Introduction to a snapshot diary
The revolution in Tunisia is seen as bloodless, but not when you reach small towns where almost everyone knows someone who died, or was injured, or mentally traumatised. This was a war zone.
In Sidi Bouzid, Nejib Beyoui, a member of the teacher's union told us what had happened when teachers, lawyers and doctors formed a Support Committee after Mohamed Bouazizi set fire to himself, at first just to get him to a proper hospital, and then, “to ask for work and dignity”. The trade unionists stood in the streets for thirteen days being teargassed and beaten up, while the town's young people stayed up all night and were shot at with live ammunition.
Mohamed Salah Abidi, a schools inspector from nearby Regueb, told us about his son Chady:
“My son is 20, a university student in computer sciences and maths. One of the revolutionary tools in Tunisia, as you know, is Information technology. The revolution started here in the neglected interior part of Tunisia; here we belong and want to have an equal share in the wealth of our country.
My son, like all his generation, went out to express himself. They had no weapons but the voice. And then the dictator faced them with sophisticated weapons, and the result was a serious injury for my son. I'm very proud of him.
Months after these events, we are still wondering what steps we need to take to defend our rights from the people responsible for these crimes: first, lawyers must pursue these cases through the courts. Second, there must be access to the necessary specialist treatment for the wounded. Third, the courses for this year must be renewed, so that students can gain some recognition for their sacrifices and not lose their chance of a degree.”
Mr Abidi and I have resolved to work together on bringing reports to Britain and solidarity back to Tunisia.