News Release

Interviews Available with Tunisians: “A Third Way”

Protests continued today in Tunisia, with the ruling party’s headquarters surrounded and its signage dismantled.

RADIA DAOUSSI
Daoussi, a Tunisian native, is the president of the Vineeta Foundation, a non-profit focusing on public health and human rights. She also works for international organizations, including UNDP, UNICEF, and the World Bank. Daoussi said today: “Tunisians have not let down their movement, it’s not like Ben Ali is out and we can all go home. The Ben Ali regime was supported by the U.S. government for years with hundreds of millions of dollars. Ali came to visit the U.S. under Bush. Tunisia has apparently been a major player in the ‘rendition’ program. Tunisia followed the IMF structural adjustment programs, cutting subsides for food and fuel. It was heralded by the IMF, by France and the U.S. as a model for the Third World because of its growth, but it was dependent on tourism. It did provide good education, but not many jobs.

“For all the talk of democracy by U.S. officials, this was a homegrown movement, not planned out by the U.S. military or government. It’s past time for people in the U.S. to ask what price there is for ‘stability.’ There’s a third way — not pro-U.S. authoritarianism or repressive Islamic rule — a true democracy.” Daoussi is speaking at a forum tonight in Washington, D.C.

The following activists are available for a limited number of media interviews form Tunisia (please call between 7 a.m. and 11 p.m. Tunisia time, which is 6 hours ahead of U.S. ET):

HOUEIDA ANOUAR, on Twitter
Anouar is an independent Tunisian activist with a strong background in both civil society traditional advocacy projects and digital activism. She has been involved in human rights and freedom of speech campaigns since the year 2000, as a blogger and editor of an alternative online media outlet (http://www.reveiltunisien.org). She is a former program officer at Freedom House.

She said today: “Ben Ali has left, but we still have his party. People are in the streets every day now calling for officials from this party to step down from the interim unity government and for that party to be dismantled. This party is very powerful, with offices in every neighborhood. Many people feel that this party infrastructure is still doing the dirty work. People in this party and other Ben Ali loyalists still control lots of institutions and media outlets.

“People want to see real change and argue that these officials cannot be trusted given their history — including the current prime minister — and that these officials should step aside and this repressive structure should be dismantled. Someone set loose militias that killed people — we don’t know who that was and the interim unity government is not communicating in a straightforward manner, further leading many regular people to conclude that these officials cannot be trusted with power.”

FARES MABROUK, on Twitter
Mabrouk is a Tunisian activist and entrepreneur. In 2009, Mabrouk founded the first Tunisian company providing mobile financial services to the unbanked population. Prior to that he developed and managed a Tunisian private company offering logistic solutions for the oil industry. Before moving to the private sector Mabrouk was in the Tunisian Administration as member of the Cabinet of the Minister of Energy and Industry. He received a MPA from the Harvard Kennedy School.

He said today: “This is not only about Tunisia, this is about the relations between Arab people and their leaders. We must address the real question: Is democracy possible in the Arab world and Tunisians are saying ‘Yes’. … There was not a single slogan in the street related to religion; all slogans were calling for dignity.”

Mabrouk added, regarding Obama’s speech last year calling for dialogue: “This is an window of opportunity to give the Cairo speech a second wind.” Mabrouk has recently appeared on Democracy Now

Follow on Twitter: #Sidibouzid (the #Sidibouzid hashtag refers to the town of Mohamed Bouazizi, the street vendor whose self-immolation sparked protests in mid-December.)

For translating from Arabic and French websites and Twitter feeds, use translate.google.com

See Al-Jazeera English report on Bouazizi — live feed is available via livestation.com

For more information, contact at the Institute for Public Accuracy:
Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020; or David Zupan, (541) 484-9167