Political activist Fathi Tlili behind bars
07 Jun 12



13 days after police arrested him, Fathi Tlili, a coordinator for the Leftist Socialist Party (Le Parti socialiste de gauche in French), is still behind bars.

The arrest followed Tlili’s participation in protests which swept Sakiet Sidi Youssef, a small and underprivileged town in the northwest of Tunisia. On 25 May, the town’s inhabitants organised a general strike demanding employment and a local development boost.

The strike, which paralysed the town’s little economic activity, ended in acts of vandalism when unemployed protesters set official buildings and state-owned cars on fire.

Police are accusing Tlili of “inciting riot”, and of “breaking down” the local delegation’s rear door building. The PSG has denied these charges, claiming that Tlili and other party activists tried to stand up to acts of vandalism.

In a communiqué released on 3 June, PSG Secretary General Mohamed Kilani described the legal proceedings against Tlili as “a political trial”. He claims Tlili was badly treated while in prison.

“After visiting him in prison, Fathi’s wife asserted that her husband was physically abused, and badly treated. She noticed the bruises on his body,” the communiqué stated.

The Tunisian extreme left is often blamed for fuelling protests and social unrest. I an interview given to Al-Jazeera last January, Tunisian President Moncef Marzouki accused the “extreme left” of “manipulating, and politicising social protests in order to stir up trouble”.