Tunisian government condemned over crackdown

AFP , Monday 10 Jan 2011

The EU calls for restraint and calm following the death of at least 25 Tunisian civilians amid a wave of protests

International condemnation has mounted against the Tunisian government's violent crackdown on demonstrators protesting high unemployment and increased food prices.

The European Union, leading the global denunciation, urged Tunis to restrain its security forces and free the protesters they had arrested.

The EU's foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton was quoted in AFP calling “for the immediate release from detention of bloggers, journalists, lawyers and other people who were detained, who were peacefully demonstrating in Tunisia".

She expressed concern over developments in the country saying, "we deplore the violence and the loss of lives and express sympathy to families of the victims," Ashton's spokeswoman said.

She called for restraint and for the "respect of fundamental freedoms."

Tunisia's former colonial master, France, appealed for calm after weeks of deadly demonstrations swept the country.

"We deplore the violence, which caused casualties, and call for calm," foreign ministry spokesman Bernard Valero was quoted as saying in AFP.

He added that Tunisians will only be able to get through the economic and social hardship they face if they engage in dialogue.

"Cooperation between France and Tunisia is strongly focused on employment and will remain so. Now there is an urgent need for calm in Tunisia."

The US too expressed concern over Tunisia's dilemma specifically regarding the government's approach to the problem again calling for restraint.

It also called for respecting the citizens' freedoms and especially their right to using the internet. The Tunisian government has been accused of apprehending bloggers as well as blocking websites that dissent criticise or oppose it.

Tunis however claimed it was committed to "freedom of expression in Tunisia and throughout the world."


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