Resistance Studies Network

Supporting critical studies on resistance, organised by scholars at Gothenburg, Sussex & UMass Universities

Category: Police (page 1 of 7)

Urban Uprisings in Contemporary Europe

FSSK, CUS and CSM invite you to a conference day:
Urban Uprisings in Contemporary Europe
Paris 2005, Athens 2008, London 2011 – What’s next?

When: Wednesday 15th of February 2012. 9.50am -16.30 pm
Where: Linnésalen, Mediehuset, Seminariegatan 1B, Campus Linné

A Spectre is stalking Europe – the spectre of suburban youth revolts. Europe is a
continent marked by growing inequality, racism and social tensions. In recent years we
have seen battle like pictures on TV from Paris, Athens, Lyon, Rotterdam, Copenhagen
and most recently in London and other British cities. During the last two years different
areas in the metropolitan districts in Sweden has also become a part of this picture.
How should we understand this development, how do we explain these uprisings? Are
there general patterns that could be seen in all cities?
The unit for Contemporary Cultural Studies (Forum för Studier av Samtidskultur –
FSSK), the Centre for Urban Studies (Centrum för Urbana Studier) and Gothenburg
CSM (Forum for Civil Society and Social Movement Research), all at Gothenburg
University, arrange a one day conference on these issues and we welcome you to this first
conference day in a series on urban movements and urban change.
The conference is free (and includes coffee and bun) but has a limited number of seats.
We therefore require that you send us an email if you like to participate before the 8th of
February to ensure your seat.

Email to:
catharina.thorn [at]
ove.sernhede [at]
hakan.thorn [at]

Special Report: Inside the Egyptian revolution

(Reuters) - In early 2005, Cairo-based computer engineer Saad Bahaar was trawling the internet when he came across a trio of Egyptian expatriates who advocated the use of non-violent techniques to overthrow strongman Hosni Mubarak. Bahaar, then 32 and interested in politics and how Egypt might change, was intrigued by the idea. He contacted the group, lighting one of the fuses that would end in freedom in Tahrir Square six years later.

A protester stands in front of a burning barricade during a demonstration in Cairo January 28, 2011.

A protester stands in front of a burning barricade during a demonstration in Cairo January 28, 2011.

The three men he approached — Hisham Morsy, a physician, Wael Adel, a civil engineer by training, and Adel’s cousin Ahmed, a chemist — had all left Egypt for jobs in London.

Inspired by the way Serbian group Otpor had brought down Slobodan Milosevic through non-violent protests in 2000, the trio studied previous struggles. One of their favorite thinkers was Gene Sharp, a Boston-based academic who was heavily influenced by Mahatma Gandhi. The group had set up a webpage in 2004 to propagate civil disobedience ideas in Arabic.

At first, the three young Egyptians’ activities were purely theoretical. But in November 2005, Wael Adel came to Cairo to give a three-day training session on civil disobedience. In the audience were about 30 members of Kefaya, an anti-Mubarak protest group whose name means “enough” in Arabic. Kefaya had gained prominence during the September 2005 presidential elections which Mubarak won by a landslide. During these protests, they had been attacked by thugs and some women members had been stripped naked. Bahaar joined Adel on the course and his career as an underground trainer in non-violent activism was born.

Adel taught activists how to function within a decentralized network. Doing so would make it harder for the security services to snuff them out by arresting leaders. They were also instructed on how to maintain a disciplined non-violent approach in the face of police brutality, and how to win over bystanders.

“The third party, the bystander sitting on the fence, will join when he realizes that security forces’ use of violence is unwarranted,” Bahaar said in one of a series of interviews with Reuters. “Security will harass you to provoke an angry violent response to justify a repressive crackdown in the name of law and order. But you must avoid this trap.”

The process took time. As Wael Adel put it during an interview in a rundown Cairo cafe in March, there was a process of “trial and error” before Egypt’s non-violent warriors were strong enough to begin to take on a dictator.

