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Freedom House Condemns Attacks Against Protesters in Tunisia
Freedom House strongly condemns recent violence against protesters in Tunisia and calls on the government to respect the fundamental right of Tunisians to demonstrate peacefully.
On the evening of August 5, peaceful protesters attempting to stage a demonstration on Avenue Habib Bourguiba in downtown Tunis were beaten and chased after police ordered them to disperse. According to numerous witnesses, police beat protesters on the head and body, harassed journalists, and confiscated camera equipment from those attempting to document the events.
"These tactics are unacceptable for a democratic country that seeks to respect basic human rights and are in direct contravention of the government’s commitment to move away from the repressive methods of the Ben Ali era," said Charles Dunne, director of Middle East and North Africa Programs at Freedom House, "The Tunisian government is responsible for ensuring the safety of all citizens and should take all necessary measures to ensure that police do not harm peaceful demonstrators."
The demonstration had been scheduled to protest the provisional government's handling of recent water crises, as well as proposals to provide compensation to political prisoners of the previous regime and draft laws which would criminalize blasphemy in Tunisia for the first time. Sunday's events were particularly troubling in light of the inability of police to curb a recent uptick in violence perpetrated by extremist religious elements and the harsh police crackdown which occurred against labor rights protesters on Avenue Habib Bourguiba in April.