This post is part of our special coverage of Tunisia Revolution 2011.
The uprising in Tunisia has been widely reported on in Chinese media, and was one of the top stories online over this past weekend. Below are excerpts from a series of posts from a woman living in Tunis, blogging at Sina.com under the name ‘tiger6698′.
突尼斯流血暴乱 (2011-01-13 04:51:54)
On the 17th of last month, a young man in the southern city of Sidi Bouzid attempted self-immolation in protest of brutal treatment by chengguan, which was followed by bloody clashes between the protesting public and the National Guard; as of now, more than 60 have died (official numbers).
It was on the 24th of last month that we went south to the desert for Tunisia's annual “international desert festival”. There was still no feeling then of the storm brewing, we saw many people of every sort and from every country, but with Oriental faces few and far between, our arrival added more than a little color to the barren dry desert.
Once we got home, we started hearing snippets about the unrest; at the time, we didn't think much of it, as Tunisia is known as Europe's own backyard and the political situation has always been rather stable, with friendly and kind people. What we didn't expect was that the clashes would continue to grow and begin to spread. More clashes took place, then riots and protests, then bloodshed, and then this Tuesday schools were closed indefinitely.
Tunisia is a beautiful place; now happens to be Tunisia's rainy season, and with Spring coming, flowers are blossoming and everything is coming back to life. Yet, none of this has been able to stop the bloodshed, and I sincerely hope that these violent clashes end soon.
突尼斯宵禁之夜 (2011-01-13 04:55:13)
We heard word this evening that Tunis is now under curfew from 8pm until 6am during which nobody will be allowed to go out freely; anyone caught in the gunfire or any other accident will be responsible for themselves.
Later at the cafeteria, everyone was talking about this, and those quickest to react had already been to the supermarket to stock up on food. But the scene they described leaves the rest of us with little hope of being able to get anything from the supermarket tomorrow: the meat counters were all empty and next to nothing was left on the shelves. They were only able to rush and buy a few bags of dried goods, spaghetti and crackers. What worries us most is that before they'd even gotten out of the store, the security guards were already about to shut the doors, even with hundreds of people waiting outside wanting to come in and buy stuff. One wanted to lock up and the other didn't and there was an intense dispute, the sound of children crying, people arguing….just made an already tense atmosphere all the more terrifying. They hurriedly paid and left quickly through the back door.
According to them, the parking lot was packed full of cars, and outside people were waiting in a panic to start buying.
Usually around six at night is when the streets are at their busiest, but now you rarely even see a car go buy, everywhere is deserted. We finished dinner and drove home, all the shops were already closed. We were heartened to finally see a vegetable shop still open as everywhere else was closed, but they too were about to close up, even though inside was packed full of people. We rushed out of the car and got in line. The owner laughed when he saw us, I guess their shop has never seen so many people in it before.
I was able to buy some potatoes, turnips, greens and one carrot (it was the last one left, I guess the woman standing next to me hadn't noticed it, she was buying up every kind of vegetable in the shop), and those who came with us bought a lot too. If the supermarkets don't open, and we eat through everything stored at the cafeteria, at the very least we'll have enough food to last a few days, we won't starve.
On the way home ours was the only car on the road, no sign of the bright lights and activity usual for this hour, and the smell of gunpowder had begun to fill the air.
By the time curfew began, the streets of Tunis were filled with fully-equipped soldiers and armored vehicles and every sort of military vehicle. We could hear ambulance sirens outside, with the occasional rat-tat-tat of gunfire.
在突尼斯抢购 (2011-01-13 22:59:45)
I really don't know how I should feel about all this news, it feels as though it isn't real. I opened the window and went out onto the balcony, a cold wind was blowing, I couldn't help but start shivering, and then I looked down. Just yesterday, there were parents watching their children laugh and goof around outside the school downstairs, but not a single one of them came today. All there is are the few small flags flapping in the wind, with the faint distant sound of ambulance sirens.
Yesterday when I told my husband of the gunshots I'd heard, he said they sounded like firecrackers. Yeah, they really do sound like firecrackers, it's just that our firecrackers are for when we celebrate, but right now here we're all worried, worried that people out there are getting hurt each time we hear the “firecrackers” or the frequent sound of ambulance sirens.
The sound of keys in the door, it turned out to be the cleaning lady. I showed her some pictures online, then she started making gestures like of somebody getting shot……
在突尼斯蜗居 (2011-01-15 03:29:21)
Today Tunis went on general strike, and everything is dead quiet outside our home, possibly because we live quite far from the city center and presidential palace.
I originally thought the curfew was only in place for Thursday night, but I only later heard from somebody that until an order comes down to lift the curfew, it stays in place. Last night as I was coming home after dinner at the canteen, every shop I passed had their metal gates pulled down tight, and behind the glass windows standing quietly behind them, inside was completely empty. Shop-owners have already moved all their goods out. The air is quiet, the houses are quiet, the roads are quiet, the only thing not quiet are people's hearts.
Last night, the President gave a speech on TV: Ben Ali says that he will respect the country's constitution, and promised that he won't alter the constitution so that he can remain in power. Ben Ali also promised to immediately implement “full and absolute” press freedom for the country, and that any media or journalist, within professional boundaries, may now perform their duties freely. The government will meet the public's “legal demands” and immediately launch “full, absolute and pervasive” political and economic reforms. But at the same time, he emphasized that reforms require a stable environment and the cooperation of all layers of society. He promised that the government will take immediate steps to lower the costs of daily life goods and essential services, and increase government relief subsidies for impoverished families.
When people heard that, curfew or no curfew, they all came out and cheered.
The government's declaration was truly moving, and I don't know if this storm is over now, if beautiful Tunisia will be able to return to peaceful life.
“不堪一击”的突尼斯政坛 (2011-01-15 16:43:07)
……to be frank, these soldiers are too soft-hearted. If this was the Chinese government, they've have killed every last one of them at the get-go, never mind holding out for the president to flee. If this was China, whoever was holding the guns would be in charge…..it seems Tunisians could really stand to learn from China; China's history goes back thousands of years, but there hasn't been a single dynasty that was chased off by completely unorganized unarmed rioters.
We keep hearing the drone of helicopters on patrol, what will tomorrow bring for Tunisia?
突尼斯－－危机四伏 (2011-01-16 03:49:52)
别怕，我有枪！ (2011-01-17 00:53:14)
At lunch, those who went to the embassy meeting came back, and my husband and others went nervously back to work.
From the embassy I learned that last night people of unclear identity were firing machine guns into apartment buildings, and in the south of Tunisia two Chinese were accidentally injured. The embassy has warned us to refrain from going outdoors as much as possible and to keep safe. Here I thought the situation was about to clear up, I hadn't anticipated that that was merely a quiet pause in the storm. At this very minute, within my earshot are the constant sounds of consecutive gunshots, of military aircraft flying periodically overhead at low range, I have no idea what's going on outside around us. And just now a colleague rang me up saying that barriers have been set up all around them to prevent people from wandering in. And their landlord, a 60-something year-old guy, holding a knife in each hand, told them: don't be afraid, I have guns, when the time comes we can all work together.
The situation is becoming increasingly muddled, the ex-president's supporters are using armed force to protect areas where they still have control, and new forces are relying arms to defend their own power too; most frightening are those deliberately creating trouble to take advantage of the situation and stock up their own arsenal, while the innocent public are haplessly left stuck in the middle most probably to end up smashed like eggs!
Tomorrow I go back to work! Beautiful, warm Tunis, peace will return soon, inshallah!
This post is part of our special coverage of Tunisia Revolution 2011.