Tunisians protest against police brutality in working-class areas Middle East News


Violent protests come after a high-profile video surfaced last week showing police stripping and beating a young man.

Clashes have erupted in the Tunisian capital when hundreds of young people came out to protest police brutality in working-class neighborhoods after the last death of a man in police custody.

Protesters were seen throwing sticks, chairs and bottles of water at security forces firing tear gas and detaining approximately several people in the Sidi Hassine area on the outskirts of Tunis.

Saturday’s violence took place three consecutive nights of protests after a young man was killed “in suspicious circumstances” in the neighborhood, according to the Tunisian League for Human Rights (LTDH).

The man died Tuesday after being arrested by police on suspicion of drug trafficking, according to local media.

Earlier Saturday, several dozen left-wing activists and residents of working-class districts demonstrated in front of the interior ministry in protest of the death for which the family blamed police.

In a statement, the LTDH denounced the violence suffered by citizens during clashes with police “in order to silence the voices of the protest,” blaming Prime Minister Hichem Mechichi, who is also interim interior minister.

Mechichi has denied the accusation.

Saturday’s demonstrations echoed past complaints following the death of a 19-year-old Club Africain supporter named Omar Laabidi in 2018.

Among the protesters were the mothers of three young men who died in the past three years after being arrested. They say they are campaigning for justice for their children.

Laabidi’s mother said she still hoped her son’s rights would be respected.

Authorities are also investigating a separate incident, which came to light after a video of what appears to be an officer in civilian clothes beating a naked minor came to light.

Police officers involved in the incident were arrested and the prime minister said the incident was shocking and unacceptable.

This incident also took place in the Sidi Hassine district.

Ten years after a revolution that overthrew Zine ruler El Abidine Ben Ali, Tunisian security forces have yet to see significant reform.

Agents are rarely prosecuted for alleged abuse.

Tunisia’s independent High Commission on Human Rights said on Thursday that incidents such as those of Sidi Hassine risked undermining “confidence in the state and its institutions”.

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