16 July 2011 | Afef Abrougui
Special coverage Feature
Tunisian police brutally dispersed protesters outside the headquarters of the Cabinet yesterday (July 15). The protesters were calling for reform and were planning to launch a third sit-in at Kasbah square, which is the epicenter of protests in the Tunisian capital Tunis.
Amongst the demands of the protesters were the departure of the Minister of Justice whom they consider unable to fulfill his duties and, “bring to justice the killers of the revolution martyrs”, and the Interior Minister, Hbib Essid, who held key ministerial positions during the regime of Ben Ali.
Protesters also raised slogans condemning the exclusion of youth from the decision making process, and calling for the independence of the judiciary.
Security forces used tear gas and batons to prevent the protesters from gathering and launching the sit-in. On Twitter, Tunisians continue to record and update people around the world of developments on the ground.
@walidsa3d:Police is trying to disperse protesters using tear gas #kasbah3
@tunisien:Unhappy Tunisians are trying to start a peaceful sit-in and the police welcomes them with violence. #Kasbah3
Security forces also stormed into a mosque and used batons to beat protesters taking refuge inside it.
@walidsa3dCops stormed into the Kasbah mosque and drove out protesters using batons #Kasbah3
@ByLasKo:Les flics ont forcé la porte de la mosquée, tabassé et expulsé les gens qui s’y étaient réfugiés #kasbah3
the cops pushed the door of the mosque, beat up protesters, and expelled the people taking refuge inside
The following YouTube video features protesters taking refuge inside a mosque near Kasbah Square, chanting “Faithful to Martyrs’ Blood”. Some of them got suffocated by tear gas.
Dozens of protesters were also arrested. A message to free all those arrested was published on the blog Kissa-online:
نطالب بنفس الصوت العالي إطلاق سراح كل المؤقوفين (يبدو أن عددهم 48) وخاصة منهم المدونين الفايسبوكر محمد شايح و شهيد بلحاج وأمان الله منصوري.
We are calling out loud for the immediate release of all those arrested (it seems that their number is 48), especially bloggers and Facebook users Mohamed Cheyeh, Shaheed Belhaj and Aman Allah Mansouri.
الإفراج عن 26 من معتقلي القصبه, إحالة 20 على القضاء و تجنيد 35. #kasbah3 #kasba3 #tunisie #tunisia
26 of the arrested at Kasbah have been released, 20 to stand trial and 35 have been forced to join the army to do military service.
The brutal methods of the police in dealing with the protesters angered Tunisian bloggers and reminded them of the old methods of the former regime. Here are some of the reactions on Twitter.
@maroo_king: la #Kasbah3 n’était pas grand-chose (300 personnes) ! je suis pas d’acc avec ce sit-in mais je suis aussi contre la violence de la police !
#Kasbah3 was nothing (300 protesters)! I’m not supporting the sit-in, but I’m against violence exercised by the police.
@guellaty: Je crois que les policiers n’ont pas compris qu’on sortait d’un état policier.
I think that police officers have not yet understood that we are getting out of a police state. #Kasbah3
@Marwen:Sinon, je ne me reconnais pas dans la #Kasbah3, mais pour moi la pression de la rue est indispensable et les lacrymos n’ont aucune justif.
I’m not a supporter of #Kasbah3, but pressure of the street is necessary, and tear gas is not justified