[This statement was released before the fall of Ben Ali. See "Tunisia's intifada topples tyrant: 'Yezzi fock!".]
January 11, 2011 -- When Mohamed Bouazizi committed suicide by setting fire to himself after being harassed by the police his act became the spark which is now setting fire to the whole of the “miraculous Tunisia” of General Ben Ali.
In every town, large and small all over the country, demonstrations showed that the people have had enough. First of all the unemployed and semi-employed moved into action, then they were joined by the workers – unionised workers, but also other groups such as lawyers. The revolt then spread to university students and high school students back from the winter break. This massive wave of struggle has exploded under the slogans of “the right to work”, “the right to a fair share of the nation’s wealth” and “the fight against corruption and nepotism” (this last is a gangrene which has spread to all levels of society). The demonstrators smashed up the symbols of the party-state. The national leadership of the sole legal trade union confederation, the UGTT, which denounced the movement at the beginning (unlike some of its local and regional bodies) was finally obliged to give its official support.
What is immediately striking about these mobilisations, mostly involving the “Ben Ali Generation” (Ben Ali has been ruling the country with an iron first for 23 years) is their skill in harassing a regime that is expert in stifling the smallest spaces available for free speech.
As they did in Iran, web surfers have been able to set up conduits for information and details of actions by using proxies which the web police cannot censor. The police forces, even though there are 130,000 of them, have been overwhelmed and have called on the army to back them up in several towns.
The night of January 8-9 was particularly bloody. Dozens of people were shot dead at Gasserine, Tala and Meknassi. But murder, arrests, provocations and intimidation have not demoralised the demonstrators, who clearly named from the beginning the people responsible for their misery: Ben Ali and his family mafia.
The Ben Ali regime caught in a whirlwind
The world capitalist crisis has hit a country which had opened up practically the whole of its economy through deregulation and privatisation. This has shown clearly the contradictions of the corrupt dealings known as the “Tunisian miracle” which, according to its apostles, was to hoist Tunisia up into the ranks of the “emerging economies”. The official growth rate has fallen by half since 2008. The pharaohic projects to transform whole sections of Tunisia’s coastline into a series of theme parks have all collapsed under the financial crisis hitting the Gulf states which were to have injected their dollars in this huge real-estate speculation.
While Ben Ali thought he was one of the good pupils of the Western powers, busy doing away with islamism, trade unionism and immigration, the United States government now says it is “concerned” by the situation. They say they are “following the situation closely” and all of a sudden they believe that democracy in Tunisia is a concern of theirs.
These raised eyebrows won’t be enough to satisfy a movement, which is affirming ever more strongly its desire to rid itself of a hated regime. Tunisians must count on the support of other peoples and not on the states which have always been accomplices of the dictatorship.
Many demonstrations have been organised in support of the movement, both in other Arab countries, and in the main countries with large numbers of Tunisian immigrants. In France, there have been rallies in Paris, Toulouse, Nantes, Lyon, Marseille and Lille. These rallies have brought together the Tunisian community, as well as activists from the Arab world and from the French left. They have denounced the dictatorship of Ben Ali and the complicity of Sarkozy. On these demonstrations could be seen many new faces, on the streets in protest for the first time. The Tunisian consuls and Ben Ali’s secret agents, who are usually around to harass the opposition, are nowhere to be seen. This is an unmistakeable sign that change is in the air.
The crisis hitting the countries on the northern shores of the Mediterranean is the same one which is destabilising the countries of the southern shores of the same sea. This is one more reason that solidarity is essential. We must not relax the pressure, and our first demand must be the freeing of all the activists in prison.
Ben Ali has fled, support the revolution underway!
Statement by the New Anti-Capitalist Party (Nouveau
Parti Anticapitaliste) France, translated by International Viewpoint
January 14, 2011 -- President Ben Ali’s last speech did not convince anyone. All day there were massive demonstrations, particularly in the capital Tunis, with tens of thousands of people demanding Ben Ali out. Neither the announcement of a complete change of government, nor of early elections put a stop to the mobilisation by young people, workers, the population as a whole.
