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Tunisia Latest: World Starts to Notice as Protests and Detentions Continue

Protest on Friday at a High School

UPDATE 8 December, 1100 GMT: Activists claim blogger and university theatre professor Fatma Riahi was arrested today.

Riahi, who blogged as Arabicca, was also arrested in Novmeber 2009.


Over the last 48 hours, as protests (see video) over economic conditions and political repression continue in Tunisia, international attention to detentions and censorship has emerged. Amnesty International insisted, "Tunisians Must Be Allowed to Demonstrate Peacefully".

Reporters Without Borders condemned the arrests and disappearances of bloggers and online activists across a number of Tunisian cities, including blogger and activist Hamadi Kaloutcha, student activist Sleh Edine Kchouk, rapper El Général (Hamada Ben Aoun). No news of activists  Slim Amamou and Azyz Amamy.

Reuters noticed the arrest of El Général, "a rap singer who released a song critical of government policies", and blogger Amami.

On the diplomatic front, US State Department officials, in a conference call with reporters, said the Department had summoned the Tunisian Ambassador to express "concerns about the ability of the people of Tunisia to exercise their rights and freedom of expression and freedom of assembly". An official said the State Department specifically raised the issue of Government "interference" with the Internet, including Facebook accounts. The State Department also urged "restraint" on all sides.

Inside the country, the Union General Tunisienne du Travail has issued a 10-point statement calling for sustainable development and employment, demanding release of detainees, expressing solidarity with families of victims, and expressing displeasure with lack of information, and supporting political reform based on promotion of democracy and consolidation of freedoms.

On Thursday, 95% of Tunisia's 8000 lawyers were on strike over beatings by police.

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