Conflicts & War

Amnesty demands probe into repression of protesters in Tunisia

Tunis, Jul 21 (efe-epa).- The human right organization Amnesty International on Tuesday demanded the Tunisian authorities to thoroughly investigate the violent repression of El Kamour’s protests a month ago in the southern oil-rich Tataouine.

Last week, the protesters had already regrouped and stormed into the oil field, where they blocked one of its valves, to demand the government to fulfill the promises of investments and job creation made in 2017, when rallies were intensified.

 “Protesters in Tataouine, a city in the south of the country, were demanding the implementation of a 2017 agreement with the government to create jobs when police intervened to disperse the sit-in,” Amnesty said on Tuesday.

“Amnesty International has concluded that security forces arbitrarily arrested dozens of protesters and used unnecessary and excessive force, including through beatings and the deployment of tear gas.”

 “People are protesting because they’re living in difficult economic situations,” Amna Guellali, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for the Middle East and North Africa, said.

“Instead of beating and arresting them, the government should focus on addressing the underlying issues that have led people to come out onto the streets time and again”.

Amnesty called for a comprehensive investigation after reviewing photos and videos by protesters and local journalists and studying remarks by the interior ministry and local authorities.

“Only an independent investigation can deter the use of excessive force in the future. Anyone found to be responsible for having used force unlawfully, including brutally beating protesters and firing tear gas indiscriminately, must be brought to account,” she added.

Tunisia has been through a severe economic and political crisis that has been worsened by the impact of the coronavirus pandemic and the resignation of Elyas Fakhfakh as prime minister last week amid allegations of corruption.

Since then, Fakhfakh leads a caretaker government until President Kaïes Said names a replacement, who will have two months to gain the confidence of the parliament, or the latter will be dissolved and legislative elections – the second in one year- will be called. EFE-EPA

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