Protests against police brutality spread throughout the Tunisian capital Tunisia News


Protesters block roads, burn tires and clash with police in the Ettadhamen and Intilaka neighborhoods of Tunis.

Protests against police abuse in the Tunisian capital have spread to several working-class districts more than a week after violence erupted in the Sidi Hassine neighborhood over the death of a man in police custody.

Protesters gathered in Ettadhamen and Intilaka, among the poorest districts of the capital, on Wednesday afternoon, blocked roads, burned tires and threw stones at police, while officers chased protesters and fired tear gas.

Last week, a video of police stripping and beating a young man shared on social media sparked widespread anger among the public. A few days later, the death of a man in police custody provoked protests in Sidi Hassine, on the outskirts of Tunis.

The man was arrested on suspicion of drug trafficking, but the family accused police of beating him to death. Tunisian Prime Minister Hichem Mechichi, who is also interim interior minister, has denied the allegation.

On Tuesday, hundreds of people gathered in Sidi Hassine with slogans against the government and called on officials to stop police abuses and punish those involved.

They sang, “Freedom, freedom, the police state is over.”

Serious offenses

The UN human rights office in Tunisia said on Monday it was concerned about repeated allegations of serious violations by Tunisian police amid violent protests.

Forty-three organizations, including the journalists ’union, the unions, the lawyers’ union and the Human Rights League, called for a massive national protest on Friday to end what they say is police impunity.

They said they filed a lawsuit against Prime Minister Mechichi.

More than a decade after the revolutionary protests of the Arab Spring against poverty, injustice and a police state, Tunisia has made progress towards democracy, but its economic problems have worsened, prompting repeated protests.

During the last protests in January, police arrested more than 2,000 people, most of them minors.

Human rights organizations said hundreds of them had been subjected to ill-treatment and torture.

Human rights activists said police abuses threatened to undermine the democratic gains made since the overthrow of President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali’s repressive regime in 2011.

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