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Tunisia: More Protests, More Police Violence

This post is part of our special coverage Tunisia Revolution 2011.

Protesters calling for immediate reforms took to the streets of Tunis on Monday (August 15). Among the demands of the protesters was the formation of an independent judiciary capable of bringing corrupt officials and the killers of the “Revolution Martyrs” to justice.

"Hosni Mubarak asks for a trial in front of Tunisian judiciary". Photo by Nawaat.

"Hosni Mubarak asks for a trial in front of Tunisian judiciary". Photo by Nawaat.

Demonstrators were also calling for the immediate release of whistle-blower and former senior official in Tunisia's Interior Ministry Samir Feriani, who has been in custody since May 29, after publishing two letters in a Tunisian newspaper claiming that people holding key positions in the Interior Ministry were responsible for the killing of peaceful protesters during the Tunisian Revolution.

Protesters also chanted “People want the fall of the regime” and “people want the revolution again.”

@MouradMnif tweets:

People are protesting in #Tunisia demanding JUSTICE independence, MEDIA freedom and law-abiding POLICE. #ManifTunis #15aout

On Monday, downtown Tunis witnessed three protests at the same time, but the one that was not lead by the Tunisian Labor Union (UGTT), headed toward the prestigious avenue of Habib Bourguiba, where the building of the Interior Ministry is located ended with clashes between police and protesters.

Blogger Bassem Bouguerra shared a YouTube video comparing the protests:

Police used tear gas to disperse protesters. The Ministry of Interior claimed that one protester started firing tear gas, and the police needed to respond.

@Wessimsara: la fete commence à l'aveniue RT @sameh_b: URGENT : Lacrymo devant le MI ça y est!!! #ManifTunis

Party begins at Hbib Bourguiba avenue RT@sameh_b: breaking: tear gas in front of the Interior Ministry!!! #ManifTunis

@nayzek: Tir de lacremo à partir des minivan et voiture #maniftunis

Tear gas fired from cars and mini vains#maniftunis

Protesters responded with rocks. There were also reports that the police threw rocks at protesters.

@ArouaBenSalah: En ce moment: Affrontements entre policiers et manifestants Avenue de Carthage #ManifTunis

Right now: clashes between police officers and protesters, at Carthage Avenue #ManifTunis

@FDTL_OFFICIEL: les jeunes partent et reviennent et la police frappe avec des pierres #ManifTunis #15aout “Source: un militant #Ettakatol sur place “

Young people go back and forth and police are throwing rocks. #ManifTunis #15aout “source”: an activist for #Ettakatol (a political party)

The following YouTube video shows police dragging and beating a civilian in downtown Tunis, as they were dispersing protesters:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ojJlTMz1aio&feature=player_embedded

This is not the first time in post-revolution Tunisia that police have violently dispersed protesters. Last month, using batons and tear gas security forces prevented peaceful protesters from gathering at Kasbah square, which is the epicenter of protests in the Tunisian capital Tunis. The only difference is that Monday's protests attracted more demonstrators, and gained more sympathy and support among the public.

Such examples of brutality are a reminder for Tunisians that old habits die hard. Tunisian netizens and bloggers aired their disappointment at the police crackdown. Here are some of their reactions on Twitter:

@eyasliti: Police partout, Justice nulle part !! #maniftunis

Police everywhere. Justice nowhere

@MedAliChebaane: Dans ce pays, il faudrait seulement manifester pour le Gouvernement.Toute autre contestation sera réprimée! Vous nous faites haïr le Pays.

In this country, you should only protest for the government. Any other protest will be repressed. You make us hate the country!

@worldwideyes: La #Tunisie, un pays pris en otage par ses propres policiers #tunismanif

Tunisia is a country held hostage by its own police

@Wessimsara: Tous Simplement : القمع متواصل وزارة الإرهاب لم تصلها الثورة بعد

Simply: repression continues, and the revolution has not yet reached the Ministry of Terrorism

The protest movement not only swept the capital, but other demonstrations took place in other provinces in Tunisia. The demands were the same and ranged from calls for an independent judiciary to the resignation of Prime Minister Béji Caid Sebsi.

The following YouTube video features protesters in the province of Béja (North-West of Tunisia) chanting “people want and independent judiciary”, “People revolt on the remains of the Dictator” and “loyal to martyrs’ blood”:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q6TWds0_KC4&feature=player_embedded

Yesterday (August, 16), a Facebook page called Voix du Peuple (Voice of the People) reported that protesters were banned from gathering at the square of the Tunisan Labor Union (UGTT) by the police:

ليوم البوليس يغلق بطحاء الإتحاد العام التونسي للشغل ممارسات ارهابية قمعية، بإختصار بن علي مازال موجود في تونس.

Today, police closes UGTT square. Terrorist and repressive acts. In short, Ben Ali is still here
Police preventing protesters from gathering. Photo by Facebook Page Voix Du Peuple.

Police preventing protesters from gathering. Photo by Facebook Page Voix Du Peuple.

This is a story to follow as protesters are not showing any sign of backing down, and more protests are expected in the upcoming days.

This post is part of our special coverage Tunisia Revolution 2011.

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