imc indymedia

Los Angeles Indymedia : Activist News

white themeblack themered themetheme help
About Us Contact Us Calendar Publish RSS
latest news
best of news




A-Infos Radio

Indymedia On Air

Dope-X-Resistance-LA List


IMC Network:

Original Cities africa: ambazonia canarias estrecho / madiaq kenya nigeria south africa canada: hamilton london, ontario maritimes montreal ontario ottawa quebec thunder bay vancouver victoria windsor winnipeg east asia: burma jakarta japan korea manila qc europe: abruzzo alacant andorra antwerpen armenia athens austria barcelona belarus belgium belgrade bristol brussels bulgaria calabria croatia cyprus emilia-romagna estrecho / madiaq euskal herria galiza germany grenoble hungary ireland istanbul italy la plana liege liguria lille linksunten lombardia london madrid malta marseille nantes napoli netherlands nice northern england norway oost-vlaanderen paris/Île-de-france patras piemonte poland portugal roma romania russia saint-petersburg scotland sverige switzerland thessaloniki torun toscana toulouse ukraine united kingdom valencia latin america: argentina bolivia chiapas chile chile sur cmi brasil colombia ecuador mexico peru puerto rico qollasuyu rosario santiago tijuana uruguay valparaiso venezuela venezuela oceania: adelaide aotearoa brisbane burma darwin jakarta manila melbourne perth qc sydney south asia: india mumbai united states: arizona arkansas asheville atlanta austin baltimore big muddy binghamton boston buffalo charlottesville chicago cleveland colorado columbus dc hawaii houston hudson mohawk kansas city la madison maine miami michigan milwaukee minneapolis/st. paul new hampshire new jersey new mexico new orleans north carolina north texas nyc oklahoma philadelphia pittsburgh portland richmond rochester rogue valley saint louis san diego san francisco san francisco bay area santa barbara santa cruz, ca sarasota seattle tampa bay tennessee urbana-champaign vermont western mass worcester west asia: armenia beirut israel palestine process: fbi/legal updates mailing lists process & imc docs tech volunteer projects: print radio satellite tv video regions: oceania united states topics: biotech

Surviving Cities africa: canada: quebec east asia: japan europe: athens barcelona belgium bristol brussels cyprus germany grenoble ireland istanbul lille linksunten nantes netherlands norway portugal united kingdom latin america: argentina cmi brasil rosario oceania: aotearoa united states: austin big muddy binghamton boston chicago columbus la michigan nyc portland rochester saint louis san diego san francisco bay area santa cruz, ca tennessee urbana-champaign worcester west asia: palestine process: fbi/legal updates process & imc docs projects: radio satellite tv
printable version - js reader version - view hidden posts - tags and related articles

Tunisia: Talking About A Revolution

by Anonymous Wednesday, Jan. 19, 2011 at 9:03 AM

Lina Ben Mhenni … is a Tunisian assistant lecturer in linguistics at Tunis University and a blogger. Lina is mainly blogging about freedom of speech, human rights (especially women’s rights and students’ rights), social problems, and organ donation awareness. She likes photography, reading, writing, watching movies. Lina is also an athlete but within a special team: The Tunisian National Organ Transplant Team.

Tunisia: Talking Abo...
dsc05230.jpg, image/jpeg, 1600x1200

In Tunisia two weeks ago unrest started when a young Tunisian man, Mohamed Bouazizi, set himself on fire to protest the country’s high unemployment rate. The incident, which took place in the provincial town of Sidi Bouzid, became the catalyst that sparked widespread protest and riots that have become a referendum on the government of President Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali. Protesters are calling for an end to corruption, nepotism, and restrictions on basic freedoms. There have been reports of Tunisian security forces opening fire on protesters as well as large scale arrests and torture of prisoners. Although traditional media in Tunisia is heavily restricted and authorities have sophisticated methods for repressing internet freedom, reports of the protests have spread through non-traditional forms of media as bloggers and regular citizens have been tracking the events.

Despite constitutional guarantees of freedom of expression and association, the government uses an array of legal, penal and economic measures to silence dissenting voices. In June of this year, Tunisia’s Parliament passed a law that criminalizes opposition activities. Journalists and bloggers as well as human rights activists and voices of political dissent are routinely harassed, arrested and imprisoned. The state strictly monitors and severely curbs the work of opposition parties.

