Activists Defy Protest Ban in Tunisia
Anti-government protesters clashed with hundreds of police in the Tunisian capital as they attempted to rally against government corruption. The Interior Ministry had banned demonstrations for Sunday in Tunis, and police attempting to prevent gatherings confronted protesters. In addition to claims of corruption and favoritism in the nation’s government, activists say the objectives of the revolution have not been met. One of the protesters, Ghada Ahmad, said, “We have to claim the right for an independent judiciary, an independent elections committee and to claim the right for better social and economic situation,” adding, “We haven’t been allowed to gather and to protest. We’ve been aggressed physically and verbally.”
Meanwhile, blogger and secular activist, Sofian Shurabi, was arrested Sunday for allegedly drinking alcohol during the month of Ramadan. Shurabi, who works for the Institute for War and Peace Reporting, became well known for his scathing criticism of President Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali’s policies prior to the revolution. “He may be charged with public drunkenness and breaching morality and could be jailed for six months if found guilty,” Shurabi’s lawyer said.
Additionally, Human Rights Watch (HRW) urged Tunisia’s elected National Constituent Assembly to address the draft law, which they claim lacks protection against the arbitrary removal of judges. Eric Goldstein, deputy Middle East and North Africa director at HRW, said “An independent judiciary is a key pillar of a democratic government. The assembly should adopt strong safeguards for judicial independence.” According to HRW, the draft law “would give the prime minister discretionary power to accept or reject the decisions of the council regarding appointments, promotions, and transfers of judges, thus perpetuating effective executive control over the judiciary.”