Kefaya, for example, did run some more campaigns – including one for judicial independence in 2006. But it failed to stir mass protests or expand beyond the middle class elite. There was also internal disagreement between its younger activists and older politicians. By 2007, it had lost its momentum and many had quit.


In the meantime, the trio of thinkers had morphed into an organization called the Academy of Change — based in London and ultimately moving to Qatar. The Academy became a window for Egypt’s activists into civil disobedience movements outside the Arab world. To disseminate the new methods of resistance, it wrote books about nonviolent activism with a focus on the Arab world: “Civil Disobedience,” “Nonviolent War the 3rd Choice” and “AOC MindQuake” that were published in 2007.

A year later the Academy published “Shields to Protect Against Fear”, a manual on techniques to protect one’s body against attacks by security services during a protest. “The idea of non-violent protest is not martyrdom,” Adel said. “We knew to get ordinary Egyptians, and Arabs, to face their governments and security, they have to have tools to protect themselves. This boosts the morale and enthusiasm to go to the street.”

The ideas espoused by the Academy spread through Egypt. The calls for change reached industrial areas where large groups of workers have long suffered low wages and bad work conditions. Mounting economic hardship mobilized workers in the Nile Delta city of Mahalla El Kobra, home to the country’s biggest textile factory. The workers had been in contact with Kefaya activists and other independent labor activists. The groundwork for a sustained mass mobilization was being prepared.

The first real victory sprung from Mahalla in December 2006 when over 20,000 textile workers staged a six-day strike over unpaid bonuses. The protesters — peaceful but stubborn — confused police forces accustomed to clashing with disorganized crowds. The government offered concessions to avoid losses from a halt to production.

Then came a setback. In April 2008, workers in Mahalla went out on strike again, over rising prices. An online call by Kefaya’s former activists to support the Mahalla strike on fizzled out. Meanwhile, in Mahalla, the protest turned violent. Activists claim plain-clothes police destroyed public and police property and then blamed it on the protesters. Bloody clashes between police and Mahalla citizens lasted three days. Police fired live rounds and teargas, while enraged crowds threw rocks. At least three people were killed, hundreds were wounded and scores arrested.

More discipline was needed. Bahaar began to widen his efforts, traveling to disparate locations farther away from the capital to extend grassroots awareness of peaceful civil disobedience.
Meanwhile, ex-Kefaya activists formed the April 6 Facebook group, using the internet to gather supporters. The group adopted the Otpor clenched-fist logo and some members travelled to Serbia for civil disobedience training.


February 2010. Mohamed ElBaradei was back in Cairo. The former head of the International Atomic Energy Association and Nobel peace prize winner had inspired some of Egypt’s younger generation that change was possible. Several of them had created a Facebook page backing ElBaradei as the country’s next president. But how were they to achieve their goal given Mubarak’s repressive regime? They turned to the Academy for help.

The Academy directed them to its online training manuals, which the Facebook activists tried for a while. But despite their internet savvy, many felt that relying entirely on online training was too theoretical. Couldn’t the Academy give them practical training?

Enter Bahaar.

Those who had signed up to the Facebook page were divided into groups of 100. Bahaar trained eight of the groups in different parts of the country using, among other tools, PowerPoint presentations that explained how you maximize the power of a protest movement. Every protester had a family, and around the family was a wider community, Bahaar explained. If a protester was arrested or beaten by the police, his or her family might be radicalized. Similarly, if a policeman engaged in brutality, his family and social network might not be supportive. By maintaining disciplined non-violent activity, the regime’s power could be progressively weakened.

Why wasn’t Bahaar himself arrested? He says this was partly because he was working underground but also, he thinks, because the security services didn’t judge his non-violent approach a threat.

Others were not so lucky. Khaled Said, 28, was beaten to death by police in Alexandria, Egypt’s second-largest city, in June 2010. His family said he had posted a video showing police officers sharing the spoils of a drugs bust. Said’s body was barely recognizable and the act of brutality galvanized further protests — in particular, the anti-torture Facebook page “We are Khaled Said,” created by Google executive Wael Ghonim and underground activist AbdelRahman Mansour.

