Did the Tunisian revolution succeed?

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27 February
11:53
27 February
14:02

First, we are talking about a small span of time in the life of a revolution. The revolution is a process: a revolutionary process. It generally takes a long time to achieve its goals. We cannot get rid of the old practices and habits in a short time. We cannot reform things easily. The Tunisian revolutionary process fulfilled few things and there are so many things to be done. It witnessed ups and downs.

I will start by saying that at least we have succeeded in getting rid of the dictator – the head of the system – and we have to work more and more to get rid of the whole system. People broke the fear barriers and started to express themselves freely, and this is very important for the building of a democracy. Politically speaking the revolution is more or less successful. Tunisians succeeded in organizing several democratic and transparent elections and they also succeeded in drafting a new constitution. 

The Tunisian revolutionary process is still on the march. This is why we have to be optimistic.

When it comes to the transitional justice, few things have been achieved. I would for example talk about the trials of the killers of our martyrs – the majority succeeded in escaping punishment. I will also talk about the attempts of the counter-revolutionary force (mainly people from the old régime) to escape justice. The economic reconciliation law is a good example here. The law was presented as a good way to promote the Tunisian economy, by guaranteeing reconciliation to the corrupted businessmen of the regime of Ben Ali, effectively granting amnesty for corruption. The project of this law was rejected after the pressure of the civil society.

When it comes to the social and economic demands of the revolution I will say that almost everything was not fulfilled yet. The different governments who ruled the country after the ouster of Ben Ali did not really show a willingness to change the situation. Instead of dealing with the real problems of the country we were drawn into useless debates about religion and identity. Divide and rule has been the motto for all those who succeeded in having power in Tunisia. Today young people keep on demonstrating and organizing sit-ins to ask for employment and economic development amid either the indifference of the politicians or the police repression in different parts of the country. Living standards went down.

Today young people keep on demonstrating and organizing sit-ins to ask for employment and economic development

A few months after the departure of Ben Ali, Tunisians were proud and happy of their newly obtained freedom. But even this freedom is threatened today. I will for example mention freedom of press: In the beginning we witnessed the birth of new media giving voices to people with different opinions. We started to hear about the reform of the media that used to be under the monopoly of the regime. But this did not last for a long time. We progressively started to hear about arrests amongst journalists and bloggers. Today we have the feeling that some media are working for particular political parties. Others are serving the interests of some businessmen or lobbies. Few are voicing the needs of the citizens. When it comes to individual freedoms, the situation is catastrophic – an example is arrests among homosexuals. The violations of human rights are more and more frequent and I am mainly talking about police violence and torture (see the last report issued by Amnesty about Tunisia).

Furthermore the rise of relatively new phenomena in Tunisia – mainly terrorism – complicated things.

But globally I will say that the Tunisian revolutionary process is still on the march. This is why we have to be optimistic. We have to keep on working to fulfil real change and to talk about a successful revolution.

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