Revolution in Tunisia: People power topples Ben Ali regime

Tunisian President Zine El-Abedine Ben Ali has been overthrown by a people's power uprising that has built momentum over the last 4 weeks, culminating in a large rally and protest on January 14 that was attacked by riot police. Ben Ali attempted major concessions, but they were too little and too late. After 23 years in power, Ben Ali and family fled the country to Saudi Arabia, joining former Ugandan dictator Idi Amin who was also given refuge in this middle eastern state.

Tunisia's constitutional council has now declared elections should be held within 60 days under section 57 of the Tunisian constitution, with the chairman of parliament as acting President. The Tunisian Revolution can inspire the world as people power toppled the dictator but the ruling RCD party remains in power for the moment.

Like in the Iran elections, Social media sites like Twitter, Facebook and Youtube have played a prominent role in mobilising protests. (The revolution was televised, you were just watching the wrong channel.)

The revolution in Tunisia may havealso been influenced by Wikileaks through the publication of US diplomatic cables which added to the public perception of the corrupt nature of the Ben Ali regime. You can read What the US state cables on Tunisia said which also provides an indictment of USA, France and other nations that bolstered the corruption and human rights abuses of the Ben Ali regime in Tunisia.

One of the sparks to this revolution was the death on January 4 of a young Tunisian protester, Mohamed Bouazizi, who set fire to himself on December 17 after police stopped him selling fruit and vegetables without a licence and confiscated his produce. His self-immolation and subsequent death triggered a wave of demonstrations across the country. (Antwerpen IMC: A young man's desperation challenges Tunisia's repression | story from Athens IMC.

Egyptian born journalist and columnist Mona Eltahawy, who writes on islamic and arab affairs for several major newspapers, said in an opinion piece, More Tunisias, Please: "Not once in my 43 years have I thought that I’d see an Arab leader toppled by his people. It is nothing short of poetic justice that it was neither Islamists nor invasion-in-the-name-of-democracy that sent the waters rushing onto Ben Ali’s ship but, rather, the youth of his country."

The Tunisian regime has been at the forefront of Censorship of the internet and public free speech by it's citizens. Government websites have been subject to cyber attack by people associated with online cyber activist and internet freedom group Anonymous. (see image on hacked website: Open Letter to the Government of Tunisia from Anonymous) In December and early January Tunisian police arrested and detained bloggers and social justice activists.

Reporters Without Borders on January 7 urged the authorities to release them as soon as possible. “These arrests, intended to intimidate Tunisian Internet-users and their international backers, are likely to prove counter-productive, by stoking up tension. Arresting several bloggers is not the way to get images of demonstrations deleted from the web or for cyber-attacks to be halted”, Reporters Without Borders said. “Stepping up the repression is absolutely not a solution to the crisis engulfing Tunisia today”.

Popular Tunisian music rapper El Général – real name Hamada Ben Aoun – was also reportedly arrested in Sfax, about 270kms southeast of Tunis. In his song, “President, your people are dead”, he challenged President Ben Ali over corruption and unemployment. His video is hugely popular among young Tunisians and widely circulated online. (Vidster: El Général » President, your people are dead - English subtitles)

By January 10 there were up to 24 dead in Tunisian uprising, followed by huge numbers of people out on the streets all over the North African country. Tweets report protesters being shot - with real bullets - in a growing number of towns as dissent turns into potential revolution. Some reports state up to 60 people have been killed so far.

One comment via twitter said: "Remember that nobody is mobilising the masses in Tunisia. This is a spontaneous movement by people who are so FED UP with it all."

The uprising in Tunisia is already giving hope to dissidents and popular movements across the arab world of overthrowing their own corrupt regimes. The Tunisian revolution has inspired many Egyptians especially political opposition leaders and activists to take to the streets in celebration of a free Tunisia while hoping and determined to bring a revolution to their own country, Egypt. (youtube video: a protest in Cairo by political opposition activists and citizens at the Press Syndicate in down town, Cairo.). The Egyptian regime of Hosni Mubarak fears mass protests.

There are reports from Libya that YouTube has been blocked, largely because the videos of protests are being uploaded there. One twitter comment has said "Citizens of Bani Walid in #Libya said they will continue to take the streets until their demands are met". (Videos: Three clips of protest in Libya in Beida, the third-largest city in Libya. Reports of unrest in Zuwara, Zawiya, Tajoorah, Bayda, and Benghazi.

According to Dyab Abou Jahjah, founder and former president of the Arab European League said in an article on January 13: "The effect of this is even being felt on the streets of Algeria where thousands of youth, who were copying the demands of "the Tunisian Intifada" as people are calling it now, clashed with police. Across the Arab world, peoples are experiencing hope, and the regimes are afraid: all the Arab people and all the Arab regimes."

More Information

January 14 Uprising in Tunisia:

For frequent just-in news on twitter use these searches:
#Libya #SidiBouzid #Tunisia #jasminrevolt #optunisia


Thanks Takver for this informative post - the story of the peoples uprising in Tunisia has largely been ignored by the Australian press so its great to have this resource.