The page played a pivotal role in spreading non-violent strategies such as “flash mob” silent protests, where groups of people suddenly gather in a public place and do something unusual in unison for a short time before dispersing. Instructions for a nationwide “flash mob” were posted on the page. Participants were told to dress in black and arrive at specific locations in small groups to skirt the ban on large public gatherings. They formed single files along main roads with their backs turned to the street. After a certain hour they marched away.

“The Khaled Said page drew countless willing supporters, many apolitical, because its focus was ending human rights violations and that is an issue that affects all citizens. The page set gradual, easy-to-handle tasks. People felt safe and joined,” said Ahmed Saleh, one of the organizers working with the ElBaradei youth campaign and Khaled Said page.

Like Mahalla’s 2006 strike, the flash mob was a new type of protest unfamiliar to security forces. Its cadres were organized, civil, and well diffused across Egypt — and seemingly leaderless. The police didn’t know how to react. Participants were trained in non-violent techniques — both online, by the “Khaled Said” page founders, and on the ground, by Bahaar.


In late 2010, the Khaled Said page decided to call for something more ambitious — a nationwide march to demand the dissolution of parliament, the disbanding of the state security agency, seen by Egyptians as the state’s main arm of torture, and the resignation of the interior minister.

The date chosen for mass action was January 25, Egypt’s national police day. Mansour — who was conscripted into the army on January 17 — posted the call for the nationwide march on December 28. Protesters were urged to march to Cairo’s Tahrir Square and other public spaces across the country. The page was not yet calling for Mubarak to go. It was Tunisia’s popular uprising, which reached its climax on January 14 with the ousting of President Zein El Abedine Ben Ali, which turned Egypt’s protests into an uprising.

The protest drew people of all ages and backgrounds. By 8 p.m. a unified, single chant inspired by Tunisia rang around Tahrir (Arabic for “freedom”) Square: “The people demand the fall of the regime.” By then, many understood at least a few of the tactics of non-violent disobedience. “You don’t need to train every single protester, only a small group of activists well connected with people in their local areas. Ideas spread like a virus,” says Bahaar.

Protesters conversed with riot police sent to cordon off the Square. The aim was simple: win over those in uniform. Women gave out food and biscuits to hungry conscripts and officers.
Young people quickly regrouped after being dispersed. Some climbed security personnel carriers to drag down officers firing teargas and water cannons, raising the crowd’s resolve to push security back and gain more ground. A pattern of whistling and rhythmic banging of stones on metal fences in Tahrir spontaneously developed when they needed to rally reinforcements to hold the fort. Protesters would also whistle to signal their success in forcing security to pull back.

Encouraged by the mass protests, the Khaled Said page posted a second online call for Friday, January 28, naming the event a “revolution” to overthrow the regime.

April 6 activists and youth from the Muslim Brotherhood formed the crucial front lines of protesters who broke security cordons and later faced attacks from pro-Mubarak loyalists. The youth of the Muslim Brotherhood, Egypt’s most organized opposition force whose members are accustomed to working within disciplined ranks, played a critical role in organizing activists into security teams to guard Tahrir Square’s multiple entrances. They searched those who came into the square for weapons or fluids that could be turned into Molotov cocktails. They wanted neither infiltrators nor supporters to turn to violence.

To help demonstrators hold true to non-violent resistance, the Academy posted online an eight-minute film covering similar ground to its 2008 manual. This explained how people could protect their chests and backs with makeshift shields made of plastic and thick cardboard, and how to mitigate the effect of teargas by covering their faces with handkerchiefs doused in vinegar, lemons or onions.

For the most part, people were having fun. They also took pride in their ownership of the square. Music was put on. Volunteers and protesters swept it, collected garbage and built outhouses.

“Non-violent action is not just about non-violence, but also about joy and happiness,” Adel said. “The festive atmosphere was a key element to drawing the high numbers that Egypt had rarely seen. People felt safe so they came out. They saw in Tahrir what Egypt could possibly be in the future and they wanted to be part of this new Egypt.”

