We’re receiving alarming reports that human rights activists are being harassed, prevented from meeting, and even brutalized by Tunisian police during the last couple of days.
Worldsummit2005.org, run by the Boell Foundation, and the Association for Progressive Communications are reporting that the site of a preparatory meeting for a “Citizen’s Summit” was blocked by Tunisian authorities, preventing people from entering the building, and that people were violently handled. This is particularly brazen since the venue was the Goethe Institute, which is affiliated with the German government.
Worldsummit2005.org reports that “several participants were insulted and violently beaten.” The APC report notes that in particular Omar Mestiri and Om Zied, of the online magazine Kalima and the Conseil national pour les libert€s en Tunisie were targetted by the police for harassment and rough treatment.
Other international NGO activists present who tried to intervene were pushed back by police.
“There is democracy in Tunisia, but this is a bad lot,” APC reports that one of the police said, as he was beating Omar Mestiri in the head.
It’s sad to see this kind of brutal reaction on the part of the Tunisian authorities to any possible criticism of the regime. If they had simply allowed the meeting to happen it would probably have not generated much interest. But now the eyes of the world will be on Tunisia for this.