Renewed outbreak of police violence

Press release
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May 10th, 2011 – Four months after the fall of the Ben Ali regime, FIDH denounces the increase in acts of police violence during anti-government demonstrations. On May 6th, the Minister of the Interior apologised for the police forces’ brutal response to the protests. However, in the days following the statement, law enforcement officials continued to violently repress protests, which resulted in the death of a political activist.

On May 8th, 2011, Mahmoud Toumi, a member of the Patriotic and Democratic Workers Party died as a result of bullet wounds to his back. Police forces fired on him as he attempted to prevent young rioters from throwing rocks at a police station during a demonstration in Sliman, in the suburbs of Tunis. On the same day, the Tunisian police forces used tear gas to break-up an anti-government protest in the center of Tunis.

Since May 5th, several anti-government demonstrations have been held in Tunis. The participants are predominantly youth. Law enforcement has almost systematically stamped out the protests using tear gas and clubs. There have been numerous reports of violence against protesters and journalists. Fourteen journalists covering the protests for Tunisian and international media sources were the object of violence by police officers on May 5th and 6th in Tunis. A blogger filming an attack on a journalist during a demonstration on May 6th was threatened and severely beaten by undercover and uniformed police officers. Police officers also went to the premises of two governmental newspapers, La Presse and al Sahafa, and attacked a journalist. On May 7th the government decreed a curfew for Tunis and its suburbs for an indefinite period of time.

FIDH calls on the Tunisian transition government to put a stop to all violence against demonstrators and to open an independent investigation into the circumstances surrounding the death of Mahmoud Toumi.

FIDH is greatly concerned about these acts of violence and intimidation against journalists and bloggers. Furthermore, FIDH calls on the Tunisian authorities to respect and uphold international commitments and the rights to peaceful assembly, freedom of expression and information.

Contacts presse : Karine Appy/Arthur Manet + 33 1 43 55 14 12 / + 33 1 43 55 90 19

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