WE conducted this interview with Lina Ben Mhenni, a young Tunisian activist and blogger, on December 30, 2010, two and a half weeks after the unrest in Tunisia started.

By now it has spread to Egypt.





Lina, when did you start blogging and why?

Lina Ben Mhenni (Lina):

I started blogging in 2007. First I was expressing my thoughts and feelings on how we live in Tunisia. I wrote about small social problems. Sometimes I wrote poetry.

In 2008 I went to the US, I was lucky enough to get a Fullbright scholarship. Two weeks after my arrival I noticed the censorship of Facebook back home. With some bloggers we launched a campaign against the censorship of Facebook and I started to write about it. Then Sami Ben Gharbia, director of Global Voices Advocacy and Tunisian native, asked me to write for Global Voices. Back then I joined them and my first blogpost dealt with censorship in Tunisa.


Your personal blog is censored in Tunisia, isn’t it?


Yes. They blocked it in February 2009, as well as my Facebook profile and most recently, actually only 2 hours ago, they censored my Twitter account.

The very first time I experienced censorship at all was when I was running a blog together with a dissident journalist in 2008. They just shut it down … they don’t give you any kind of warning.


Why do you call the unrest in Tunisia a revolution and not riots?


Because it is coming from the citizens. It is not the opposition which is monitoring this. It is just the people who are fed up with dictatorship, they are tired of our current system. The people are expressing themselves and say no to the existing situation in the country. It is a grass roots movement – and this is why I want to call it revolution. And from the people’s side, it is a peaceful revolution.


How would you describe the current situation in Tunisia?


Let’s face the truth: Tunisia is a police state. There is no doubt on this. People are afraid of express-ing themselves, if they say anything wrong prison is waiting. This is tough! There is no freedom of speech in Tunisia. Media is controlled by the government. There are no independent TV channels or radio stations or newspapers. Even the so-called “private” media is owned by family members of the President.

And also the economic situation is not really good, even though Tunisia is doing well in comparison to other African countries. But people are suffering: unemployment rates are very high, living costs are very high – it is hard to make a living and to find a job!


Lina, could you please give us a brief timeline of what happened so far during this revolution?


The trigger for this revolution was the fact that a young unemployed man, Mohamed Bouazizi, set him- self on fire to protest the country’s high unemployment rate. This was in Sidi Bouzid. From there the riots spread to other areas in the country. And instead of trying to find a solution, the government repressed the movement and they even shot and killed some people.

After the first suicide, another young man killed himself. This second incident was in my eyes the main reason why the movement really expanded all over Tunisia. People were very angry and started protesting …


How is the situation right now in Tunis where you are based?


Protests started in Tunis last Saturday (Dec. 25 2010) to support the citizens of Sidi Bouzid. The police was trying to suppress the demonstrations in a very violent way. They were brutal. After that another demonstration was organized – at which the number of policemen outnumbered the protestors. Four demonstrators were seriously injured and the police prevented them from being taken to the hospital. Actually today two demonstrations were planned, but they didn’t happen because of the massive police presence.


As far as I am informed many lawyers take part in the protests. What role do they play?


On December 26, lawyers organized a demonstration in front of the court house of Tunis. They where shouting slogans against dictatorship, against unemployment, against the ruling family and the President. In the afternoon of the same day two lawyers were arrested and held overnight in prison. They were released the next morning and one of them was mistreated, bodily harmed.


How do protesters communicate between the cities from city to city?


We are using Facebook, cell phones and twitter. But since two days all of these tools are censored – we cannot upload videos any more, our profiles are blocked, even our Twitter accounts are blocked. So communication becomes harder. Today they even shut down temporarily the mobile infrastructure, because we were live streaming with our cell phones from the events.


Who is going in the streets?


It depends on the areas. But usually they are young people, students. But there are also lawyers, doctors, teachers, unemployed men and women – all people are expressing their anger right now.


Is there any chance of the people succeeding?


Until today I would say YES, there is a real chance that change will happen.

After the President’s public speech on television in which he was threatening the people and putting pressure on them NOT to join the protests, people are still going out to demonstrate … this is new. We never experienced anything like that before!