The protests were not entirely peaceful. In particular, scuffles broke out after a group of thugs thought to have been organized by Mubarak’s henchmen charged through the square on horses and camels on February 2, beating and whipping protestors in what came to be known as the “Battle of the Camel”. Many demonstrators fought back, throwing stones at Mubarak loyalists to keep them from entering the square. But there was no wholesale riot and discipline returned.

“The key to a successful non-violent revolt is its ability to constantly reinvent and correct itself,” Adel says. “If violence or conflict breaks out, quickly resolve it while finding ways to avoid it.” Trained cadres shouted “peaceful, peaceful!” to restrain their hotter-headed colleagues. Soon after, the army, which had not been involved in the clashes, said it would not fire on unarmed civilians.

Nine days later Mubarak was gone.

Music of The Revolution: How Songs of Protest Have Rallied Demonstrators


Look up the original site and get several of the movies.

Music almost always plays a pivotal role in protest movements, with songs and chants unifying dissidents in their rallying cries. Unlike movements of decades past, however, protest music made popular during the recent revolution in Tunisia, Egypt, and beyond spread virally with the help YouTube and Facebook.


Twenty-one-year-old Hamada Ben Amor, known as El Général—an underground rapper living in the town of Sfax south of Tunis—uploaded a song he had written called “Rais Le Bled” (“President, Your Country”) to Facebook on November 7. The rap called out then-president Zine El Abidine Ben Ali for the problems faced by average Tunisians trying to make a living, including food scarcity, a lack of freedom of speech, and unemployment with lyrics like: “Mr. President, your people are dying/People are eating rubbish/Look at what is happening/Miseries everywhere Mr. President/I talk with no fear/Although I know I will only get troubles/I see injustice everywhere.”

The Voice of Tunisia

The rap was picked up by local TV station Tunivision and Al-Jazeera and resonated with many Tunisians who quickly began sharing the song. Soon enough, the government blocked the musician’s Facebook page and cut off his mobile phone. Despite the attempt to make his music disappear, El Général’s song quickly became the anthem of the Jasmine Revolution.

El Général then recorded another song of protest call “Tounes Bladna” (“Tunisia Our Country”) on December 22. By that point, Ali’s regime had had enough with the musician. El Général was arrested by state security on January 6, taken to the Ministry of Interior, and interrogated for three days.

He tells The Guardian, “They kept asking me which political party I worked for. ‘Don’t you know it’s forbidden to sing songs like that?’ they said. But I just answered, ‘Why? I’m only telling the truth.’ I was in there for three days, but it felt like three years.” The public was outraged and began demanding his release. The pressure mounted on the government worked and he was soon released from detention.

Since Ben Ali left office on January 14, El Général’s tunes have continued to serve as a rallying cry for other demonstrators in the Middle East, and his work has proven to be popular among demonstrators in Bahrain.


Egyptian poet Ahmed Fouad Negm (“Uncle Ahmed”), a popular voice for the poor who has spent 18 of his 81 years in Egyptian prisons, wrote “The Donkey and the Foal,” a commentary about then-president Hosni Mubarak and his son Gamal. Musician Ramy Essam, who had taken to playing in Tahrir Square during the protest, set the poem to music and sang the song as Negm stood beside him.

Essam then penned the song “Leave,” inspired by the slogans and chants being shouted around Tahrir Square:

“We are all united as one,

And what we ask for,

Is just one thing: Leave! Leave! (x3)

Down, down Husni Mubarak! (x4)

The people demand: Bring down the regime! (x4)

He is going away. We are not going anywhere! (x4)

We are all united as one,

And what we ask for,

Is just one thing: Leave! Leave! Leave! (x4)”

The Truth Behind the Egyptian Revolution

Amir and Adel Eid from the Egyptian rock band Cairo-Kee gathered up other artists to record “Sout Al Horeya” (“The Voice of Freedom”), which quickly became another anthem for the revolution. The video for the song was shot entirely inside Tahrir Square during the revolution using a basic digital SLR camera.

