with rubber bullets and tear gas. There were no immediate reports of casualties.
On Thursday morning hundreds of demonstrators demanding the resignation of the Islamist-led government had tried to force their way into the provincial government headquarters, before the police fired tear gas and warning shots into the air. The protesters broke through the entrance to the compound, but when the shots and tear gas were fired, the panicked crowd scattered.
|The police used rubber bullets and tear gas and there were no injuries? Time to stop using the nerf batons...|
The demonstrators had been chanting anti-government slogans such as
"Please kick our asses!" “The people want the regime to fall!” accusing the ruling elite of “hypocrisy” and demanding the right to work.
A similar incident took place at the end of June, when protesters angered over their living conditions attacked the same building, hurling
shoes rocks and burning tires, with police firing tear gas to disperse them.
The Tunisian Workers Party denounced the forceful tactics used by the police on Thursday and reiterated its support for the protesters’ demands, including the dismissal of the provincial governor, the head of the national guard and the public prosecutor. It also called for the freeing of four protesters it said were arrested.
|With, again, no injuries...|
Sidi Bouzid is where the uprising began that eventually toppled former dictator Zine El Abidine Ben Ali and touched off the Arab Spring, when a street vendor immolated himself in December 2010 in protest over his own precarious livelihood. The town is located in a particularly marginalized region, and little has improved since the revolution, according to analysts.
“The residents of Sidi Bouzid live in very difficult conditions, especially with the water and electricity cuts seen recently,” said political expert Ahmed Manai. “These protests were to be expected.”
|Likely because nobody there is bothering to make the place better...|
Poor living conditions, including high youth unemployment, were a driving factor behind the revolution. Despite signs of an economic recovery this year, many people remain frustrated by the government’s failure to improve their social circumstances, which has led to strikes and confrontations with the police.
|What are the people themselves doing about it? Reminds me of the comments Mitt Romney made about culture, the comments that were vilified by the Left but are true in the real world.|
The forceful disruption of Thursday’s protests came amid heightened criticism of the government by opposition and civil society groups, which accuse it of increasingly authoritarian and Islamist tendencies.
Several NGOs have accused Ennahda, which leads the ruling tripartite coalition, of seeking to curtail freedom of expression, most recently with a draft law to criminalize offenses against “sacred values” that could carry a two-year jail term. Another controversy has flared up over a proposed article in the new constitution that refers to the “complementarity” of men to women rather than their equality.
Posted by: Steve White