More protests expected in Tunisia after mass arrests

13 January, 2018, 05:56 | Author: Wade Massey
  • A riot policemen hide behind a wall during anti-government protests in Tunis

"Waving yellow cards - an echo of the "warning" card" flashed by soccer referees - protesters marching on administrative offices in the capital, Tunis, on Friday demanded the government reverse austerity measures implemented at the start of the year.

"We believe that dialogue and reforms are still possible", said Henda Chennaoui of the Fech Nestannew campaign.

Last year, the Washington-based International Monetary Fund agreed a four-year loan programme worth about $2.8 billion with Tunisia, tied to economic reforms.

A spokesman for the Tunisian interior ministry, Khalifa Chibani, said: "The protests have decline and there was no vandalism or destruction last night, but the police arrested 150 individuals involved in acts of vandalism and rioting committed in the past few days".

Friday's demonstrations were reported to be peaceful.

"We call on the authorities to ensure that people are not arrested in an arbitrary manner and that all those detained are treated with full respect for their due process rights and are either charged or promptly released", he said.

"Tunisian security forces must refrain from using excessive force, and end their use of intimidation tactics against peaceful demonstrators", Amnesty said.

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The UN says it is concerned about the number of arrests during anti-government protests in Tunisia.

One man died in the unrest on Monday night, but the authorities have insisted the police were not responsible for this.

A number of left-wing activists have been arrested by the authorities after officials accused them of fuelling the violence.

Tunisia's main opposition Popular Front had called for demonstrations through the week.

On Thursday, unrest was limited to sporadic clashes in the northern city of Siliana, in Sidi Bouzid in central Tunisia and Douz in the south of the North African country.

But the authorities have failed to resolve the issues of poverty and unemployment.

A nationwide march has been announced for Sunday, as the country plans to celebrate the seventh anniversary of its 2011 revolution that toppled authoritarian president Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali. Fire bombs were thrown at two Jewish schools on the island of Djerba, damaging the exteriors but not the insides.

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