News / Africa

International Community Calls for Crackdown on Tunisia Violence

A military armored vehicle in Ettadhamoun, west of Tunis, Jan 12, 2011
A military armored vehicle in Ettadhamoun, west of Tunis, Jan 12, 2011
Lisa Schlein

Calls are growing for the international community to adopt a tougher reaction to the escalating violence in Tunisia. The criticism is particularly vocal in former colonial power France.

France has a front-row seat to the unfolding violence in Tunisia. Paris has longtime economic and political ties with its former colony and a large Tunisian diaspora lives in France. Not surprisingly, the three weeks of clashes between protesters and police in the North African country has been top news here.

On Thursday, the Paris-based International Federation of Human Rights notched up its estimated death toll in Tunisia to 66. The Tunisian government's own estimates are about 21 dead. The protests, which ignited over economic problems, have taken political overtones and there are calls for Tunisia's long-time president Zine el Abidine Ben Ali to step down.

On Wednesday, Tunisian police broke into the Tunis home of prominent opposition activist Hamam Hamammi and arrested him. Hamammi is head of the Tunisia Communist Workers party. Adel Thabet,  the party's representative in France, says there has been no word from him since.

Thabet said Paris should speak out more forcefully against Ben Ali's authoritarian regime. He is not the only one.

The United States, the European Union and France have all expressed concern about the deaths in Tunisia. But critics say the international community  - and particularly former colonial power France - should be more forceful.  A senior French Socialist senator, Jean-Pierre Sueur said he regretted the "silence" of French authorities.

While Mr. Ben Ali's regime is criticized for disregarding free expression and human rights, it has been a strong supporter of the West and the fight against terrorism. Analysts like Philippe Moreau Defarges say that puts France in a difficult position.

In an interview on French radio, Moreau Defarges says France and other western countries want democracy in Tunisia. But after 23 years of dictatorial rule by Mr. Ben Ali, the country may not be prepared for a swift democratic transition.

The Tunisian government has been scrambling to offer its version of events, suggesting extremists are behind the unrest. Tunisia's ambassador to UNESCO in Paris, Mezri Haddad, spoke on French television Thursday morning.

Mr. Haddad said President Ben Ali had no intention of stepping down. He must stay in power, he said, because Tunisia was threatened by fanatics and neo-Bolsheviks.

You May Like

Multimedia Social Media Documenting, Not Driving, Hong Kong Protests

Unlike in Arab Spring uprisings, pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong aren't relying on Twitter and Facebook to organize, but social media still plays a role More

Bambari Hospital a Lone Place of Help in Violence-Plagued CAR

Only establishment still functioning in CAR's second city is main hospital More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
The Legacy of Jimmy Carter: The Preacher from Plainsi
X
October 01, 2014 10:45 AM
It is common in the United States to see tourists flock to sites associated with America's presidents. Some are privately owned and others are run by the National Park Service or the National Archives -- but most have helped draw business and people into the towns and cities where they are located. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there is one particular presidential hometown that is unique in what it has to offer those who make the trip.
Video

Video The Legacy of Jimmy Carter: The Preacher from Plains

It is common in the United States to see tourists flock to sites associated with America's presidents. Some are privately owned and others are run by the National Park Service or the National Archives -- but most have helped draw business and people into the towns and cities where they are located. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there is one particular presidential hometown that is unique in what it has to offer those who make the trip.
Video

Video Hong Kong Protests Draw New Supporters on National Holiday

On the 65th anniversary of the founding of Communist China, Hong Kong protesters are hoping to stage the largest pro-democracy demonstration since the 1989 Tiananmen protests. VOA's Brian Padden visited one of the protest sites mid-day, when the atmosphere was calm and where the supporters were enthusiastic about joining what they are calling the umbrella revolution.
Video

Video India's PM Continues First US Visit

India's prime minister is on his first visit to Washington, to strengthen political and economic ties between the world's oldest and the world biggest democracies. He came to the U.S. capital from New York, the first stop on his five-day visit to the country that denied him an entry visa in the past. From Washington, Zlatica Hoke reports Modi seemed most focused on attracting foreign investment and trade to increase job opportunities for his people.
Video

Video Malaysia Struggles to Stop People Joining Jihad

Malaysian authorities say militant groups like the so-called "Islamic State" have used social media to entice at least three dozen Malaysian Muslims to fight in what they call "jihad" in Syria and Iraq. As Mahi Ramkrishnan reports from Kuala Lumpur, counterterrorism police are deeply worried about what could happen when these militants return home.
Video

Video Could US Have Done More to Stop Rise of Islamic State?

President Obama says airstrikes against Islamic State militants in Syria will likely continue for some time because, in his words, "there is a cancer that has grown for too long." So what if President Obama had acted sooner in Syria to arm more-moderate opponents of both the Islamic State and the Syrian government? VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports from the United Nations.
Video

Video Treasure Hunters Seek 'Hidden Treasure' in Central Kenya

Could a cave in a small village in central Kenya be the site of buried treasure? A rumor of riches, left behind by colonialists, has some residents dreaming of wealth, while others see it as a dangerous hoax. VOA's Gabe Joselow has the story.
Video

Video Ebola Patients Find No Treatment at Sierra Leone Holding Center

At a holding facility in Makeni, central Sierra Leone, dozens of sick people sit on the floor in an empty university building. They wait in filthy conditions. It's a 16-hour drive by ambulance to Kailahun Ebola treatment center. Adam Bailes was there and reports on what he says are some of the worst situations he has seen since the beginning of this Ebola outbreak. And he says it appears case numbers may already be far worse than authorities acknowledge.
Video

Video Identifying Bodies Found in Texas Border Region

Thousands of immigrants have died after crossing the border from Mexico into remote areas of the southwestern United States in recent years. Local officials in south Texas alone have found hundreds of unidentified bodies and buried them in mass graves in local cemeteries. Now an anthropologist and her students at Baylor University have been exhuming bodies and looking for clues to identify them. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from Waco, Texas.
Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.

AppleAndroid