TUNISIA: 15-year-old protester was shot dead by police

Summary: A 15-year-old protester was shot dead by police during a demonstration in Tunis last week, while several journalists covering the protest were beaten also by police.

[TUNIS, 18 July 2011] - ARTICLE 19 is extremely concerned by reports of police and army clashes with demonstrators over the weekend (15th- 17th July, 2011) which resulted in at least two deaths, including the killing of a 15-year-old protestor, Hajlaoui Thabet, who was shot in the heart. According to eye witnesses, the teenager was reportedly shot by an army official during protests in the city of Sidi Bouzid.  In addition, ARTICLE 19 is equally concerned by reports it has received of attacks on journalists covering protests and police and army clashes with demonstrators in Tunis, on July 15 2011.

The demonstrations in Tunis took place in a district of Tunis dubbed the “Kasba” which has become the de facto location for sit-ins and protests.  According to reports, government officials stopped protesters from congregating in the area. 

According to eye-witness reports received by ARTICLE 19, several journalists were beaten by the police while covering a demonstration in the vicinity of the Prime Minister's office during the weekend. ARTICLE 19 joins the Tunisian National Union of Journalists in condemning these attacks and calls for greater journalist protection during this transitional pre-election phase and for the perpetrators of violence against journalists to be brought to justice.

“It is vital for journalists to be able to carry out their profession without fear of intimidation and violence.  The Tunisian Interim Government must undertake an independent and effective investigation into the attacks on journalists which took place on Friday 15th July,” said Dr Agnes Callamard, ARTICLE 19 Executive Director.

Hundreds of demonstrators gathered during the weekend in Tunis and other cities calling for, amongst other things, the resignation of the Minister of Interior and Minister of Justice.

“ARTICLE 19 calls on the Interim Tunisian Government to respect the right to freedom of expression and freedom of assembly and to ensure that people are able to exercise their right to express their views and opinions, including through peaceful demonstrations,” continued Dr Callamard.

Demonstrators who fled to a mosque to seek refuge where attacked in the mosque. At least 48 people were arrested during the demonstrations according to reports from Nawaat, an award-winning popular Tunisian blog and online news aggregator.  

The government has blamed the latest violent protests on extremists.


Further Information

pdf: http://www.article19.org/


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