News / Africa

Rights Group says 35 Dead in Tunisia Protests

Demonstrators clashing with riot police in a street of Regueb, 09 Jan 2011.
Demonstrators clashing with riot police in a street of Regueb, 09 Jan 2011.

An international rights group says at least 35 people have died in Tunisia during recent days of protests.  Protests in Tunisia and in neighboring Algeria are raising questions about the hard-line governments in the two North African countries.

There are striking similarities in the protests that have swept through Tunisia and Algeria in recent weeks.  Both were fueled by a toxic mix of high unemployment and rising the cost of food and other basic goods.  Both cast a spotlight on a restive and marginalized youth - and their authoritarian governments.

"There is a shared lack of employment, lack of opportunities and a greater distancing between the governments in each country and the population as a whole," said Analyst Claire Spencer, head of Middle East and North Africa programs at London-based think-tank Chatham House.

There are plenty of differences.  Algeria has a history of unrest, including a civil war  in the 1990s that left at least 100,000 people dead.  Spencer notes that by contrast, Tunisia is smaller, more stable and more homogeneous.

But both governments have been accused of having little tolerance for democracy and human rights.  While both have promised to address economic concerns, they have also arrested hundreds of people following the protests.

People are seen during a demonstration in Tunis, Tunisia, against high prices and unemployment, 08 Jan 2011.
People are seen during a demonstration in Tunis, Tunisia, against high prices and unemployment, 08 Jan 2011.


Reports say protests this past weekend left five people dead in Algeria.  The Paris-based International Federation for Human Rights says at least 35 people were killed in Tunisia during the same period.

The general secretary of the rights group, Khadija Cherif, is Tunisian by origin, says instead of trying to resolve the problem peacefully, Tunisian police fired on the protesters, accused them of terrorism and clamped down on freedom of expression, including the Internet.

The United States, the European Union and former colonial power France have expressed concern about the unrest in Tunisia and Algeria.  But analyst Spencer says the West has tended to downplay the lack of democracy in both countries, which are considered bulwalks in the fight against Islamist extremism in North Africa.

"I think the outside world should pay more attention to the fact that the majority of the population of both these countries are now demanding the same kind of rights of access to jobs and economic and political possibilities as in their close neighborhoods in southern Europe," said Cherif.

The Paris rights group has called for an internal inquiry into the roots of the unrest in Tunisia and an international investigation into the deaths.

You May Like

Turkish Public Fears Jihadists More Than Kurds

Turkey facing twin threats of terrorism by Islamic State and PKK Kurdish separatists, says President Erdogan’s ruling AK Party More

Video One Year After Massacre, Iraq’s Yazidis a Broken People

Minority community still recovering from devastating assault by IS militants which spurred massive outrage More

‘Malvertisements’ Undermine Internet Trust

Hackers increasingly prey on users' trust of major websites to delivery malicious software 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.
Iraqi Yazidis Fear Death of Their Communityi
X
Sharon Behn
August 03, 2015 2:23 PM
A year ago on August 3, Islamic State militants stormed the homelands of Iraq’s Yazidi minority, killing hundreds of men and enslaving thousands of women. The scenes of desperate Yazidi families crowding on the top of Sinjar mountain without food or water spurred Kurdish fighters into action, an emergency airlift and the start of the U.S. airstrike campaign against the Islamic State Sunni extremists. VOA's Sharon Benh reports from northern Iraq.
Video

Video Iraqi Yazidis Fear Death of Their Community

A year ago on August 3, Islamic State militants stormed the homelands of Iraq’s Yazidi minority, killing hundreds of men and enslaving thousands of women. The scenes of desperate Yazidi families crowding on the top of Sinjar mountain without food or water spurred Kurdish fighters into action, an emergency airlift and the start of the U.S. airstrike campaign against the Islamic State Sunni extremists. VOA's Sharon Benh reports from northern Iraq.
Video

Video Bangkok Warned It Soon Could Be Submerged

Italy's Venice and America's New Orleans are not the only cities gradually submerging. The nearly ten million residents of the Bangkok urban area now must confront warnings the city could become uninhabitable in a few decades. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from the Thai capital.
Video

Video Inclusive Gym Gets People With Disabilities in Fitness Spirit

Individuals with special needs are 58 percent more likely to be obese than the general population. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, they also have an increased likelihood of anxiety, depression and social isolation. But a sports club outside Washington wants to make a difference in these people's lives. With Carol Pearson narrating, VOA's June Soh reports.
Video

Video Astronauts Train Underwater for Deep Space Missions

Manned deep space missions are still a long way off, but space agencies are already testing procedures, equipment and human stamina for operations in extreme environment conditions. Small groups of astronauts take turns in spending days in an underwater lab, off Florida’s southern coast, simulating future missions to some remote world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Special Olympics Show Competitors' Skill, Determination

Special Olympics competitions will wrap up Saturday in Los Angeles, and the closing ceremony for athletes with intellectual disabilities will be held Sunday night. In a week of competition, athletes have shown what they can do through skill and determination. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Civil Rights Leaders Struggled to Achieve Voting Rights Act

Fifty years ago, lawmakers approved, and U.S. President Lyndon Johnson signed, the Voting Rights Act of 1965. The measure outlawed racial discrimination in voting, giving millions of blacks in many parts of the southern United States federal enforcement of the right to vote. Correspondent Chris Simkins introduces us to some civil rights leaders who were on the front lines in the struggle for voting rights.
Video

Video Shooter’s Grill: Serving Food with a Touch of the Second Amendment

Shooter's Grill, a restaurant in Rifle, Colorado, attracts visitors from all over the world as well as local patrons. The reason? Waitresses openly carry loaded firearms as they serve food, and customers are welcome to carry them, too. VOA's Enming Liu and Lin Yang paid a visit to Shooter's Grill, and heard different opinions about this unique establishment.
Video

Video Despite Controversy, Business Owner Continues Sale of Confederate Flags

At Cooter’s, a store in rural Sperryville, Virginia, about 120 kilometers west of Washington, D.C., Confederate flags are flying off the shelves. The red, white and blue battle flag, with 13 white stars representing the Confederate states, was carried by southern forces during the U.S. Civil War in the 1860s. The South had seceded from the Union over several key issues of disagreement, including slavery. VOA’s Deborah Block has the story.
Video

Video Booming London Property a ‘Haven for Dirty Money’

Billions of dollars of so-called ‘dirty money’ from the proceeds of crime - especially from Russia - are being laundered through the London property market, according to anti-corruption activists. As Henry Ridgwell reports from the British capital, the government has pledged to crack down on the practice.
Video

Video Hometown of Boy Scouts of America Founder Reacts to Gay Leader Decision

Ottawa, Illinois, is the hometown of W.D. Boyce, who founded the Boy Scouts of America in 1910. In Ottawa, where Scouting remains an important part of the legacy of the community, the end of the organization's ban on openly gay adult leaders was seen as inevitable. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.

VOA Blogs