This is truely an historic peoples uprising and is very dangerous for Western backed Arab dictatorships and U.S. influence as it is the most dangerous kind of uprising - a democratic, non-Islamicist uprising which is very hard for the Western powers to demonise in contrast to say the uprising the civil war in Algeria in the 90's. This is exactly the kind of movement that the U.S. and the West has helped suppress in the Arab world since the 1950's.

It has been fascinating to watch how this protest was ignored by the U.S. and Western media in contrast to the "Green Revolution" which was trying to topple the anti-Western government in Iran. The Government in Tunisia although it brutalised and tortured its own people was an ally in the "War on Terror" and with the U.S. Only after the uprising's success did Obama congratulate the brave people who fought and died for their freedom in Tunisia.

A really exciting world event - but I am sure the struggle will continue in Tunisia and the imperialist West will be co-operating with the local elites to try and prevent a true democracy flowering in the Middle East - true democracy in contrast to the rhetoric of the War on Terror is what is most feared by the U.S. and its allies.

Let it be known that while Anonymous' ability to contribute to such efforts may not be gigantic, those involved in this operation will gladly extend their support to any population anywhere in the world which is fighting against censorship and oppression. Our ultimate goal is to preserve the internet as a decentralized unregulated platform where anyone can express any opinion, and anyone can access any information which is posted. Freedom of information is the ultimate tool humanity has to advance the goal of freedom and enlightenment. Governments around the world have branded us 'cyber terrorists', but the truth of it is that the internet has become an entity independent of borders or boundaries, of government and corporate control, and we are simply a manifestation of this independent consciousness which will fight to the end in order to defend it. Anyone who would seek to control the internet will first have to answer to those who seek to protect it from control.

We are Anonymous.
We are legion.
we do not forgive.
we do not forget.
Expect us...

It's not people power it was the CIA that were behind this revolution.Wake up you brain washed thick heads!!!

How do you know this?
Or are you just another brain washed conspiracy nut?

Guess Ben Ali had his Berlin wall moment because he learned that someone else is holding the CIA at bay. In the aftermath of the Tucson shooting one top government executive who had retired from the program to pursue a political career could be driven so close to a total loss of face that it shocked the CIA and its counterparts enough to make an opponent of 23 years take it serious. Now Tunisians no longer need a dictator to protect themselves against it. Great.

No Americans, it's not your "Sputnik moment." This is your Bay of Pigs moment. The first one was when the CIA lied not only to the people but also to its handlers to escape abolition. Now it's not only a treacherous "National Intelligence Estimate" over the Persian nuclear program but treacherous cold war flashbacks in the President's mind as well. Here we go, baby.

Democracy Now special on Tunisia

The question is, how many of these 'people fed revolutions' were engineered?

Every once in a great while there will be a REAL people fed revolution against human rights abuses and corruption. However in the real world these are rare because people can easily be controlled by fear.

Any time I see half a dozen possible revolutions in progress, all in the same part of the world, all taking place in countries that have gove3rnments that are propped up by the US state department...all of whom are involved in the same "racket" (the War on Terror) and all of whim have become increasingly EMBARRASSING to the USA as people learn more and more from WIKILEAKS and other sources.

It makes me wonder what is going to happen next.
It makes me wonder who is going to step into the INCREASING LARGE power vacuum.

I start to wonder if maybe this was planned, or if the one in Tunisia is real enough, but the secondary revolutions might not all be legit. They could easily be being fueled by outside groups with an agenda.

Outside agitation has caused the fall of quite a few governments, and the CIA has been behind quite a few of these (some of which failed miserably).

Yes, the revolution in Tunisia could very well be real and 'grass roots'. It isn't all that big a country.

Lybia on the other hand is NOT the evil demon state that the USA has portrayed it as being. Their largest most offensive act to the USA was speaking to the Soviet Union (during the cold war) as if it really were an independent country like all the others (and we can't have that).

So yes, Momar is far from wonderful, but no where near as bad as has been portrayed. Far less horrible that the Saudies and probably a lot less nasty than half of Bush Babies group of pro-torture war mongers.

The question is, are the protests ANYWHERE ELSE really being done JUST by average people?...or have have these governments 'severed their purpose' in US terms? Is this another round of 'retiring' governments that are too embarrassing or who have done their job?

After all, many of these governments have been barely functional for a long time...surviving heavily because of support from the USA.

Just how hard would it be to send a few agitators into countries you do not care for?

Before making a definite judgment I want more facts and I want to watch VERY carefully to see what sorts of power games the west tries in this situation.

NOTICE..the Saudies (utter religious nut case, misogynistic fascist bastards that they are)...they have not HAD this problem despite being what they are, and as unpopular as they are. The youth of Iran are not on the streets..despite their utterly despising the current "Sunni" administration there, with its "Act righteous in public" and "do mostly what you like at home" enforced hypocrisy.

Outside agitation has caused the fall of quite a few governments, and the CIA has been behind quite a few of these (some of which failed miserably).

I have to wonder if somebody is trying to take advantage here

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