A Year On, A Lesson For All
The Tunisian revolution has marked its one year anniversary this week. It has resulted in the sacrifice of many but has seen the fruits of its sacrifice in more than one way.
Sparked by the self- immolation of one man, it soon escalated in to full blown civil resistance. Protestors took to the streets and stood strong against police brutality. Only 28 days later, President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali (the dictator since 1987) was ousted.
Several web bloggers and activists ‘disappeared’ in this time and immediately after Ben Ali’s ousting, there was general mayhem in the country, with people running out of food supplies and barricading themselves in their homes.
Gun battles took place near the Presidential Palace between the Tunisian army and elements of security elements loyal to the former regime and security services struggled to maintain law and order. The national stock market fell on 12 January for a three consecutive day loss of 9.3%. The unrest resulted in about 4,000 refugees fleeing for the Italian island of Lampedusa.
After this hardship, not only has Tunisia become free of a dictator, it has seen its first free democratic election this year. We congratulate Tunisia on its extraordinary achievement.
Another key achievement of the Tunisian uprising is the trigger of the Arab Spring. Egypt, Libya and Yemen have gotten rid of their dictators. Egyptian protestors are still facing violent unrest even today but are not backing down. Syria, Yemen, Bahrain and Algeria are all continuing with their own uprisings.
There are lessons to be learnt for the rest of us. The first being that the power of the people is above all; no dictator can remain and oppress if he is held to account by the people. Those of who us who can’t see the point in being active, need to look at those that were and are part of the Arab Spring and what they have achieved. In Britain we don’t need to take to the streets, we don’t need to risk our lives, we just need to be politically active to ensure we retain the same rights that others are dying for.
The other thing to note is the role of social media in the uprising. Had it not been for social media, Mohamed Bouazizi’s death may have been in vain. Facebook and Youtube in particular have been used to air the truth and to mobilise and organise protestors. Media and politics are our platforms, it’s time we learnt from our brothers and sisters and took advantage of these platforms.