Laetitia et Amarum

Time spins! After an uprising which threw 23 years under the Ben Ali regime, it took only 2 months to feel that those decades took place in a distant past. Tunisia faces a challenging transition to a democracy and global economy, but Today is about Libya.

The Libyan transition has become more difficult in the last week, and the Gaddafi’s seem to have put hands together to face the uprising and control the oil, so they keep their dad’s war machine going. And so he aimed straight to oil reserves and refineries. The Libyan people were faster to understand the importance of oil, but forces pro-Gaddafi were merciless in their counter attack and were able to recapture, Azawya, Misrata, Ras Lanuf, Brega, and now are heading Ajdabiya. Yet, Benghazi is the stronghold of the Libyan people and will not be given up easily. Gaddafi is also not likely to win an urban war, unless he destroys the city of 670,000 people. Postal! This comes bitter, and announces, not the end of Libyan uprising, but a Libyan civil war. How long? damage? deaths? All will be discovered in few years. For me the question is: why does it take so long to impose a No fly zone over Libya?

The answer may come from Tunis, as secretary of state Hillary Clinton comes in a 24 hours visit on Wednesday. Officially to congratulate the people of Tunisia, but certainly to check up the relationship between the US and Tunisia in this new era. Tunis may keep the sec of state on hold and give her an answer on July 24th after the election of the constitutional committee . This time, it won’t be a blank check behind closed doors, as politics changed recently in the Kasbah. In the meanwhile, The cheikh of the Kasbah, Beji Caid Sebsi put himself under a hectic travel schedule, as he spends Tuesday and Wednesday in Algiers and Rabat to meet Bouteflika and Mohamed VI. For me the question is: Was it that important?

Thursday will certainly be a long day!

Laetitia et Amarum

Taste the taste of freedom

Things are quite interesting here, after years of monotony, Tunis seems like Beirut.

Lots of people marched to Tunis during the last weekend. They spent 4 night in the Kasbah in front of the PM office. I spent several days there, and witnessed solidarity between people who came from different regions and found themselves united in fighting the 1st coalition government. I also found myself caught in confrontations between protestors and police. There are rumours of people infiltrating the crowds and provoking these fights between the two groups. Yet more interesting, the Tunisian media was accused of taking a one-sided view that supported the coalition government. I have to admit that there a lot of signs showing the government using Ben Ali regimes tactics.
The 2nd coalition government was announced on Thursday night, a lot of people were relieved. Still, protestors were still in the Kasbah asking for the resignation of Ghannoushi.
In order to stop the protests and have protestors go back to their cities the government was violent, beating up people and throwing pure gas bombs at people. I hear seven people were dead just on Friday. I also hear thefire shots were heard in Kebili, in the south of Tunisia. I have fears the Tunisian police is not clean from its Ben Ali methods yet.
In the meanwhile, there is a lot of activity among political parties. The PDP already organized a meeting in front of 500 hundred people, with the rapper El General, who was jailed for three days and liberated on Jan 23rd. in the opening. El General was followed by a speech of Maya Jribi and Ahmed Nejib Chebbi.
The other story is the arrival today of Rached Ghannoushi. The airport was sacked with people coming, for the most part to support the returning exiled Ennahdha leader.
On the news, Tunis was topped by the revolution underway in Egypt. A revolution that Tunisians relate to you, and suppor
Taste the taste of freedom

Tweeting your revolution


wikileaks played a major role in fueling the anger / determination of Tunisians. However, the wikileaks reports only put further light on what we already knew. They confirmed our doubts and detailed the different events.
Twitter and Facebook played a very important role in our revolution, and I am confident that if we were not using social media we wouldn’t have accomplished our goals.
Social media empowered our communication infrastructure.
It countered the traditional media, the propaganda machine of our government. It allowed us to detect patterns that one would not notice if left alone, such as noticing that all the presidential police cars are rented (rented cars in tunisia have blue license plates). Traditional media fostered crowdwisdom, by sharing thoughts, feedbacks, and opinions. And finally on the battle field, we even used in the final hours of our government to share snipers’ positions. Then, the final demonstration was an event on facebook that everybody shared.
And now we are using to find the militias, and share their positions. There are volunteers working on developing web 2.0 applications to place events on maps.
More importantly, we knew how to tweet and we were hooked to facebook. Something, that our ennemy, including the state run media, and the brutal yet illiterate “intelligence”.
Other governments in the region are as blind as the ben ali’s regime. I hear Morocco blocked and contained a demonstration in front of the Tunisian embassy in Rabat, Syria is censoring what is happening in Tunisia. They didn’t understand that we do not demonstrate and we are not going to demonstrate in the streets until we know that we reached the critical mass, in the meanwhile we will be tweeting our revolution. And they can not beat us in our territory.


