The Tunisian General Trade Union (UGTT- regional Sfax office has maintained its call for a general strike on Tuesday, April 12, on the island of Kerkennah to protest overall economic situation on the island, the treatment of protesters by security forces and to demand the release of four protestors who have remained in detention since security forces broke up protests centered around the Petrofac natural gas production facility over the night of April 3-4.
The Ministry of the Interior said tear gas was used to disperse around one hundred protesters who threw stones and used tires to block a road outside Melita in clashes with police. According to the same statement the protesters then ransacked four vehicles, two cars and two buses used by security personnel.
However, the Tunisian League for Human Rights’ (LTDH-Ligue Tunisienne des Droits de l’Homme) Sfax-North office said that in addition to excessive use of tear gas the security forces chased protesters through the streets including into their homes. The LTDH added that injured protesters could not seek medical treatment for fear of retribution and more significantly that one of the individuals detained by security forces reported and bore bodily evidence of having been the victim of torture while in custody.
The Ministry of the Interior responded by denying any incident of torture had occurred and dismissed the LTDH’s claims, furthermore the Ministry called on the LTDH’s local office to ensure the credibility of its information and not confuse public opinion with false information.
The LTDH in turn responded by reminding the Ministry of the Interior of its obligation to investigate reported cases of torture before issuing denials, adding that systematic denial by the Ministry prior to investigation in cases of torture encourages its agents to believe they act with impunity.