Police repression continued.
The dictator Ben Ali who has been in power for 23 years, supported up to the very end by the French government has fled. It seems that he is heading for Paris. If this is true it will be one further proof of collusion between the French government and the overthrown dictator.
Ben Ali proclaimed a state of emergency before leaving. The army took control of the airport.
There is no doubt that there wil be a sharpened fight for power between Ben Ali’s supporters and the army.
The flight of the dictator is a great victory for the Tunisian people
The NPA renews all its support for the Tunisian people and the democratic revolution to which they aspire.
Ben Ali assassin, Sarkozy complice !
Nouveau Parti Anticapitaliste
janvier 2011 -- Le suicide par le feu, à la suite du harcèlement policier de Mohamed Bouazizi, un jeune précarisé, à Sidi Bouzid au centre du pays, a été l’étincelle qui embrase maintenant l’ensemble de la « Tunisie des miracles » du général Ben Ali.
Ce sont toutes les villes, grandes et petites, du nord au sud, qui ont vu des manifestations de ras-le-bol ; d’abord des principaux concernés par ce vent de révolte, les chômeurs et les précaires, rejoints par les salariés, les syndicalistes mais aussi par d’autres secteurs sociaux, comme les avocats. Le mouvement a été relayé par la jeunesse lycéenne et étudiante de retour de congés. Cette lame de fond est marquée par les mots d’ordre concernant le « droit au travail », le « droit à une juste répartition des richesses », et la « lutte contre la corruption et le népotisme » qui gangrènent toutes les strates de la société. Les manifestants détruisent aussi les symboles de l’État-parti. La direction de la centrale syndicale unique, l’UGTT, qui dénonçait le mouvement au début (à l’inverse de certaines de ses fédérations et structures locales), a finalement été amenée à lui apporter son soutien officiel.
Ce qui frappe avec les mobilisations portées en grande partie par la « génération Ben Ali » (ce dernier dirige d’une poigne de fer le pays depuis 23 ans), c’est son ingéniosité pour harceler un régime qui durant toute cette période est passé maître dans l’étouffement des moindres espaces de liberté d’expression.
Comme ce fut le cas en Iran, les internautes ont créé un espace où circulent les infos et les rendez-vous de toutes les actions de contestation via les « proxys » qui contournent la police du net, affublée par les jeunes du sobriquet « Ammar 404 ». Les forces de répression habituelles pourtant estimées à plus de 130 000 membres sont débordées et l’armée a été appelée en renfort dans plusieurs villes.
La nuit du 8 au 9 janvier a été particulièrement sanglante avec plusieurs dizaines de morts par balles à Gasserine, Tala et Meknassi. Assassinats, arrestations, provocations, intimidations, n’ont cependant pas entamé le moral des manifestants qui ont désigné dès le début les responsables de leurs maux : Ben Ali et sa mafia familiale.
Le régime de Ben Ali dans la tourmente
La crise du système capitaliste mondial a frappé un pays qui a ouvert la presque totalité de son économie par la libéralisation et la privatisation. Il a mis à nu les contradictions d’un affairisme de maquignons dénommé « miracle tunisien », qui devait selon ses laudateurs faire accéder la Tunisie au rang de « pays émergent »… Le taux de croissance officiel est divisé par deux depuis 2008. Les projets pharaoniques transformant le littoral tunisien en autant de parcs d’attraction, se sont tous écroulés avec la crise financière frappant les pays du Golfe censés apporter leurs dollars à cette formidable spéculation foncière qui a vu les « sept familles » (comme sont moqués les clans du pouvoir) faire main basse sur l’économie. Alors que Ben Ali se voyait comme un bon élève des puissances occidentales, aidant à juguler l’islamisme, le syndicalisme et l’immigration, les État-Unis se disent maintenant « préoccupés » par la situation, l’Union européenne se prononce pour « un suivi rapproché » des événements, et un problème de démocratie est soudainement évoqué.
