While respecting a nighttime curfew, across Tunisia protesters made use of the day to resume sit-ins and marches throughout the country which was entering a second week protests over unemployment, corruption and government policies. Unemployment protests resumed Monday in Kasserine, Medenine, Nabeul, Tozeur, Gafsa, Kef, and occurred mostly without incident except in Sidi Bouzid where tear gas was used when protesters attempted to occupy the Governorate’s municipal government office.
The protests began in Kasserine following the funeral of Ridha Yahyaoui on Sunday, January, 17. Yahyaoui, an unemployed man in his twenties, had been participating in sit in protests outside the municipal headquarters with other unemployed youth demanding municipal jobs. On Saturday, upon discovering that his name had been removed from a list job candidates maintained by the municipality, Yahyaoui climbed an electric post near the sit-in. Accounts differ as to whether he was climbing the post to deliver a speech or to make a suicide threat. Whether accidentally or as an intentional act of suicide, Yahyaoui came into contact with the high tension wires and was electrocuted. Yahyaoui was transported to the regional hospital in Sfax where he pronounced dead late on Saturday, January 16.
Some of the protests turned into violent clashes with police, including the initial protests in Kasserine. When incidences of rioting and looting began to occur (particularly in and around Tunis), and with the death of police officer Sofiene Bousslimi on Wednesday in the outskirts of Kasserine, most protesters made a concerted effort to separate there movement from opportunistic violence.
In Kasserine where there were no incidences of looting police and protesters made peace and the regional security chief for Kasserine even thanked those who had been clashing with police earlier in the week for taking part a cleanup effort.
The Ministry of Vocational Training and Employment’s website lists Tunisia’s overall unemployment rate for 2014 as 15% against a rate of 15.3% in 2013, and 16.7% in 2012. Youth unemployment stands in excess of 30% nationally and higher in certain regions, particularly the interior governorates of Sidi Bouzid and Kasserine.
Monday also saw a protest by around 3000 members of the Union of Internal Security Forces at the Presidential Palace in Carthage, that protest had originally been scheduled to take place a week ago on Monday January 18 but had been called off due to the unemployment protests.
Several other protests also took place in addition to or alongside the unemployment protests. A sit in general strike took place in Jedlyane in the Governorate of Kasserine, in solidarity with the unemployment protesters and to add voice to their demands for increased regional development.
Day laborers in Siliana also joined unemployed protesters at the Governorate Seat and are demanding a regularization of their employment status.
Independently in Rades, workers at the port staged a sit-in, the temporary day-laborers demanded a regularization of their employment status.
Approximately 120 employees of the National Union for the Blind are protesting in front of the Assembly of the Representatives of the People (ARP) in Tunis over two months of unpaid salaries.