Tunisians took to the streets by the thousands on March 4 and 5 to denounce President Kais Saied’s government for silencing the opposition with threats of arrest and intimidation and to protest against the administration’s failure to address basic economic concerns plaguing the people of the country.
Protesters raised issues such as government restrictions on unions, the rising cost of living in Tunisia, and the government’s move to reduce subsidies on essential commodities like food and energy.
The protests on March 4 were organized by the Tunisian General Labor Union (UGTT) and the Tunisian Workers’ Party, among others. The protest on that day, which “appears to be the biggest” against Saied’s government so far, started from Tunis’s Mohamed Ali Square and ended at Habib Bourguiba Avenue.
More than a dozen activists, journalists, and judges have been arrested since February by the police in Tunisia. Some have been charged with “conspiracy against state security” and are being tried in military courts. The opposition said that this action by the government amounted to political persecution.
Those arrested so far include Issam Chebbi, head of the opposition Republican Party, two leading opposition members, Noureddine Boutar, a senior journalist, and Anis Kaabi, a senior union leader.
Addressing the protesters, secretary-general of the UGTT Noureddine Taboubi asserted that “the workers are united, and we have chosen the path of struggle; struggle does not come cheap.” He said that UGTT was opposed to the persecution of political figures and the “intimidation of their families,” and was committed to the protection of freedoms in the country.