Ces haussements de sourcils ne sauraient satisfaire un mouvement qui affirme de plus en plus vouloir se débarrasser d’un régime honni. C’est sur les autres peuples et non sur les États complices de la dictature que le peuple tunisien doit pouvoir compter.
De nombreuses manifestations de solidarité avec la révolte en cours ont eu lieu dans les pays arabes et les principaux pays où réside une immigration tunisienne. En France, des rassemblements se sont tenus à Paris, Toulouse, Nantes, Lyon, Marseille, Lille… avec la présence de la communauté tunisienne, de militants du monde arabe et d’organisations de la gauche française qui ont dénoncé tant la dictature de Ben Ali que la complicité de Sarkozy. On a vu affluer de nouveaux visages, le plus souvent jeunes, dont c’était la première apparition publique. Les barbouzes des ambassades et consulats tunisiens, habitués à harceler les opposants, ne montrent plus le bout de leur nez. Et c’est déjà un signe qui ne trompe pas.
La crise qui frappe les pays de la rive nord de la Méditerranée est celle-là même qui déstabilise les pays de la rive sud. Une raison de plus d’être solidaires. Ne relâchons pas notre pression, à commencer par l’exigence de la libération de tous les emprisonnés du mouvement !
Commission Maghreb du NPA
These Tunisia updates are very interesting. I hope this can be the start of a progressive movement in the area.
Tunisia is interesting because just a few years ago the neoliberals were claiming that the counry is a neoliberal "success" story. Yet the recent turn of events show that so called "prosperity" under capitalism is unsustainable and unstable.
Muammar Gaddafi condemns Tunisia uprising
Libyan leader claims protesters led astray by WikiLeaks disclosures amid reports of unrest in Libya
* Matthew Weaver and agencies
* guardian.co.uk, Sunday 16 January 2011
Muammar Gaddafi Muammar Gaddafi, an ally of Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali, said on Libyan TV that he was 'pained' by the fall of the Tunisian government. Photograph: Reuters
The Libyan leader, Muammar Gaddafi, has condemned the uprising in neighbouring Tunisia amid reports today of unrest on the streets of Libya.
In a speech last night Gaddafi, an ally of the ousted president, Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali, said he was "pained" by the fall of the Tunisian government. He claimed protesters had been led astray by WikiLeaks disclosures detailing the corruption in Ben Ali's family and his repressive regime.
The leaked cables were written by "ambassadors in order to create chaos", Deutsche Press-Agentur reported Gaddafi as saying.
His remarks came as Tunisian politicians hold talks to form a unity government to help maintain a fragile calm two days after violent protests forced Ben Ali from office.
Tanks were stationed around the capital, Tunis, and soldiers were guarding public buildings, but after a day of drive-by shootings and jailbreaks in which dozens of inmates were killed, residents said they were starting to feel more secure.
"Last night we surrounded our neighbourhood with roadblocks and had teams checking cars. Now we are in the process of lifting the roadblocks and getting life back to normal," said Imed, a resident of the city's Intilaka suburb.
Gaddafi's comments reflect a nervousness among other long-serving Arab leaders that the uprising in Tunisia will embolden anti-government protests elsewhere in the region.
There were reports today, backed up by video evidence, of protests in the Libyan city of al-Bayda, according to the Guardian's Middle East specialist Brian Whitaker, writing on his blog al-bab.com. Protesters clashed with police and attacked government offices, in a demonstration about housing conditions, according to an opposition website.
