Tunisia: Police Use Tear Gas and Batons to Disperse Labor Union Protest

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

Police used tear gas and batons to disperse protesters showing support to the Tunisian General Union for Labour (known by its French acronym, UGTT), in the capital Tunis, yesterday (February 25, 2012). The union, which has accused members of the ruling party Ennahdha of defacing its offices, organized the protest.

Protesters, who numbered 3,000 people, raised anti-government slogans like “People want the fall of the government” and “Ennahdha get out.”

Protesters gathering in Habib Bourguiba Avenue, downtown Tunis. Photo shared by @Lechatquirit , via Twitpic

Protesters gathering in Habib Bourguiba Avenue, downtown Tunis. Photo shared by @Lechatquirit , via Twitpic

France24 correspondent, David Thomson tweets [fr]:

A #Tunis grosse manif du syndicat UGTT et de la gauche devant le MI pour dire “Dégage Ennahdha”

In #Tunis, a big protest by the union UGTT and the left in front of the Interior Ministry to say “Ennahdha Get Out”

Author of Le Blog Boukornine describes the situation [fr] on her Facebook page:

Des images dignes d'une guerre au centre-ville… des hordes de policiers dont certains sont cagoulés armés de bâtons et de matraques, lançant du lacrymo.
Une férocité incroyable. Des blessés, des femmes et des enfants transportés en urgence à l'hôpital Charles Nicole… Atmosphère étouffante.. Les affrontements se poursuivent à l'heure qu'il est par les bourreaux de la république qui répriment gratuitement et illégalement une manifestation pacifique autorisée dans cette Tunisie post-révolutionnaire. #ACAB

Images of a war in downtown Tunis…a large group of police officers, some of them masked, and armed with batons, are shooting tear gas. An unbelievable ferocity. Injured people, women, and children are rushed to the hospital of Charles Nicole…A suffocating atmosphere. Until now, clashes continue, and the torturers are freely, and illegally repressing a peaceful, and authorised protest in this post revolutionary Tunisia

The protest turned violent when police ordered protesters to leave, but they refused to do so. Sameh B.A writes [fr]:

les flics nous ont demande de partir. l'autorisation de 12 a 14h. ensuite il ont attaque

Police asked us to leave. Permit to protest from noon to 2pm. Then they attacked
Activist Araoua Barakat was assaulted by police during February, 25 protest photo shared via twitpic

Activist Araoua Barakat was assaulted by police during February, 25 protest photo shared via twitpic

Several people were injured in Saturday's protest. Emine M'tiraoui, reports [ar] for the collective blog Nawaat:

بعد القاء قنابل الغاز المسيل للدموع تمت ملاحقة المتظاهرين قصد تفريقهم عبر الانهج المحاذية لشارع الحبيب بورقيبة وسجلنا اصابة الناشطة اروى بركات بكسر على مستوى مرفق اليد اليسرى اثر اصابة مباشرة وجهها لها عون امن مستعملا في ذلك هراوته
الى جانب اصابة الشاب محمد الدريدي على مستوى الراس والناشطة ايناس التليلي برضوض على مستوى اسفل الظهر
مع تاكيد المتضررين بان هذا الاستعمال المفرط للعنف لا مبرر له و انه يذكر بتصرفات وزارة الداخلية ايام القمع و اجمعوا على ان نفس اساليب القمع الهمجية متواصلة
After using tear gas, protesters were chased in the streets near Habib Bourguiba Avenue. We registered an injury for activist Araoua Barakat, whose left elbow was broken, when a police officer directly hit her with his baton. Mohamed Dridi, a young man, was also wounded at the level of his head, and activist Ines Tlili has bruises on her lower back. The injured confirmed that the excessive use of violence was unjustified, and it reminded them of the behavior of the Interior Ministry during days of oppression. They all agreed that same brutal means of oppression continues

Journalists assaulted

During yesterday's protest, police physically, and verbally assaulted journalists. Around 10 police assaults on journalists were registered. In a Press release, the National Syndicate for Tunisian journalists, condemned the assaults, and said it is planning to lodge a complaint against the Tunisian Interior Ministry.

Radio Kalima reports [ar] on its Facebook page:

تعرض مراسل كلمة في شارع الحبيب بورقيبة ” علي الجلايلي ” الى
الاعتداء بالضرب من قبل عون بوليس بالزي المدني رغم انه كان يحمل
بطاقته الصحفية
Although he had his Press card with him, Radio Kalima reporter, Ali Jelali, was assaulted in Habib Bourguiba Avenue, by a police officer in civilian clothes

The same radio says [ar] in another report:

عرض عضو المكتب التنفيذي لنقابة الصحافيين ايمن الرزقي و الصحفي
زهير الوزيدي تعرضا للاعتداء من قبل اعوان بالزي المدني
Aymen Rezgui, member of the executive bureau of the journalists’ syndicate, and journalist Zouheir Ouzid, were assaulted by police officers in civilian clothes

Nearly, 14 months after the fall of the regime of strongman Zeine El Abidin Ben Ali, protesters are still being assaulted for raising anti-government slogans, and journalists are still being abused for doing their job.

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

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