Thursday, September 30, 2010

Tunisia's repression

Khelil sent me this (I cite with his permission):  "Anyway, reading Robert Worth it is B.S. to state that Syria "may be the most restrictive of all", this dishonor goes without question to Tunisia. As a Tunisian I closely follow repression there, and since 2001 the Ben Ali regime has imprisoned more journalists than any other Arab country according to the Committee for the Protection of Journalists. Which also writes that Tunisia has "prompted more alerts and reports and letters to its president than any other Arab ruler from international groups committed to freedom of expression." And this is a 10.3million nation with a small journalist class, just to emphasize how repressive the regime is. Even the most inconsequential dissident is immediately crushed. Dissident websites have not only been censored, but the secret police has hijacked some of them and deleted their entire archives. Even Twitter accounts are banned. But the regime has grown sophisticated. Instead of banning, say, the New York Times website it now only bans the offending page and therefore can claim that Western news sources are not banned in the country. And much of the "private" press is on the payroll of the Interior Ministry, the Tunisian female journalist who uncovered this fact was mercilessly beaten up by the plain-clothed regime thugs. And this regime, which likes to hide been its status code law (which admittedly is better than all other Arab countries), is not above beating women: human rights activist Radhia Nasraoui was savagely beaten by similar thugs back in 2006 while attending a rally in protest of the decision by Ben Ali to welcome Shimon Peres for a UN conference. Nasraoui's daughter was also beaten and required heat stitches, and I have attached an image of Radhia. I could go on and on, but one last thing. Le Monde's correspondent sent to cover the 2009 sham election was denied entry under the official pretext that she had "adopted an obvious malevolence toward Tunisia" and two days after she was turned back from the airport Tunisia indefinitely banned Le Monde and all its sister publications from the country. The website may still be visited, but of course anything critical of Tunisia is censored.   And all of this is to say nothing of the Ben Ali in-laws, Trabelsis, who are turning the nation into a Banana Republic and literally stealing left and right, read La Regent de Carthage on that. The book has, of course, been banned in the country and the first lady sued the two journalists authors in French court but lost and was forced to pay them something like 1,000 euros. "  Here's the CPJ link