Report from Knowledge Without Borders Tour (Tunisia)

16 May

In our second day here in Tunis, the Knowledge Without Borders Tour was plunged into the chaotic but stimulating reality of post-insurrectional Tunisia. While the transitional government and the mainstream media try to give a vision of a pacified political situation, calling for order and normalization, the reality is that there are still many groups calling for the continuation of the revolutionary process. In fact, at 10 a.m. this morning, we took part in a lively protest organized by the Neighborhood Committees for the Defense of the Revolution that happened on the now-famed Avenue Bourghiba. After assembling hundreds of people on the steps of the Municipal Theater and chanting slogans calling for the continuation of the revolution against the oppressive transitional government, the Committees were brutally attacked by militia groups armed with clubs and knives and secretly organized by the Minister of the Interior. The repression here is being implemented through the use of unofficial squads of armed citizen in civilian attire who are hired and given free reign in the city squares; this is a strategy of low-intensity warfare similar to those that have been used in Latin America and elsewhere. The result is an unrestrained social violence aimed at creating political tensions without directly implicating the government itself. Arrests and veritable man hunts against activists and young people are continuing, especially against those who come from the countryside and who persist in their protests in Avenue Bourghiba even after the end of the last Casbah. Moreover, various people told us of an activist who was arrested and then raped in the police station. Following this unreasonable violence, the demonstrators reassembled in front of the Ministry of Women and Social Affairs and then did in a sit-in in front of the UGTT, the Tunisian Workers’ Union calling for a general strike to support the continued revolutionary effort. These revolutionary committees, together with young activists, are working for real systemic change where political and economic powers are simply attempting to substitute the positions previously held by the Ben Ali entourage. At the same time, an important demonstration of lawyers and magistrates took place in front of the Ministry of Justice calling for independent justice, freedom of expression and the end of government censorship, as well as the end of political persecution. A mainstream media information black-out has now been implemented, resulting in a real censorship surrounding all protests and demonstrations, with the exception of magistrates. After this morning’s events, our delegation then proceeded to collect materials with various actors still working on the political scene here in the capital. The afternoon was rich in meetings, interviews and organizational encounters working towards a transnational Meeting envisioned for the coming fall here in Tunis. Tomorrow, the delegation from the Knowledge Liberation Front will continue our militant research, deepening our understanding of this complex situation that Tunisian social movements are going through. In collaboration with the many collectives we have already met here, the material transnationalization of Euro-Mediterranean struggles is underway…

Knowledge Without Borders Tour 14 May 2011

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