Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Tunisian Youth Continue Their Revolution

An excerpt from my latest piece of reporting from Tunisia for the new online news outlet, Middle East Eye:

When young Tunisians gathered in the streets and braved bullets more than three years ago, their demands were clear: freedom, dignity and employment. With continued pressure, they pushed out former President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, secured free and fair elections, and forced an old regime and a largely older generation to heed their calls. 
After a series of governments, continued unrest, political assassinations, and fierce ideological battles, Tunisia finally passed a new constitution this January. The country now has a new caretaker government led by Prime Minister Mehdi Jomaa who has made some tentative gestures toward democracy, recently concluded a trip to Washington where he requested international support to invest in Tunisia’s “startup democracy”.
Despite these steps, many Tunisian youths find themselves in the same predicament as three years ago, their futures as bleak or even bleaker than before the uprising.
“The youth who contributed or played a role in the revolution, they helped get certain people to power and now those people are putting these youth in prison and they’re trying to oppress them,” says 28-year-old activist Amal Ayari.
Since the revolution, hundreds of young people have been arrested as simmering discontent has regularly boiled over into protests and sometimes violent clashes with police.
Ayari leads an organisation called “Ikolna Siliana” or “We are all Siliana”, named after a neglected farming town in central of Tunisia, where thousands of youth took to the streets in November 2012.  
Less than two years after the initial Tunisian uprising, the young protestors wanted to reiterate the demands of the revolution. Over the span of a couple days, however, special police forces violently quashed the protests by firing into the crowds.
 To read the entire piece, click here.