News / Middle East

Tunisian Human Rights Lawyer says More Political Change is Needed

Multimedia

Audio
Lisa Bryant

For years, human-rights activists in Tunisia have been imprisoned and harassed by the hardline government of former president Zine el Abidine Ben Ali.  Now, they face new challenges as Tunisia faces an uncertain future.  Lisa Bryant interviewed one of Tunisia's most prominent human-rights lawyers, Radia Nasraoui, and reports from Tunis.

Radia Nasraoui's mobile phone rings non stop.  Make that several phones that she answers between conversations with journalists and colleagues.  She has just finished attending a meeting of Tunisian and international lawyers and human rights activists in Tunis to discuss the changes taking place here - long-time president Zine el Abidine toppled from power, a new interim government, continued violence, and an uncertain future for this North African country.

Nasraoui said the grassroots protests that ousted Ben Ali are only the beginning of a victory for democracy.  She believes all of those linked to Ben Ali's regime must leave power as well - including long-time prime minister Mohammed Ghannouchi and Tunisia's new transitional president, Fouad Mebazaa.

Nasraoui is also skeptical about Mr. Mebazaa's call for elections in two months.  Given the dearth of a credible opposition after years of one-party rule, she believes it is merely a ploy to keep the ruling Constitutional Democratic Rally Party in power.

She instead calls for grassroots democracy, starting with new town and village councils that will create a new constitution.  She says one is already being formed in the southern town of Sidi Bouzid, where the self-immolation of a man sparked the protests that toppled Ben Ali.

Nasraoui has long been a thorn in the side of Tunisia's ruling establishment.  So has her husband, Hamam Hamammi, spokesman for the Tunisian Communist Workers Party, outlawed under Ben Ali's regime.  

Police broke into their house and arrested Hamammi last week.  Nasraoui said he was released hours before Ben Ali fled the country on Friday.

But Nasraoui said Hamammi is still in hiding.  She says the couple still face threats from supporters of the old regime who want to exact revenge.  But she is still active - trying to ensure that tumultuous changes taking place in Tunisia will pave the way for a stable democracy.

NEW: Follow our Middle East reports on Twitter
and discuss them on our Facebook page.

 

You May Like

Video One Year After Thai Coup, No End in Sight for Military Rule

Since carrying out the May 22, 2014 coup, the general has retired from the military but is still firmly in charge More

Goodbye, New York

This is what the fastest-growing big cities in America have in common More

Job-Seeking Bangladeshis Risk Lives to Find Work

The number of Bangladeshi migrants on smugglers’ boats bound for Southeast Asian countries has soared in the past two years 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.
Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthroughi
X
May 22, 2015 10:23 AM
Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthrough

Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Europe Follows US Lead in Tackling ‘Conflict Minerals’

Metals mined from conflict zones in places like the Democratic Republic of Congo are often sold by warlords to buy weapons. This week European lawmakers voted to force manufacturers to prove that their supply chains are not inadvertently fueling conflicts and human rights abuses. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Class Tackles Questions of Race, Discrimination

Unrest in some U.S. cities is more than just a trending news item at Ladue Middle School in St. Louis, Missouri. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, it’s a focus of a multicultural studies class engaging students in wide-ranging discussions about racial tensions and police aggression.
Video

Video Mind-Controlled Prosthetics Are Getting Closer

Scientists and engineers are making substantial advances towards the ultimate goal in prosthetics – creation of limbs that can be controlled by the wearer’s mind. Thanks to sophisticated sensors capable of picking up the brain’s signals, an amputee in Iceland is literally bringing us one step closer to that goal. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Economy Sinks As Foreign Troops Depart

As international troops prepare to leave Afghanistan, and many foreign aid groups follow, Afghans are grappling with how the exodus will affect the country's fragile economy. Ayesha Tanzeem reports from the Afghan capital, Kabul.
Video

Video Poverty, Ignorance Force Underage Girls Into Marriage

The recent marriage of a 17-year old Chechen girl to a local police chief who was 30 years older and already had a wife caused an outcry in Russia and beyond. The bride was reportedly forced to marry and her parents were intimidated into giving their consent. The union spotlighted yet again the plight of many underage girls in developing countries. Zlatica Hoke reports poverty, ignorance and fear are behind the practice, especially in Asia and Africa.
Video

Video South Korea Marks Gwangju Uprising Anniversary

South Korea this week marked the 35th anniversary of a protest that turned deadly. The Gwangju Uprising is credited with starting the country’s democratic revolution after it was violently quelled by South Korea’s former military rulers. But as Jason Strother reports, some observers worry that democracy has recently been eroded.
Video

Video California’s Water System Not Created To Handle Current Drought

The drought in California is moving into its fourth year. While the state's governor is mandating a reduction in urban water use, most of the water used in California is for agriculture. But both city dwellers and farmers are feeling the impact of the drought. Some experts say the state’s water system was not created to handle long periods of drought. Elizabeth Lee reports from Ventura County, an agricultural region just northwest of Los Angeles.
Video

Video How to Clone a Mammoth: The Science of De-Extinction

An international team of scientists has sequenced the complete genome of the woolly mammoth. Led by the Swedish Museum of Natural History in Stockholm, the work opens the door to recreate the huge herbivore, which last roamed the Earth 4,000 years ago. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble considers the science of de-extinction and its place on the planet
Video

Video Blind Boy Defines His Life with Music

Cole Moran was born blind. He also has cognitive delays and other birth defects. He has to learn everything by ear. Nevertheless, the 12-year-old has had an insatiable love for music since he was born. VOA’s June Soh introduces us to the young phenomenal harmonica player.

VOA Blogs