Tunisian Revolution

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Conflict Mapping: the Tunisia Revolution

Conflict Mapping the Tunisian Revolution from the perspective of the main advocates that took over this revolution, the youth of Tunisia through their participation in crucial events, reflected on the problems their country face in the transition to democracy. First the revolution was initiated by disillusioned youth who succeeded in bringing together a broad coalition of social and political forces against the Ben Ali’s regime. Second the coalition was able to bring down the regime due to longstanding and widespread discontent in the country that stemmed from factors such as: massive unemployment especially among the youth, unequal regional development and lack of equitable distribution of wealth, stifling political repression, and a corrupt ruling family. Third, the young people who initiated the revolution are not politically organized, and old and newly established political forces, many of which do not represent the interests of the youth.

The Tunisian revolution started in the center of the country in the small town of Sidi Bouzid on December 17, 2010, Mohamed Bouazizi, a 26 year-old fruit vendor, set himself on fire to protest economic conditions and police mistreatment. Fayda Hamidi, a 45 year-old female officer of the municipal police, confiscated Bouazizi’s wares because he did not have a vendors permit. Bouaziz was furious and insulted her. For a Tunisian man, being slapped by a woman in public constitutes a major humiliation. Deeply offended, Bouazizi’s tried to file a complaint with the municipal thorities. Apparently the governor refused to see him, even after Bouazizi threatened to burn himself. He set himself on fire in front of the main government building in Sidi Bouzid. A couple hours after Bouazizi’s self-immolation, several hundred young people assembled in the same place to express their solidarity with Bouazizi and protest economic hardship and youth unemployment, as well as police abuses\ . …’’xxsswsjhl’kjgda. Clashes between demonstrators and the police erupted as more people joined in the rallies. Protestors set up a coordinating committee that began relaying information to demonstrators. Images and videos of the protests and of police brutality against demonstrators surfaced on the Internet and Facebook. For the moment, however, national media completely ignored the uprising in Sidi Bouzid.

On December 20, young people in the neighboring towns staged a protest in solidarity with Sidi Bouzid. Over the next few days it spread to other cities in Tunisia. Protestors responded to police violence by throwing stones, burning tires in the street, and torching official government buildings and cars. The police fired on demonstrators, killing two of them and injuring many more but the protestors would not retreat. During the week young bloggers and cyber activist from Tunis and other regions and towns joined in the demonstration to record and report the events to the country and the world.

On January 4, 2011 Mohamed Bouazizi died of his burns. More than 5 thousand people attend the funeral. The protest became national, as young people and trade unionist took to the streets in unprecedented numbers. Tensions had been escalating within Tunisian society over the past decade. Bouazizi’s self-immolation ignited protests that expressed longstanding discontent among various groups and social strata. Frustrations stemmed not only from economic malaise but also from suffocated repression and increasingly visible corruption within the ruling family.

The escalation was ignited first by the neo-liberal economic policies of the old regime reinforced a pattern of uneven development that marginalized the central and eastern desert region and concentrated wealth in the northern and western coastal regions of the country. This approach resulted in low wages and job insecurity and failed to generate enough jobs to employ young people entering the work force....
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