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

UN: 1 Million Somalis at Risk of Hunger

Group warns region is in dire need of humanitarian aid, with at least 200,000 children under age of five acutely malnourished as drought hits southern, central part of nation More

Human Rights Groups Allege Supression of Freedoms in Thailand

Thailand’s military, police have suppressed release of independent report assessing human rights in kingdom during first 100 days of latest coup More

Jennifer Lawrence Contacts FBI After Nude Photos Hacked

'Silver Linings Playbook' actress' photos were posted on image-sharing forum 4chan; Federal Bureau of Investigations is looking into matter 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.
Larger Than Life Chinese Lanterns Make Southern California Appearancei
X
Elizabeth Lee
September 02, 2014 8:57 PM
Chinese lanterns with a long history are lighting up in 21st century style at the Los Angeles County Fair in southern California. Visitors can see traditional lanterns that hang, but also lanterns in the shape of animals, iconic landmarks and many other objects, all created by artisans from a place in China known for its lanterns. Elizabeth Lee has the details from the fair in the city of Pomona.
Video

Video Larger Than Life Chinese Lanterns Make Southern California Appearance

Chinese lanterns with a long history are lighting up in 21st century style at the Los Angeles County Fair in southern California. Visitors can see traditional lanterns that hang, but also lanterns in the shape of animals, iconic landmarks and many other objects, all created by artisans from a place in China known for its lanterns. Elizabeth Lee has the details from the fair in the city of Pomona.
Video

Video Experts See Rise of ISIS as Significant Development

The Islamic State’s rise seems sudden. It caught the U.S. by surprise this summer when it captured large portions of northern Iraq and spread its wings in neighboring Syria. But many analysts contend that the group - which grew out of al-Qaida in Iraq - has been rebuilding for years. VOA's Jela de Franceschi takes a closer look at the rise of ISIS and its implications for the Middle East and beyond.
Video

Video Israel Concerned Over Syrian Rebels in Golan

Israeli officials are following with concern the recent fighting between Syrian rebels and government forces near the contested Golan Heights. Forty-four U.N. peacekeepers from Fiji have been seized by Syrian Islamist rebels and the clashes occasionally have spilled into Israel. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Jerusalem.
Video

Video Ukraine Schools Resume Classes, Donate to Government Forces

A new school year has started in Ukraine but thousands of children in the war-torn east are unable to attend because of ongoing clashes with pro-Russia rebels. In Ukraine's capital, patriotic education has become the norm along with donations to support injured security forces fighting to take back rebel-held areas. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video US Detainees Want Negotiators for Freedom in North Korea

The three U.S. detainees held in North Korea were permitted to speak with foreign media Monday. The government of Kim Jong Un restricted the topics of the questions, and the interviews in Pyongyang were limited to five minutes. Each of the men asked Washington to send a representative to Pyongyang to secure his release. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti has our story.
Video

Video Turkmen From Amerli Describe Survival of IS Siege

Over the past few weeks, hundreds of Shi'ite Turkmen have fled the town of Amerli seeking refuge in the northern city of Kirkuk. Despite recent military gains after U.S. airstrikes that were coordinated with Iraqi and Kurdish forces, the situation remains dire for Amerli’s residents. Sebastian Meyer went to Kirkuk for VOA to speak to those who managed to escape.
Video

Video West Africa Ebola Vaccine Trials Possible by Early 2015

A U.S. health agency is speeding up clinical trials of a possible vaccine against the deadly Ebola virus that so far has killed more than 1,500 people in West Africa. If successful, the next step would be a larger trial in countries where the outbreak is occurring. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
Video

Video Survivors Commemorate 70th Anniversary of Nazi Liquidation of Jewish Ghetto

When the German Nazi army occupied the Polish city of Lodz in 1939, it marked the beginning of a long nightmare for the Jewish community that once made up one third of the population. Roughly 200,000 people were forced into the Lodz Ghetto. Less than 7,000 survived. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, some survivors gathered at the Union League Club in Chicago on the 70th anniversary of the liquidation of the Lodz Ghetto to remember those who suffered at the hands of the Nazi regime.

AppleAndroid