In 2011, after a peddler, Muhammed Buazizi, set himself on fire and triggered a revolution in Tunisia, the social movements spreaded to the other Arab countries and the process has been called as ‘Arab Spring’ afterwards, even the consequences were different country by counrty.
In Tunisia there were particular gains for the people and yet it was stil not adequate obviously. Today, the streets of Tunisia are overflowing with the people’s rage, demands and voice once again. And we have made interviews with the Tunisian youth movements, about the events and uprising mentioned above.
Before speaking about the popular uprising, can you inform us about the political and the social stage of Tunisia under the historical conditions of the country? If possible, with its originalities and similarities when compared to the other Arab countries which mostly devastated or identical, after the so called ‘Arab Spring’.
Tunisia suffers from a heavy heritage left by decades of dictatorship and “internal colonization”. It is obvious merely through the regional disparity that characterizes Tunisia. Power and wealth have always been centralized in some areas of the capital and the coast. The interior/inland regions and the suburbs of the capital remained zones of extreme poverty, unemployment, and a very weak infrastructure. Moreover, demographically speaking, the youth is the majority of the inhabitants of the country, deprived from their right to employment and suffering from the oppression of the police whether in stadiums or in popular neighborhoods, they are the catalyst for every action of change-making in Tunisia.
At the economic and social levels, the country is experiencing a severe crisis due to its dependency to the west and its monetary funds, the deficit of the trade balance, and indebtedness, which is rapidly dividing the country socially into a small group benefiting from the colonial model of production and a poor majority, due to the withdrawal of the state, the austerity measures imposed by the government to reduce its fiscal deficit as part of a deal with the International Monetary Fund to secure a $2.9bn loan, and corruption.
The common slogans raised by the peoples of the Arab countries during the 2011 revolutions are a proof of the common issues they share.
What is happening on Tunisia at the moment? What are the political, social and economic basis of the protests? What are the people’s demands and what can be the possible outcomes of the uprising? On which level the protests are widespread?
It is actually a snowball of measures and policies imposed by the government namely the austerity measures, the latest finance law, the reconicliation law (an amnesty towards corrupt old regime politicians, employees, and businessmen without holding them to account), rising prices, unemployment, regional disparity due to a limb development model, the state’s crackdown after the protests ( as almost 1000 persons have been arrested lately), corruption and nepotism. All these factors are nourishing the anger of the people, especially the marginalized.
The protests are spread in the capital and its suburbs ( Ettadhamon district, Tbolba…) along with different inland regions (Thala, Sidi Bouzid, Gabes)
In a perspective, is it possible to say that, the current events and the uprising, is the continuation of the 2011 revolution, which is failed to do its duties completely, against the Tunisian people’s socio-economic/class-based interests?
The revolution is not an event but rather a process, it is to be continued. So, yes the current events are the continuation of a suspended revolution with the same claims expressed in one of the strongest slogans chanted in 2011 “Work, Freedom, national dignity”
How did the – both Islamist and secular – neoliberal ruling parties, such as Nahda and Nida or Afek evaluating the events? Why these IMF related austerity regulations have been imposed to the people?
Liberal parties and forces of counter revolution as they are , they protect the interest of companies , Capital, and lobbies rather than the people’s interest. They turn a blind eye to social demands and deem it a threat to their power and reply, as aforementioned, with a crackdown.
The International Monetary Fund, aims actually at financing the repayment of the public debt to financial speculators through intense pressures they exert to make a so-called “structural reform”. This debt has nothing to do with the “high volume of wages” of public sector workers, a lie they kept spreading, but is the Trojan horse from the mafia in power. Tunisian people have never seen a penny of that ‘gift’.
Are there any particular political organisations leading the events? Are the demonstrations manipulable or can it fade away? As an important experience of united struggle, what is position of Popular Front in all these? How does your political organisation perceive these protests?
I would say that the political organisations in Tunisia are supporting rather than leading the current grass root and spontaneous events. Youth campaigns like like Manich Msamah (which translates as ‘I will not forgive’ againt the reconciliation law), Hassibhom (‘Hold them to account’ against police repression) and Fach Nestannaw (What are we waiting for?) are at the core of the social movement in Tunisia. The popular front supports the protests (the government accuses it of the current unrest though) .
I am a member of the campaign Manich Msamah that has led the biggest protests against the reconciliation law and is now part of the current social movement in Tunisia.
Azza Derbali (Manich Msameh- We do not forgive)
For the Turkish version of interview, click here.