In 2008 people went on the streets. But it remained local. It didn’t expand into other areas of the country. This time it is different – it is expanding all over Tunisia and people don’t allow the government to intimidate them.

This really gives me hope!


What kind of change do you want to see?


No more dictatorship! We want to get rid of the people who are ruling the country. We want to have freedom, we want to have justice. We want to be treated as free citizens! We don’t need corruption any more! The reigning family is controlling anything, they are stealing the country’s money. We don’t want this any more!


Why is this happening right NOW?


To be honest, I don’t know.

Maybe after 23 years of dictatorship, people are simply fed up. They are tired of all of this.

This young man who killed himself by setting himself on fire – he really made a point. This was real. It was tough and shocking! Such a thing never happened before. And somehow it sets people free. Now they show how they feel. Many of them are going out on the streets – people can’t stand the situation any more.

And of course the Internet and all the social media tools helped a lot. People are now able to see what is really happening in Sidi Bouzid, now they are aware of the real situation. No filters in between.

Until recently we only received the “official version” of what is going on. Officials were drawing “our” picture of Tunisia, everything in their documentaries seemed to be O.K.

But now with the development of the technology it is different. Government can’t lie any more! And if they do so, people will unveil it.


What are your personal expectations?


I hope that people will resist.

Tunisia has to overcome censorship.

We, the people want to see real solution – solutions based upon citizen needs, our needs. We really want things to start to change.


Is there any kind of dialogue going on between the government and the protestors?


No, not at all.

The only communication is the violence of the police!


Is there at least a chance for communication?


No, I don’t think so. The President’s speech – he gave one so far during the unrest, I think it was on December 27, 2010 – only aimed to threaten the demonstrators. No sign of giving in. He is not reaching out his hands to us …


What is going to happen next Lina?


Probably they will block more websites, once in a while they will shut down mobile communication …

I don’t know what is going to happen next.

I hope it will remain peaceful and that the violence won’t escalate.


What role does Tunisia play in Africa?


I am not sure how to answer this question.

I would say Tunisia is much more integrated and related to the Middle East than to Africa. We don’t really have big relationships with the rest of the continent. We are more an Arabic country …


What can foreign countries do to help the people in Tunisia?


The EU and the United States should put pressure on our government.

All we want is a basic human right: the freedom of speech. We, the people, need free media … Then our country can flourish. Not only the President’s family but WE as a democratic nation.


Thank you very much for this interview Lina. And all the best for you and your country!

Facts about Tunisia – according to Wikipedia:

Tunisia is the northernmost country in Africa. It is a Maghreb country, bordered by Algeria to the west, Libya to the southeast, and the Mediterranean Sea to the north and east. Its area is almost 165,000 km², with an estimated population of just over 10.3 million. Tunisia has close relations with both the European Union – with whom it has an association agreement – and the Arab world.

Tunisia has a diverse economy, ranging from agriculture, mining and manufacturing to petroleum products and tourism. The industrial sector is mainly made up of clothing and footwear manufacturing, production of car parts, and electrical machinery. Although Tunisia managed an average 5% growth over the last decade it continues to suffer from high unemployment especially among youth. Tunisia was ranked the most competitive economy in Africa and the 40th in the world by the World Economic Forum. Tunisia has managed to attract many international companies such as Airbus and Hewlett-Packard.

Since 1987 Tunisia has formally reformed its political system several times, abolishing life presidency and opening up the parliament to opposition parties. The President’s official speeches are full of references to the importance of democracy and freedom of speech.

According to Amnesty International, “the Tunisian government is misleading the world as it conveys a positive image of the human rights situation in the country while abuses by its security forces continue unabated and are committed with impunity”.

Tunisia practices some Internet censorship, including the blocking of certain websites, such as YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, Daily Motion and others, Reporters Without Borders includes Tunisia in the country list of ‘Enemies of the Internet’ together with North Korea, Saudi Arabia and Turkmenistan. In January 2010 US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton sighted Tunisia and China as the two countries with the greatest internet censorship.

The state owned ‘Publinet’ internet network has more than 1.1 million users. The Tunisian netizens are the most connected community on Facebook in North Africa.

