Game NOT over in Tunisia

The cover of a new Amnesty report (out today) on Tunisia features a  photo (above) of a huge crowd in Tunis on 14 January, the day the president  Zine El Abidine Ben Ali exited the country for his bolt-hole in Saudi  Arabia.

Apart from a couple of Tunisian flags, the only banner visible is a biggish one saying (in English) “GAME OVER”. 

Well, they might have thought it was all over … but it’s not now. The point of the Amnesty report is that the “game” has only just begun, if by game we mean introducing real human rights reforms into Tunisia. 

This has been a running theme in my recent posts on the Middle East and North Africa. It’s all very well the media talking about falling dominos and people on Facebook welcoming Arab revolutions, but if it doesn’t achieve lasting human rights change then … well, it won’t have achieved enough.

Last night's Channel Four News report from Tunis made this point very vividly. Secret filming showed people being hauled off the streets by what were described as plain-clothed police. Reporter Alex Thomson said that they'd also seen people getting beaten as they were being taken away, but it had been too dangerous to film this. Plus ca change, some in Tunisia are clearly saying.“We do not have liberty", complains one Tunisian in the C4 report.

Another complaint being made (see the Amnesty report) is that there is no justice either. At least not yet. For instance, we still lack the details of a “Fact-Finding Commission” set up by (the now-departed) Prime Minister Mohamed Ghannouchi to inquire into allegations of excessive use of force, unlawful killings and torture by the security forces and others during the unrest in Tunisia.

Now people are back on the streets (and getting killed again) in Tunisia. There’s a distinct sense that things are not changing, or not changing quickly enough.

Tunisia may have started the "Arab Spring" but it really remains to be seen whether its own protest-turned-revolution will bring about the lasting human rights change it so clearly needs.

Despite (as it were) some of the fans being on the pitch, it's definitely not game over yet. 

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Our blogs are written by Amnesty International staff, volunteers and other interested individuals, to encourage debate around human rights issues. They do not necessarily represent the views of Amnesty International.
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