Tweeting your revolution

Tunisia today

Quick report on the situation:
4 prisons are empty and all prisoners escaped.
Militias coordinated by old security members are involved in looting, riots, and criminal activities
Army is taking over the security issues in the country.
The most “influential” tunisian corrupted business men related to Ben Ali are being caught in Tunisia, particularly in the Libyan Tunisian border.
New coalition government:
Chief of parliament is temporary president
Old PM is appointed to form a coalition governement.
People are happy about the changes even though the situation is relatively chaotic. We are proud because we obtained our freedom ourselves.


Tunisia today

Freedom day

Things are happening down here! An intense and agitated afternoon where rumours of pillage and attacks spread all over the place (As I promised I will write an article that showcases police role in this violence) Then it ended with Ben Ali’s speech:

Which at some point (5mn58) looked like this:


Ben Ali
Speech of Ben Ali

Very promising! huh?

The deaths and violence did not stop yesterday, and we saw, once again, the government’s propaganda machine at works: TV7.

We are not sure how things are going to be today.

But we are all determined. We will be free!


Freedom day

Violence unleashed

I woke up anxious and tormented and walked straight to the streets to see the remainings of last night’s battle. But, when i arrived to Cité Ettadhamen, Mnihla in the western suburb of Tunis. I wished I was blind, but the overwhelming smell of burining plastic would still describe the intensity of the violence that invaded this large underprivilidged neighbourhood.

Violence was unleashed and flames invaded most banks, a few cars, a bus, two pharmacies, a bakery, an electronics store, and several other shops, the city hall, the municipality, and the post office of Mnihla. Hundreds of people were shocked, they stood along the way in groups trying to know what happened last night. One could see that there was some pillage, and the shops that rioters couldn’t open were tagged. They wrote on them the famous slogan A.C.A.B meaning All Cops Are Bastards. Surprisingly, there wasn’t a single cop in the streets today. I mean no single cop, and that is very strange in Tunis.

What happened last night?

Yesterday cops were surrounding Cité Ettadhamen and no one could either enter or leave. It seemed like cops were preparing to “clean” the area and take control of it, after hundreds of people engaged in riots during the afternoon. I won’t be able to tell you much but it seems that troops with guns and bullets engaged with unarmed groups of kids. This morning the kids were still there, while the cops disappeared leaving some souvenirs of their passage. This picture may give an idea about the outcome of the battle.

where's the cop
Kids vs Cops


I decided to leave the scene, even though the scene wouldn’t leave my head. I headed to the University of Law of Tunis. University professors were protesting because of the murder of Hatem Bettaher, who was shot in the head by police forces yesterday. The professors were signing a petition and calling for a general strike tomorrow in Tunis, along with other worker’s union. They had clear demands, even though they were not acting under any recognized structure. Their demands included the liberation of all people detained in the last protests and the dilution of the house of representatives, and the counselors. I wasn’t able to obtain the full report but they will be announcing soon during the day.

The other news of the day is the pseudo press conference organized by Sakher El Materi, the son in law of the president and the strangely young and succesfull business man. He announced that he didn’t run away from Tunisia, but that he was just gave a ride to his wife who went to Canada. He also had an interesting discussion with @Emnabenjemaa who spoke openly with him about the recent controversies around his person. He certainly tried to negate the corruption accusations, but that didn’t seem to affect the people’s opinion.


Violence unleashed

The fall

What can i say? As I write you these words I am in tears. I saw everything falling down today. I felt that we are heading towards the abysse.

We heared, last night, of police in Cité Ettadhamen, a large and underprivileged neighbourhood in the western suburb of Tunis. So today we were determined to see what is going on. Around 15hr, we headed down there. As we got close we saw people running away, then we entered the main street to discover hundreds of people. Most people seemed to be blue collars, unemployed, or had daily jobs, they were not organised, and didn’t seem to be fighting or protesting. Police stood on the main intersection a few hundred meters away on both sides. There were large troops shooting lacrymogene bombs towards the intersection to disperse people, but police didn’t seem to be moving forward.

