Rights 215

Seeking Knowledge While Blind in Tunisia

In another world, Mohamed Gabsi would have studied technology and probably specialized in computer science. Instead, because of the limited access to study material accessible to disabled people like himself in his preferred field, he enrolled in the Faculty of Letters of Sousse. “I am a French graduate, technophile and blind,”the young man likes to introduce himself—both in everyday life and during his activities as a disability justice activist.

Tunisian Police Violently Disperse Peaceful Demonstrators, Journalists

On September 1, police violently dispersed a peaceful demonstration in downtown Tunis, punching, shoving, and using pepper spray against demonstrators as well as journalists who were there covering the event. Aside from some incidents in front of Parliament on July 26, Wednesday’s police repression was the first documented use of police violence against peaceful demonstrators since President Kais Saied suspended parliament and dismissed the government on July 25.

Fighting Covid Alone: Letter from Kairouan

Late last June, when it was the region hardest hit by Covid-19, Meshkal/Nawaat went to Kairouan. The tragic situation there foreshadowed what the rest of the nation has since been living through: a sharp spike in cases made much worse by a lack of basic State services, personnel, and supplies. Without enough doctors, ambulances, vaccines or vaccination teams, protective gear or nurses, many in Kairouan faced their spike by relying on family for care, exacerbating the spread of the virus. Meanwhile, medical personnel themselves were unable to get vaccines and many worked without receiving salaries promised in their contracts.

Sidi Hassine: After Another Man Dies in Police Encounter, “Who’s Next?” Citizens Ask

The death of 32-year-old Ahmed Ben Moncef Ben Ammar on June 8, allegedly while in police custody, has prompted several days of protests and clashes with police forces in the working class neighborhood of Sidi Hassine. Several people have been wounded, including a 15-year-old who was stripped naked and beaten in a widely-shared video that has prompted outrage. Sidi Hassine is also the neighborhood where 19-year-old Aymen Othman was killed when customs officials opened fire in 2018.

Amending Law 52 on narcotics: A Mixed Track Record

When three young people were recently sentenced to 30 years in prison in accordance with Law 52 on narcotics, it sparked controversy. A debate has reignited over the repressive nature of the law and the fate of drug consumers locked up for smoking a joint. Meanwhile, collectives and associations have come out calling for the depenalization and decriminalization of drug consumption. Their demand is not a new one, but it remains hostage to political procrastination. In 2017, the law was amended to be less restrictive, but has its application followed suit? What changes have taken place since 2017?

Protests in Tunisia: Queer Activists on the Front Lines

On March 4, queer activist Rania Amdouni was sentenced to six months in prison after weeks of harassment by the police. « Queer and intersex individuals will defend Tunisians’ social and economic demands, even if the State does not consider them human because of their differences », Damino said. « Our presence in the protests is the result of a process that began in 2011 », Firas added.

Families say Police Abused, Abducted Minors in Mass Sweeps as Protests Continue

After more than a week of protests across the nation following a sudden, government-imposed lockdown on the 10th anniversary of the January 14, 2011 revolution, security forces have arrested over 1600 people, 600 of them children, according to Yassine Azaza, a human rights activist and volunteer lawyer on behalf of the Tunisian League of Human Rights (LTDH by its French acronym). Those numbers were given to Nawaat/Meshkal on January 20, 2021, but since then the numbers have increased and human rights activists and organizations said they are struggling to keep track.

Healthcare Workers Protest Amid Strike

Hundreds of healthcare staff and workers, including doctors, nurses, medical students and other staff held a protest march on Tuesday, December 8, which they dubbed a ‘day of rage’ for the Tunisian public health sector. The focus of protesters demands was on public investment in healthcare facilities, equipment and infrastructure following the death of 27-year-old surgical resident, Badr Eddine Aloui. Aloui fell to his death on December 3 from the fifth floor in the Jendouba Regional Hospital due to an elevator dysfunction.

Precarious Public Sector “Site” Workers Denounce New Union Agreement

On October 20, the government and the Tunisian General Labor Union (UGTT) reached an agreement to resolve the precarious working conditions of so-called “site workers” [ommel hadha’ir] who are hired by the state and work in local administration and agriculture. Yet many ‘site workers’ who had pushed authorities to resolve their status, think the agreement falls short of promises made to them by successive governments. The deal has sparked calls for protest across the country, including a mass mobilization in front of Parliament on Wednesday, December 9, a day that a ‘site worker’ coordination grouping has called a “day of rage.”

Mountains, Sea and Toxic Waste: Tabarkans Protest Local Dump

The town of Tabarka, nestled between green mountains and the sea, close to the Algerian border, boasts a natural beauty that has made it a major tourist attraction for decades. In 2017, nearly a quarter of a million tourists visited Tabarka and its nearby mountain villages according to one report. Despite the beauty, the town’s main trash dump had been near one of the main roads entering the town for years until 2015, when it was finally moved. But the new dump location is near a hospital, close to a training school for the hospitality sector, and may be leaking into local water resources. When locals living near the dump protested earlier this year by blocking a national highway, calling on officials to move it elsewhere, several were briefly detainedby police.

Tunisia’s Health Workers Overloaded by Covid-19

As the number of Tunisians infected with Covid-19 continues to climb, hospital facilities are on the frontlines without the means they need to handle the situation. According to the National Medical Council (CNOM), three physicians have died, ten have been hospitalized and hundreds of medical and paramedical personnel have been infected with the virus. How are medical and paramedical professionals handling the situation?

Covid-19: The Wretched of Tunisia

The general lockdown imposed in Tunisia during the first wave of Covid-19 had disastrous consequences for the most disadvantaged segments of the population. A new study published by the Tunisian Forum for Economic and Social Rights (FTDES) examines the situation of women farm laborers, cleaning ladies in hospitals, construction workers as well as waiters at cafés, restaurants and bars. Employees already in precarious situations in Tunisia have become more vulnerable than ever.