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TUNISIA: High death toll challenges claims of smooth transition

At least 300 Tunisians died during the monthlong uprising that culminated in the overthrow of the regime of Zine el Abedine ben Ali, reported Juan Mendez, United Nations Special Rapporteur on Torture, after completing his first mission to the country since the establishment of the interim government. 

The death toll in the country of 10 million, signficantly higher than previous figures, came as a surprise to those who considered the revolution to have been a smooth and peaceful transition. 

"Another 700 were injured," said the special rapporteur citing information provided by the interim Tunisian administration. 

Demonstrations in Tunisia were sparked last December when college-educated but unemployed Mohamad Bouazzizi set himself afire in desperation as popular Tunisian discontent with increasing corruption and unemployment reached its zenith. 

The U.N. mission, whose aim was to assess challenges faced by the interim government and investigate acts of violence committed by security forces loyal to the regime, discovered that "the new authorities have taken a number of steps towards ensuring accountability and long-term reforms," Mendez said.

But the current administration has a long way to go. Acts of torture and abuse carried out in the last weeks of deposed president Ben Ali's rule continue under the interim government, Agence France-Press reported, citing leading Tunisian rights activist Radhia Nasraoui on Saturday.

"I think there is no political will to stop these savage practices," she said.

Some believe the success of the interim government in Tunis could help pave the way for successful transitions to democracy in Syria, Bahrain, Yemen and Libya, which are undergoing political crises as pro-democracy forces battle entrenched tyrants.

Mendez, who met with senior officials, representatives of political parties and torture victims, emphasized that investigations of torture allegations and "accountability for past abuses" were crucial in bringing an end to the cycle of abuse. 

RELATED:

Timeline: Tunisia lights the match 

 -- Roula Hajjar in Beirut

Comments () | Archives (2)

yes you are right about Mohamad Bouazzizi not having a college education. But does all that matter really!!!! The man died trying to work to get his siblings an educated. He set himself on fire due to desperation!!!! And all you want to comment on is that article is wrong about his education. Please wake up and see what really matters here. And the article is about all the others that have lost their lives due to this, and that are still loosing their lives today because nothing has really changed there. Please open your eyes!!!!!

kindly get your facts straight. Bouazizi was not college educated, he didn't finish high-school-his sister stated that in an interview-also, although also incorrect, Time stated that he had a high-school degree-but definitely not college.
http://www.time.com/time/world/article/0,8599,2043557,00.html


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