We spent a few minutes in a nearby rooftop, then decided to leave the place. As we headed back, hundreds of kids were flooding towards us, towards the intersection, and towards the police, chanting: “No police, No dicks, Only god can stop us”. The scene was chaotic and violent. It had nothing to do with the peaceful protests the workers’ union organized. This is police engaging in a battle in one of the toughest areas of Tunis.

Hearing rumours of protests in other areas downtown, we decided to check up the city. We did not see much on the main streets of Tunis, but we could feel the tension. Most shops were closed, people were in rushing, police was everywhere, and army troops were protecting certain strategic spots.

Soon after, the news of a curfew came down on us, like a wave of bullets that shot our hopes. To me, the curefew meant that the government was not willing to admit its failure. But what freightens me more than anything, is the instrumentalization of the violence to serve the interests of the current governement.

Before heading home, we decided to check cité ettadhmen once again. Police was in most areas, but in the few places where there wasn’t police, young kids were burning tires, barricading streets, and putting fire into banks or other institutions that symbolized the government.

At this moment I am broke! I am lost between dictatorship and government violence on one side, and anarchy on the other side. And even though I am weaker than ever, I will wake up tomorrow with the same determination I had for the last two decades, the same determination my fellow Tunisians have, a determination to obtain my freedom and justice.

The fall

Shoot me! you still can’t shoot my thoughts

Free Slim Amamou
Free Slim

Today was quite intense in Tunis. We started the day with the news of artists organizing a protest in front of the municipal theater in the main street in downtown Tunis, Avenue Habib Bourguiba. Artists were beaten up by police. Many of them were quite angry, and expressed themsleves in videos they posted on facebook videos, you can browse previous and next ones to see other artists talking.

The center of Tunis was closed, cops ordered shops and cafés to shut down by noon.

Then the news this afternoon is that protests broke down in cité ettadhamen and cité al intilaka, two major underprivilidged areas in the western suburb of Tunis. A friend was there tonight and got caught inside, police closed down the area. I am not sure if she managed to get out.

On my side I was near the airport a few minutes ago I saw three military trucks going either towards the center, the southern suburb, or going further inside the country. I was quite happy to see them, I opened my window, saluted them, and exchanged encouraging smiles with two soldiers. The military is seen as the savior, since our police turned out to be a terrorist organization. That is not my only my own opinion. Yesterday, protestors were chanting: “The ministry of interior, a terrorist ministry”.

On the government side, the minister of communication hosted a press conference where he announced that they set up green numbers to inform journalists, and are implementing regional news offices to inform the press. I believe these actions are fruitless, we do not want new ways to gather information. We want press freedom, journalists should go wherever they want, whenever the want and write whatever they believe.

The president in his speech yesterday talked about “mercenaries and bandits engaging in vandalism”. But there’s a sentiment that these violences are orchestrated by civilian police forces to reinforce the government position. Today, all we see on Tunisian TV are pictures of burned offices and accusations of vandalism.People feel the government is scaring us to justify its own existence and its power. Yet, we know that the protestors are us, and all we are claiming is our freedom, and every time we screamed for it we are beaten up. We know that the dead are our kids, unemployed and oppressed.

Tonight i was up for a drink with friends in the suburb of Tunis, but news of protests and clashes came down along with orders from the police to shut down the restaurant of fear of protests. A strange feeling that we were victim of this terrorist government propaganda who aims at spreading parnoia, thus justifying its own existence and its use of force.But, I know, I know, I know that I lived for 23 years under the same president, I know that my government is corrupted, I know that the police has always oppressed us, I know that i can not rely on traditional media to know what is happening in my country, i know that i can not protest freely, i know that i can not access hundreds of websites, i know that two bloggers are jailed right now, i know so much about this government that i do not want it anymore… And most of all, i know how all of this started, wasn’t it when Mohamed Bouazizi was slapped in the face by a police officer, and after he tried to complain to government officials without success he immolated himself.

Beware soon, I will turn to a bandit, a mercenary…may be soon i will become an insurgent or a terrorist just like an iraqi in iraq, or a palestinian in palestine.

Shoot me! you still can’t shoot my thoughts