The series of January, 2021 protests across the country have featured some consistent demands in their chants and slogans. One has been for officials to release all those who have been detained during the protests. Other demands, like the “fall of the regime” have also been common, though less specific. Now, some protesters have written out specific demands, with one list of demands shared by a group called the “National Campaign to Support the Social Struggles” being shared widely on social media.
Protesters confront a riot police blockade preventing them from reaching the Ministry of Interior in downtown Tunis on January 30, 2021. Photo by Ahmed Zarrouki.
1. Releasing all detainees and dismantling the “system of police repression by dissolving security force unions;
2. Monthly unemployment benefits of 400 Tunisian dinars (TND) and raising the minimum monthly wage from just under 400 TND to 600 TND;
3. Setting rent ceilings, certifying home ownership rights for people in poor neighborhoods, and converting privately-owned, empty buildings into public housing;
4. Distributing “state-owned land and neglected lands of large investors to landless agricultural workers, unemployed and smallholding farmers”;
5. Canceling microcredit debts of poor people;
6. Using private clinics to address the pandemic;
7. Offering economic support and free Covid treatment to poor people, “financed by exceptional taxes on wealth and banks;”
8. Auditing the state’s natural resources, the state’s natural resource contracts with “colonial multinational companies,” and the state’s external debt;
9. Limiting car imports, redirecting hard currency to building public transportation, and
10. “Reviving the national textile industry.”
Demands Draw Praise on Social Media, Silence from Government
Meshkal spoke with Ghassen Ben Khelifa, a coordinator of the campaign that put forward the “People’s Program.”
“We are all with these protests and supporting them and our demands are there in the statement, like releasing the detained…urgent steps that we see as possible if there was a government that had even the least bit of patriotism or gave any importance to social justice,” Ben Khelifa told Meshkal.
The statement and its program drew support from political analysts on social media.