Tag Archives: tunisia

The continuing threat to democracies

I wrote an article earlier this week about the hope for renewed democracy in Turkey should the opposition leader – Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu – be successful in the upcoming Presidential elections. But democracy continues to come under threat across the globe, as more countries seem to be sliding down the steep path to dictatorship and the abolition of civil liberties and human rights.

Human Rights Watch has today published an article focusing on the state of affairs in Tunisia. The authorities have placed a further 17 current or former members of Ennahda, the largest opposition party in the country, in prison. That means that, as of today, over 30 political figures who are critical of President Kais Saied are behind bars accused of “conspiring against state security”. According to Human Rights Watch, the detainees include former ministers, the party President, two vice presidents and the former Speaker of Parliament. The Tunisian authorities have simultaneously shut Ennahda’s offices across the country.

In Myanmar, the military has used a “thermobaric” munition – designed to cause the maximum amount of casualties – on the village of Pa Zi Gyi in response to an opposition-controlled administrative office being opened. The blast was followed by helicopter assaults using cannons, grenades and rockets as innocent civilians tried to flee. A resident confirmed that the anti-junta People’s Defence Forces was present at the opening, but that the office was for tax filing, town meetings and judicial events, not for military purposes.

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Liberalism, youth & the new Arab awakening: a Tunisian perspective

Student holds anti-violence poster at protest in Tunis - License Some rights reserved by Magharebia As part of a three year joint project between the Arab Partnership Fund, the Westminster Foundation for Democracy and the UK Liberal Democrats, a strategic roundtable will be held at our Party conference in Brighton to discuss a roadmap for advancing a progressive agenda in Tunisia and more generally across the Middle East. Youth and female members of liberal political parties have been invited to apply to participate in the roundtable discussion and, although the focus will be on Tunisia, people from all liberal parties across Middle East have been encouraged to apply.

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Why Mohamed Al Bouazizi should be the Liberal Voice of 2011

The Liberal Democrats exist to build and safeguard a fair, free and open society, in which we seek to balance the fundamental values of liberty, equality and community, and in which no one shall be enslaved by poverty, ignorance or conformity.

So speaks the first few lines of our constitution. They should be enshrined in everything we do – for if we’re not fighting for this, then, as Liberals, what are we fighting for at all?

So when I think about who should be the Liberal Voice of the Year, I think about who has done most to make those values real. …

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When traditional media, the online world and recession meet

Robert Pelletreau, a former American Ambassador in three of the countries very much in the news, Bahrain, Egypt and Tunisia, has highlighted how difficult it is to predict where protests will strike:

Tunisia had not seemed particularly shaky. It was a country that seemed to be doing many things right: universal education for men and women, low military spending, and positive economic growth. A large middle class was developing, and the country had become a popular tourist destination for Europeans. The government was authoritarian but also determinedly secular and pro-Western.

The role of social media has, with some justification, been given …

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Campaign to get a Tunisian Street Vendor named as Time Magazine’s ‘Person of the Year 2011’

I’d like to enlist your help.

Time Magazine gives the title ‘Person of the Year’ to the individual who ‘for better or for worse…has done the most to influence the events of the year’. They are clear that the title should not in itself be a prize, but an acknowledgement of influence on world events. Recent winners include Mark Zuckerberg, Ben Bernanke and Barack Obama.

I think – and I know it’s only February – but in 2011 that title should be given to a Tunisian street vendor called Muhammad Al Bouazizi. It would be a fitting tribute to one man who …

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Opinion: 80 million people like this

In my previous post I said I thought the role of social media in Tunisia was a bit of a red herring. I wanted to expand on that thought.

As I said on my own blog Wikileaks and social media played a role in Tunisia, and also in Egypt, but these things should be understood as helpful tools, not the root causes themselves. I thought the Foreign Policy article George Kendall cited was weak and the case for Wikileaks as a direct cause of the protests somewhat thin – even by the Foreign Policy article author’s own …

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Opinion: Interesting proposal, Mr Kendall, but who is “us”?

George Kendall’s piece on Julian Assange was quite good. If it wasn’t I’d scarcely bother replying. And no, I am not Mr Assange’s spokesman, but as Mr Assange’s spokesman is quite busy I thought I’d jump in and attempt a defence.

Firstly I think Tunisia is a bit of a red herring here, and it would in any case provide only an empirical proof to say that Wikileaks is good or bad based upon one revolution or several. It would say nothing about the general morality. I’d much rather argue from general principles, as George Kendall then goes on to do.

As I can see it there are two elements to his proof:

  1. That some things do need to be kept hidden
  2. That the decision as to what those things should be should be taken by elected leaders.
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Opinion: Tunisia – forgotten backwater of French and US power now a basket case

Almost ten years ago the School of Oriental and African Studies, (SOAS) awarded me a small research grant to go to Tunisia with the aim of charting her growing relationship with the EU. Algeria, Morrocco, ultimately Libya joined an EU free trade deal to open markets and democratise instutions. Ten years on these initiatives have grossly failed in a hail of bloodshed and crack down. The countries of the Maghreb have been given the benefit of the doubt by France, the US and the UK because the Tunisian President Ben Ali – who took power in a coup d’etat in …

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Tunisian Liberals excluded from country’s new political process

The confused situation in Tunisia has seen a provisional government formed from which the country’s liberals, the Social Liberal Party, has been excluded. Only representatives of socialist groups and the former ruling party have been given places in the new government,

The Social Liberal Party is a member of Liberal International, which has protested at its exclusion and pointed out that a functioning democracy cannot be formed while all but one part of the political spectrum is omitted from the process. The party’s website is in Arabic only.

Liberal International’s responses can be seen here.

Ronald Meinardus, director of …

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