Report this post as:

Local News

Change Links September 2018 posted S02 10:22PM

More Scandals Rock Southern California Nuke Plant San Onofre A30 11:09PM

Site Outage Friday A30 3:49PM

Change Links August 2018 A14 1:56AM

Setback for Developer of SC Farm Land A12 11:09PM

More problems at Shutdown San Onofre Nuke J29 10:40PM

Change Links 2018 July posted J09 8:27PM

More Pix: "Families Belong Together," Pasadena J02 7:16PM

"Families Belong Together" March, Pasadena J02 7:08PM

Short Report on the Families Belong Together Protest in Los Angeles J30 11:26PM

Summer 2018 National Immigrant Solidarity Network News Alert! J11 6:58AM

Watch the Debate: Excluded Candidates for Governor of California M31 5:20AM

Change Links June 2018 posted M28 7:41AM

The Montrose Peace Vigil at 12 Years M22 8:01PM

Unity Archive Project M21 9:42AM

Dianne Feinstein's Promotion of War, Secret Animal Abuse, Military Profiteering, Censorshi M17 10:22PM

CA Senate Bill 1303 would require an independent coroner rather than being part of police M10 9:08PM

Three years after OC snitch scandal, no charges filed against sheriffs deputies M10 8:57PM

California police agencies violate Brown Act (open meetings) M02 8:31PM

Insane Company Wants To Send Nuke Plant Waste To New Mexico A29 11:47PM

Change Links May 2018 A27 8:40AM

Worker-Owned Car Wash on Vermont Closed A27 5:37AM


lausd whistle blower A11 6:58AM

Website Upgrade A10 10:02AM

Help KCET and UCLA identify 60s-70s Chicano images A04 8:02PM

UCLA Luskin: Casting Youth Justice in a Different Light A02 6:58PM

Change Links April 2018 A01 6:27PM

More Local News...

Other/Breaking News

Cybermonde, cyberguerre, cyberespace, cyberterrorisme S24 6:35AM

Paraphysique de psychosomatique S22 6:58AM

Chuck Grassley: Women Abusing, Animal Murdering, Illegal War Supporting Criminal S22 2:58AM

Finance Capitalism and the Digital Economy S21 4:45PM

Muselières syndicales, muselières patronales S21 7:19AM

Jeff Bezos, Amazon, The Washington Post, Whole Foods, Etc S21 2:50AM

Why Choose Nut Milk Over Cows' Milk S21 1:01AM

Antrhopocène, le grand effondrement S19 9:53AM

Abolir l'économie S18 11:18AM

The Dictatorship of Corporations S17 5:26PM

18 Lethal Consequences Of Hunting S17 3:13PM

Paraphysique de l'outplacement déontologue S15 6:51AM

Shopping du bashing S14 8:42AM

After Lehman Brothers, Experts Say Global Financial Crisis Can Happen Again S13 8:28PM

“Animaniacs in Concert!” Starring Voice Legend Rob Paulsen S12 9:30PM

Probabilités de fin d'humanité S12 6:49AM

Florida Area of Migrant Farmworkers Denied Right to Construct Health Clinic near NaplesCIW S11 2:57AM

Steer clear of work morality! S09 12:10PM

The Shortwave Report 09/07/18 Listen Globally! S06 11:23PM

August 2018 Honduras Coup update S06 12:28PM

Brett Kavanaugh Filled The 5th Circuit With Execution Judges S06 6:14AM

Augusta Georgia Woman Gets 5 Year Prison Sentence for Writing About Russians Crime Acts S05 8:29AM

Paraphysique de contextualité S05 8:29AM

Crisis Regulation in Global Capitalism S03 3:39PM

Ex-voto de réification S03 10:24AM

Please Oppose Warmonger, Execution and Torture Supporting Bush Operative Brett Kavanaugh A31 10:45PM

Paraphysique d'exploitation occultation A31 10:24PM

Ryan Zinke Is Charging Taxpayers For A Trophy Hunters' Council A31 2:10PM

More Breaking News...
© 2000-2018 Los Angeles Independent Media Center. Unless otherwise stated by the author, all content is free for non-commercial reuse, reprint, and rebroadcast, on the net and elsewhere. Opinions are those of the contributors and are not necessarily endorsed by the Los Angeles Independent Media Center. Running sf-active v0.9.4 Disclaimer | Privacy