Whitaker writes: "We can expect to see many more incidents like this over the coming months in various Arab countries. Inspired by the Tunisian uprising, people are going to be more assertive about their grievances and start probing, to see how far they can push the authorities. In the light of Tunisia we can also expect a tendency, each time disturbances happen, to suggest (or hope) that they are the start of some new Arab revolution. The reality, though, is that almost all of them will quickly fizzle out or get crushed."
In Egypt, a human rights activist, Hossam Bahgat, said the protests in Tunisia had encouraged those opposed to the regime of the long-time Egyptian president, Hosni Mubarak. "I feel like we are a giant step closer to our own liberation," he said. "What's significant about Tunisia is that literally days ago the regime seemed unshakable, and then eventually democracy prevailed without a single western state lifting a finger."
Writing on Twitter, the Egyptian opposition leader and former chief UN weapons inspector, Mohamed ElBaradei said: "Violence in Tunisia now is a product of decades of repression. Regime in Egypt must understand that peaceful change is only way out."
In his statement, broadcast last night on Libyan TV, Gaddafi said: "Tunisia now lives in fear. Families could be raided and slaughtered in their bedrooms and the citizens in the street killed as if it was the Bolshevik or the American revolution."
In attempt to placate protesters Ben Ali had pledged to stand down in 2014 before he decided to flee to Saudi Arabia.
"What is this for? To change Zine al-Abidine? Hasn't he told you he would step down after three years? Be patient for three years and your son stays alive," Gaddafi said.
Gaddafi, who has been Libyan leader since 1969, urged Tunisia to adopt Libyan model of government. He said this model "marks the final destination for the peoples' quest for democracy. If this is what the events [in Tunisia] are for, then it has to be made clear".
* guardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2011
18.01.2011 @ 18:08 CET
EUOBSERVER / BRUSSELS - [Social Democrats] and conservatives in the European Parliament have accused each other of cosying up to Tunisian ex-dictator Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali, with senior figures in the French political establishment also tainted by association.
Left-wingers and human rights organisations have been strident in their criticism of conservatives such as French President Nicolas Sarkozy for his government's close ties and support of the ousted Tunisian leader.
But on Tuesday (18 January), after it was revealed that Mr Ali's political party, the Constitutional Democratic Rally (RCD), was a member of the Socialist International, the global alliance of centre-left parties, the RCD was expelled.
Martin Schulz, the leader of the left in the parliament, offered a mea culpa for its embrace of the party: "Now and again, we do discover that there are members of our own family and are shocked by this. They were however expelled today from the Socialist International, but it is perfectly true that he was a member."
He said that the uprising in Tunisia had been the product of "dramatic inequality", with "very rich elites and very poor masses" and that the EU "will have to work closely with other partners this side of the Mediterranean to ensure that democratic legislation can be put into place and social justice can be finalised."
He added that he hoped the instability was not going to spread from Tunisia.
Mr Schulz then used the opportunity to accuse his opposite numbers in the chamber, the centre-right European People's Party of cosying up to the ex-dictator.
"Recently there was signed a co-operation agreement with the EPP [and the RCD]. You can see it webstreamed," he said. "It is a really interesting party because they were a member of the Socialist International and the EPP too."
"Well, this is really interesting - I think this explains for me why the EPP hasn't attacked [Ben Ali's government and his allies] yet. They're willing to take anyone and everyone. Anyone can be a member."
A spokesman for the EPP told EUobserver that the Socialists seem to "have only discovered now in the last two days that Ben Ali is a bad man."
"If they've expelled them, well good for them, but it's been a quick conversion. The RCD was a member for decades. They were brothers in arms for the last 30 years."
"If you look at any of their big meetings, you see that there has been a full, wholesome partnership with the party in Tunisia all this time."
Elsewhere in north Africa, the party of Egyptian hardman Hosni Mubarak, the National Democratic Party, is also a member of the Socialist International.
The [social democrats] and Democrats in the European Parliament could not tell EUobserver whether this fact also came as a surprise or whether the NDP should also be expelled from the international [social democrat] alliance.