Ridha Yahyaoui

Tunisian and International NGO’s Express Support for Protesters

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Forty Tunisian and International NGO’s were signatories to a joint statement which expressed their solidarity with the protesters who took to the streets of Tunisia since the death of Ridha Yahyaoui in Kasserine on Saturday January 16.

A statement issued on Friday was signed by groups including the 2015 Nobel Peace Prize recipient Tunisian General Trade Union (UGTT) and Tunisian League of Human Rights (LTDH) as well as five international organizations including Article 19 and Oxfam.

The protests which grew out of Yahyaoui’s death, after discovering that he and seven others had been removed from a list of potential employment candidates maintained by the municipality, revived the 2011 Revolutionary slogan of “Work, Freedom, Dignity” and have called for employment opportunities and better living standards while denouncing government inertia and corruption.

Expressing their solidarity with the demands of the protesters the joint statement declared:

“We express our disappointment at the failure of the various Governments, which have succeeded each other since 2011, to chart an economic policy in line and consistent with the original claims of the popular uprisings across Tunisia since 2008 and were the source of the 2011 revolution.” adding “After a long wait that lasted 5 years and especially after the 2014 elections, the political class has shown its inertia when faced with legitimate aspirations for dignity and social justice.”

In addition to supporting the legitimacy of the protesters concerns, the statement called on the protesters to renounce violence and distance themselves from actors with divergent motivations:

“We call on demonstrators and protesters to avoid any form of violence and to be vigilant against any attempt to “recapture” of peaceful and legitimate protest movement of the unemployed by external parties whose sole aim is to destabilize the country and take the path of violence and terror.”

The statement was issued on Friday January 22 coincided with the declaration of a curfew throughout Tunisia.  Concerned over the impact of the curfew on peaceful protests Saloua Ghazouani, the Director of ARTICLE 19-Tunisia, added in an adjoining statement on Article 19’s website that: “The reimposition of the curfew announced today by is a step in the wrong direction, which limits the right to protest, protected by the Constitution and international human rights standards,” 

According to a statement in Tunis Afrique Presse (TAP) by the Hedi Hajdoub, the 8 p.m. to 5 a.m. curfew imposed Friday throughout Tunisia, will remain in effect indefinitely “until the security conditions improve”.  It is the first nationwide curfew imposed since the 2011 Tunisian Revolution.  The curfew does not apply to night workers or in emergencies.

A limited curfew had been declared immediately after the November 24, 2015, suicide bombing in central Tunis which killed twelve members of Tunisia’s Presidential Guard on November 24.  That curfew applied to the greater Tunis region (Tunis and the surrounding governorates of Ariana, Manouba and Ben Arous) and remained in effect for nearly three weeks after being extended several times.

بيان صحفينظرا للأحداث التي تشهدها البلاد التونسية في الأيام الأخيرة فإن الجمعيات الممضية أسفله:تعبر عن انشغالها العميق…

Posted by ‎النقابة الوطنية للصحفيين التونسيين : Snjt‎ on Saturday, January 23, 2016

The cites 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.