Protesters in Tunisia have been holding anti-government demonstrations for the past four days against the worsening socio-economic crisis in the country.
Protests in Tunisia have entered their fourth consecutive day. Hundreds of Tunisians are leading protests across various regions of the country in response to the worsening economic and social crisis. Tension and frustration have grown over high unemployment rates, falling living standards, poor state services and public spending cuts mandated by an International Monetary Fund-backed loan program. The coronavirus pandemic has added to the economic and social woes, further shattering an economy highly dependent on tourism.
The army has since been called in since the protests began and at least 630 arrests have reportedly been made including that of human rights activist, Hamza Nassri Jeridi. International human rights body Amnesty International has called for Jeridi’s release in addition to condemning footage of army officials using excessive force.
“Even when acts of vandalism and looting occur, law enforcement officers must only use force where absolutely necessary and proportionate. Nothing gives security forces permission to deploy unnecessary and excessive force including when they are responding to acts of sporadic violence.” said , Amnesty International’s Deputy Regional Director for the Middle East and North Africa.”
Al Jazeera reports that President Kais Saied visited Ariana, which is a city near the capital city of Tunis, and implored protesters saying, “I know the state of poverty and I also know who is exploiting your poverty,” and going on to add, “Don’t let anyone exploit your misery.” Hundreds of youths clashed with law enforcement authorities this past Monday as the former traded gasoline bombs and stones for water canons and teargas with the latter, Reuters reports.
The underlying frustrations of the current protests are linked to how many Tunisians feel that the Arab Spring revolution, which took place a decade ago, has not delivered on the promises made to citizens who are currently battling poverty and hopelessness. The revolution began in the 2010s and comprised a series of anti-governments protests calling for regime changes which began in Tunisia and then spread to several other North African countries including Egypt, Syria, Morocco and Libya.