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Protests against police abuse spread across Tunisian capital

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Protests against police abuse in the Sejoumi neighbourhood of Tunisia’s capital which has been on for a week spread to other poor neighbourhoods late on Wednesday.
The protesters gathered in Ettadhamen and Intilaka neighbourhoods, blocked roads, burned tires, and threw stones at police as they chased them and unleashed tear gas, according to reports.
Protests escalated last week after a video circulated online showed police stripping and beating a young man, triggering widespread public anger.
On Tuesday, hundreds gathered in Sijoumi, raising slogans against the government and calling on officials to stop police abuse and punish those involved.
They chanted “Freedom, freedom, the police state is over.”
A man arrested by police on suspicion of dealing drugs died few hours after being arrested last week. The family accused the police of beating him to death.
Tunisia’s Interior Ministry has denied the allegation.
The United Nations human rights office in Tunisia said on Monday it is concerned about repeated allegations of serious violations by the Tunisian police amid violent protests.
43 organizations, including the Journalists Syndicate, unions and the lawyers syndicate, and the Human Rights League, have called for a massive national protest on Friday to end what they say is police impunity.
They said that they filed a lawsuit against Prime Minister Hichem Mechichi, who is also the acting Interior Minister.
A decade on from the Arab Spring revolutionary protests against poverty, injustice and police state, Tunisia has made progress towards democracy.
However, its economic problems have worsened, and this has led to repeated protests.
During the most recent January protests, the police arrested more than 2,000 people, most of them minors.
Human rights organizations said that hundreds of them were subjected to ill-treatment and torture.
Human rights activists said police abuses have threatened to undermine the democratic gains made since the overthrow of President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali’s repressive regime a decade ago.

Edited by Olajumoke Adeleke

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