Tunisians defy police to mark killings of left-wing leaders
TUNIS, Tunisia (AP) — Thousands of Tunisians pushed through a heavy security cordon and marched down the main avenue in their country’s capital Saturday to mark the eighth anniversary of the killing of a left-wing political leader.
The Feb. 6, 2013 killing of Chokri Belaid outside his home and the slaying six months later of another left-wing leader, Mohammed Brahmi, plunged Tunisia into chaos. No one has been convicted in either case.
“No more fear, no more terror. The street belongs to the people,” participants in the anniversary event chanted while defying police to march from a square renamed after Belaid to Tunis’ blocked main artery, Avenue Bourguiba.
“We want the truth about Belaid’s murder unveiled,” Mongi Rahoui, a left-wing leader, said, denouncing “excessive force” by security forces.
The head of the Workers Party, Hamma Hammami, blamed the Islamist party Ennahda, which led Tunisia’s government at the time of the anti-Islamist Belaid’s slaying. Hammami claimed in a statement that the party has continuously tripped up and slowed down the judicial process in the case.
Tunisia devolved into a deep political crisis after the two 2013 killings. Four civil society organizations, known as the Tunisian National Dialogue Quartet, were awarded the 2015 Nobel Peace Prize for their work to end the dangerous frenzy in the North African nation.
Tunisia’s 2011 revolution triggered the pro-democracy events known as the Arab Spring, and was considered the country with the best chance of realizing democratic change until the crisis that ensued after the killings. Many of the other countries that saw pro-democracy uprisings during the Arab Spring are heading toward chaos or renewed authoritarianism.