“I went down to the streets vowing not to return, and wrote with my blood on every street.

Our voices reached those who could not hear them

And we broke through all barriers

Our weapon was our dreams

And tomorrow is looking as bright as it seems….”

Sout Al Horeya


Traditional songs have also played an important role in demonstrations. Libyans in the liberated eastern parts of the country forged bonds by singing the old national anthem while waving the tricolor flag from before Gaddafi came to power in 1969 as “a symbol of the reinvention of the Libyans.”

In this video, the massive crowd in Beghanzi sings the old anthem to share their pride in being liberated.


The Narcicyst, an Iraqi-born rapper living in Toronto, joined with other musicians from the Arabic rap diaspora in North America, such as Omar Offendum, Amir Sulaiman, and Canadian R&B singer Ayah, to record a track called “#Jan25 Egypt,” based off the popular hashtag used during the demonstrations in Egypt. In an Al Jazeera English interview, Omar said that it’s a “song of solidarity with the Egyptian people and [a way] to open it up [what’s happening in Egypt] to an audience in the United States.” The song starts:

“I heard ’em say

The revolution won’t be televised

Aljazeera proved ’em wrong

Twitter has him paralyzed

80 million strong

And ain’t no longer gonna be terrorized

Organized – Mobilized – Vocalized

On the side of TRUTH

Um il-Dunya’s living proof

That its a matter of time

before the chicken is home to roost”

Omar Offendum


Check out Mideast Tunes, a hub launched by Mideast Youth for the region’s underground and alternative music scenes. You can browse music by country or genre. The site has highlighted a number of other protest songs coming out of the region for its listeners (1, 2).

Abdulla Darrat, co-founder of the (Khalas) site run by a Libyan exiles (now found at, put together a “mixtape” featuring hip-hop artists from the region. The mix, called “Mish B3eed,” or “Not Far,” features songs describing the conditions in Egypt, Libya, Tunisia, and Algeria. It can be downloaded here.

Durrat says, “[These musicians and emcees] very successfully put into words a lot of the sentiments that young people in the area are carrying with them, and they’re voicing really the struggle of…everyday people.”

Are any popular protest songs missing? Share them in the comments below!

Bolivia: Coca-chewing protest outside US embassy

From BBC

Indigenous activists in Bolivia have been holding a mass coca-chewing protest as part of campaign to end an international ban on the practice.

The protest was good-natured

The protest was good-natured

Hundreds of people chewed the leaf outside the US embassy in La Paz and in other cities across the country.

Bolivia wants to amend a UN drugs treaty that bans chewing coca, which is an ancient tradition in the Andes.

But the US has said it will veto the amendment because coca is also the raw material for making cocaine.

The protesters outside the US embassy also displayed products made from coca, including soft drinks, toothpaste, sweets and ointments.

They were supporting a Bolivian government campaign to amend the 1961 UN Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs to remove language that bans the chewing of coca leaf.

The convention stipulates that coca-chewing be eliminated within 25 years of the convention coming into effect in 1964.

Bolivia says that is discriminatory, given that coca use is so deeply rooted in the indigenous culture of the Andes.


The US is opposed to changing the UN convention because it says it would weaken the fight against cocaine production.

In a statement, the US embassy said Washington recognised coca-chewing as a “traditional custom” of Bolivia’s indigenous peoples but could not support the amendment.

“The position of the US government in not supporting the amendment is based on the importance of maintaining the integrity of the UN convention, which is an important tool in the fight against drug-trafficking,” it said.

The US is the world’s largest consumer of cocaine and has been leading efforts to eradicate coca production in the Andes for decades.

Bolivia is the world’s first biggest producer of cocaine after Peru and Colombia, and much of its coca crop is used to make the illegal drug.

Bolivian President Evo Morales has long advocated the recognition of coca as a plant of great medicinal, cultural and religious importance that is distinct from cocaine.

