Police arrest leading gay activist in crackdown on Tunisia rally | Protests News

Tunis, Tunisia – Police have arrested a number one homosexual rights campaigner in a violent pushback in opposition to younger folks throughout a rally in opposition to the upcoming referendum on the Tunisian president’s newly proposed structure.

Police violently shoved protesters marching on Friday in a vocal however peaceable demonstration as they headed in direction of the Ministry of Inside within the centre of Tunis to exhibit in opposition to President Kais Saied’s newly-penned structure and demand an finish to the referendum course of.

Al Jazeera witnessed beatings and different violent abuses of protesters, and likewise noticed police use pepper spray.

President Saied printed his new draft structure on the finish of final month, forward of a referendum scheduled for July 25 the place Tunisians will vote to simply accept or reject the doc.

July 25 marks a yr since Saied sacked Tunisia’s prime minister, suspended parliament and assumed govt authority, citing a nationwide emergency in a transfer critics have referred to as a coup.

Two months later he introduced he would rule by decree, and dismantled lots of the nation’s democratic state establishments together with the Superior Judicial Council. In June, he fired dozens of judges accusing them of corruption and “terrorism”, additional consolidating his energy.

Scuffles between protesters and police in Tunis
The police scuffled with protesters who accuse President Kais Saied of an influence seize and concern the brand new structure will result in dictatorship [Fethi Belaid/AFP]

Saied says he has carried out a interval of outstanding measures to save lots of the nation from an imminent hazard however his critics say his actions have solely exacerbated the political and financial crises dealing with Tunisians who’re struggling amid excessive inflation and unemployment, and declining public providers.

‘I’m so indignant’

 

On Friday, police launched a variety of aggressive costs in opposition to what was a comparatively small though vocal group of protesters.

As they charged in opposition to protesters they attacked chief of the left wing Entrance Fashionable Hama Hemami, a feminine journalist was slapped whereas attempting to {photograph} police arresting a protester and Al Jazeera noticed many individuals struggling the painful results of gasoline and pepper spray.

Police dragged protesters to the bottom as they arrested them, and held them in stress holds as they marched a few of them away.

Amongst these arrested was a number one LGBTQI+ activist Saif Ayadi. Avocats sans Frontiers informed Al Jazeera he’s at present being held at Gorjani detention centre however ASF say they’re involved for his security as he has beforehand been arrested and crushed by police.

Riot police pushed again the group with their shields earlier than fellow officers charged forcefully in opposition to the group chasing protesters down facet streets.

Khalil Ayari, a 23 yr previous nursing scholar, informed Al Jazeera: “I noticed 10 folks arrested, and (they) have been simply protesting peacefully. I noticed them assault a lady, they have been pulling her arm so onerous I might see the bruises rising.”

Ayari stated he took to the streets as a result of he was livid on the president’s actions.

“I’m so indignant,” he stated. “I learn the structure, it’s solely concerning the president, it’s all for him, he’s going to make all the choices and take all the pieces.”

He added: “After as we speak I not longer really feel protected in Tunisia.”

Below the brand new structure, Saied would have the ability to proceed to rule by decree till a brand new parliament is fashioned after an election set for December. He would even have final authority over the federal government and judiciary, with the federal government answering to the president and to not parliament.

Protesters and police jostle at barriers erected in Tunis with an officer spraying tear gas into their faces
A Tunisian policeman sprays tear gasoline at a protester attempting to take away metallic boundaries throughout Friday’s protest in opposition to the proposed new structure [Fethi Belaid/AFP]

The face of Ayla Salemi, who works in civil society, was vibrant purple after being caught within the pepper spray.

“The police have been shouting and insisting that we go dwelling, then they charged at us,” she informed Al Jazeera. “They battered the feminine activist Waen Nawal with a stick and so they used pepper spray on me and others.”

The 35-year-old tried to catch her breath. “I used to be in opposition to what occurred final yr within the parliament, however I’m additionally in opposition to this president, issues are a lot worse now than they have been earlier than.”

For a lot of younger folks, Saied’s actions are a betrayal.

“We’re in opposition to Saied’s structure as a result of this may carry us to dictatorship, we can’t tolerate this; we’re right here to say no!” 23-year-old regulation scholar Malak Ben Amane informed Al Jazeera.

Half means by means of the interview a policeman got here to berate Ben Amane, however she stood coolly and refused to maneuver. Because the officer moved away she stated: “This violence will not be uncommon it occurs day-after-day, it is a police state.”

Till Friday, protests in opposition to the president had largely concerned middle-aged folks, however the younger at the moment are popping out in opposition to him too.

“Sure, we’re depressed, however we’re right here to defend our revolution and our democracy, so I’ll march once more tomorrow,” Ben Amane stated.

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