Protests over police violence spread through Tunisian capital

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Tunisia’s capital has been rocked by every week of protests in opposition to police violence that started after the demise of a person in police custody and photographs that went viral of officers stripping and beating one other man.

Six nights of demonstrations that started within the working-class districts of Sidi Hassine and Séjoumi in Tunis spread to different neighbourhoods on Monday evening.

According to police, 32-year-old Ahmed Ben Ammar died in custody on 8 June after apparently ingesting marijuana. His household have accused the police of beating him to demise – an allegation denied by Tunisia’s inside ministry.

During protests in opposition to Ammar’s demise on 9 June, police have been filmed beating a younger man, who can’t be named. Footage of the assault quickly went viral and has induced a furore, prompting condemnation from politicians of all stripes.

Tunisia’s president, Kais Saied, visited Sidi Hassine on Friday, the place he expressed his anger over what he described as “isolated incidents”. The inside ministry, which has accountability for the police, has additionally stated that any violations are perpetrated by particular person officers and don’t symbolize a scientific coverage, and that it launched a programme to reform the safety equipment years in the past.

However, rights teams, activists and folks dwelling in areas the place protests are happening say Tunisia’s police drive is characterised by an endemic tradition of violence that has not modified because the 2011 revolution that overthrew Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali’s repressive regime.

The protests have been happening in largely poor neighbourhoods of Tunis, the place locals say good jobs are onerous to come back by.

“The police here are dogs,” stated 33-year-old Mongi, who stated he knew each the person who had died and the one who was crushed. “They’re different than they are in the richer areas. They’ve gotten worse since the revolution. Now they have less money, so they take it from the people,” he stated, referring to an advert hoc system of arbitrary fines he accused the police of levying on these discovered promoting alcohol or carrying marijuana.

A decade on from a revolution in opposition to poverty, injustice and a police state, Tunisia has made progress in the direction of democracy however its financial issues have worsened, sparking repeated protests.

The safety companies and police are two of the few branches of the state untouched by reform. Instead, a number of unions have emerged that work to ensure digital impunity for any officer discovered responsible of assault or torture.

During protests in January, police arrested greater than 2,000 folks, most of them youthful folks from the poorer neighbourhoods of Tunis. Human rights organisations stated that tons of have been subjected to sick remedy and torture.

On Monday, the UN human rights workplace in Tunisia stated in a press release that it was involved by “serious and repeated violations since the beginning of the year [that] reveal continuing dysfunctions within the internal security services”.

According to rights teams such because the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT), union stress has been exerted upon magistrates and attorneys concerned in circumstances of alleged police abuse, and victims and witnesses have been threatened. Legal grievances launched in response to alleged transgressions are both ignored, or disappear inside the forms of the state, rights teams say.

On the streets of Sidi Hassine, claims by the inside ministry that officers guilty of wrongdoing would be punished have been met with derision. “Even if they kill someone, they will just be appointed elsewhere,” stated a 25-year-old man. “We will not stop fighting until we get our rights.”

Hélène Legeay, the authorized director for the Tunis workplace of the OMCT, stated police “feel they can do anything they want”.

“There is regular, harsh police violence inflicted upon citizens every day. As far as I can see, it’s just getting worse.”

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