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Tunisia: Neglect of Those Wounded in the Revolution

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

Tunisians have been expressing their dissatisfaction and anger regarding the government's poor treatment of those wounded during the Tunisian revolution. Before President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali was ousted hundreds of people were wounded in clashes with police, but they have since been neglected. Some of them have bullets still to be extracted from their bodies, and other had limbs amputated and are still waiting for prosthetic limbs. Many have not received the right medical treatment due to the complexity of their cases.

Prominent blogger and activist Lina Ben Mhenni wrote in a blog post entitled “The Wounded of the Revolution, Waiting for Something That Won't Come” [ar]:

منذ أكثر من سنة و جرحى الثورة التونسية يعانون من اهمال و لا مبالاة أولئك الذين توالوا على دفّة الحكم من مسؤولي حكومات مؤقّتة. فتعدّدت المبرّرات و تنوّعت و كأنّ العلاج و حلّ المشاكل الصحية لمن ضحّوا في سبيل الوطن و يحتمل الانتظار , فتذرّعت كلّ حكومة باسباب واهية فمن الحكومات من تعلّلت بأنّها وقتيّة و لا تملك الصلوحيّات الكاملة لاتخاذ التدابير اللازمة لعلاج هؤلاء الأبطال الذين واجهوا عنف البوليس و عرّضوا أجسادهم للرصاص الحيّ حالمين بتغيير أحوال البلاد فلجأ بعض الجرحى الأبطال الى النضال بأجسادهم مرّة أخرى ليضمنوا حقّهم الشرعيّ في العلاج و هو أبسط ما يمكن أن نقدّمه لهم فدخلوا في اضراب مفتوح عن الطعام قبيل الانتخابات بفترة قصيرة و ذلك بعد أن طرقوا جميع الأبواب التي أوصدت في وجوهم مرات و مرات.
For more than a year, those wounded in the Tunisian revolution have suffered from the neglect and indifference of those who came to power, the officials of the temporary governments. Justifications have varied and multiplied as if treating and solving the health problems of those who sacrificed themselves for the nation can wait. Each government has offered flimsy reasons; one of the governments said it was temporary and didn't have the powers to take the necessary measures to treat the heroes who faced police violence and exposed their bodies to live bullets, dreaming of changing the country's situation. So some of the wounded heroes resorted to fighting, once again using their bodies, to guarantee their legitimate right for treatment, which is the simplest thing we can offer them. After knocking on every door, which were shut in their faces again and again, they went on an open hunger strike [ar] shortly before the elections.
Sit-in by families of men wounded during the revolution. Photo from machhad.com (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0).

Sit-in by families of men wounded during the revolution. Photo from machhad.com (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0).

Tarek Dziri and Muslim Bin Fraj Kasdallah, who threatened to self-immolate in front of the National Constituent Assembly on April 18, before the government decided to send them abroad to get more advanced care. Photo from machhad.com (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0).

Tarek Dziri and Muslim Bin Fraj Kasdallah, who threatened to self-immolate in front of the National Constituent Assembly on April 18, before the government decided to send them abroad to get more advanced care. Photo from machhad.com (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0).

Blogger Hada Ana wrote about one case [ar]:

في تونس ما بعد الثورة, يموت جرحى ثورتنا في المستشفيات الغير مجهزة بمعدات قادرة على شفائهم .
اليوم في تونس ما بعد الثورة, و بعد صراع دام 8 أشهر قضها مقعد في فراشه و لا يجد من يتذكره ولا يواسيه في محنته, توفي جريح ثورتنا حسونة بن عمر
In post-revolution Tunisia, the wounded of our revolution die in the hospitals that don't have the equipment to treat them. Today in post-revolution Tunisia, after an eight-month fight spent in his bed, with no one to remember him and sympathize with his agony, Hassouna Ben Omar died.
Mohamed Bin Tijani El-Hanchi has a bullet inside his body. Photo from machhad.com (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0).

Mohamed Bin Tijani El-Hanchi has a bullet inside his body. Photo from machhad.com (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0).

Rashad El-Arbi's parents went on hunger strike before the government took responsibility for his treatment. Photo from machhad.com (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0).

Yassine Ayari tweeted scathingly about the ruling Ennahda party:

@yassayari: نواب النهضة بش يداويو جرحى الثورة بالقرأن و النشيد الوطني..
The Ennahda deputies will treat the revolution's wounded with the Qur'an and the national anthem…

Blogger Abdelkader Hammami mentioned a different side of the story [ar]:

وتنشر الصفحات القريبة من النهضة معلومات مثيرة لم نقدر على إثبات مصدرها جاء في بعضها: «من غرائب الثورة التونسية وجود 7 آلاف مطلب فوق مكتب سمير ديلو وزير حقوق الإنسان يدعي أصحابها أنهم جرحوا خلال الثورة، كثير منهم جرحوا في أحداث عنف لا علاقة لها بالثورة، ويجب أن تلاحقهم الدولة من أجل التحيل والابتزاز».
[Facebook] pages connected to Ennahda have published interesting information that we are not able to verify the source of, saying, “One of the peculiarities of the Tunisian revolution is the presence of seven thousand applications on the desk of Samir Dilou, Minister of Human Rights. The claimants say they were injured during the revolution, but many of them were injured in unrelated violent incidents, and the government should prosecute them for fraud and extortion.”

The following video [ar] by Melomanx features a sit-in by men wounded in the revolution in front of the Ministry of Human Rights and Transitional Justice on March 26, 2012:

This video [ar] from TunisiaTalks shows the agony of the revolution's wounded:

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

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