As well as being Bolivia’s first indigenous head of state, Mr Morales is also a former coca-grower and leader of a coca-growers trade union.

The Bolivian amendment would come into effect on 31 January only if there were no objections.

The Fall of the West’s Little Dictator

“A Watershed Moment in the History of the Arab World”

By ESAM AL-AMIN CounterPunch

When people choose life (with freedom)
Destiny will respond and take action
Darkness will surely fade away
And the chains will certainly be broken

Tunisian poet Abul Qasim Al-Shabbi (1909-1934)

On New Year’s Eve 1977, former President Jimmy Carter was toasting Shah Reza Pahlavi in Tehran, calling the Western-backed monarchy “an island of stability” in the Middle East. But for the next 13 months, Iran was anything but stable. The Iranian people were daily protesting the brutality of their dictator, holding mass demonstrations from one end of the country to the other.

Protesters want the unity government to exclude members of Mr Ben Ali's RCD party

Protesters want the unity government to exclude members of Mr Ben Ali's RCD party

Initially, the Shah described the popular protests as part of a conspiracy by communists and Islamic extremists, and employed an iron fist policy relying on the brutal use of force by his security apparatus and secret police. When this did not work, the Shah had to concede some of the popular demands, dismissing some of his generals, and promising to crack down on corruption and allow more freedom, before eventually succumbing to the main demand of the revolution by fleeing the country on Jan. 16, 1979.

But days before leaving, he installed a puppet prime minister in the hope that he could quell the protests allowing him to return. As he hopped from country to country, he discovered that he was unwelcome in most parts of the world. Western countries that had hailed his regime for decades were now abandoning him in droves in the face of popular revolution.

Fast forward to Tunisia 32 years later.

What took 54 weeks to accomplish in Iran was achieved in Tunisia in less than four. The regime of President Zein-al-Abidin Ben Ali represented in the eyes of his people not only the features of a suffocating dictatorship, but also the characteristics of a mafia-controlled society riddled with massive corruption and human rights abuses.

On December 17, Mohammed Bouazizi, a 26-year-old unemployed graduate in the central town of Sidi Bouzid, set himself on fire in an attempt to commit suicide. Earlier in the day, police officers took away his stand and confiscated the fruits and vegetables he was selling because he lacked a permit. When he tried to complain to government officials that he was unemployed and that this was his only means of survival, he was mocked, insulted and beaten by the police. He died 19 days later in the midst of the uprising.

Bouazizi’s act of desperation set off the public’s boiling frustration over living standards, corruption and lack of political freedom and human rights. For the next four weeks, his self-immolation sparked demonstrations in which protesters burned tires and chanted slogans demanding jobs and freedom. Protests soon spread all over the country including its capital, Tunis.

The first reaction by the regime was to clamp down and use brutal force including beatings, tear gas, and live ammunition. The more ruthless tactics the security forces employed, the more people got angry and took to the streets. On Dec. 28 the president gave his first speech claiming that the protests were organized by a “minority of extremists and terrorists” and that the law would be applied “in all firmness” to punish protesters.

However, by the start of the New Year tens of thousands of people, joined by labor unions, students, lawyers, professional syndicates, and other opposition groups, were demonstrating in over a dozen cities. By the end of the week, labor unions called for commercial strikes across the country, while 8,000 lawyers went on strike, bringing the entire judiciary system to an immediate halt.

Meanwhile, the regime started cracking down on bloggers, journalists, artists and political activists. It restricted all means of dissent, including social media. But following nearly 80 deaths by the security forces, the regime started to back down.

On Jan. 13, Ben Ali gave his third televised address, dismissing his interior minister and announcing unprecedented concessions while vowing not to seek re-election in 2014. He also pledged to introduce more freedoms into society, and to investigate the killings of protesters during the demonstrations. When this move only emboldened the protestors, he then addressed his people in desperation, promising fresh legislative elections within six months in an attempt to quell mass dissent.

When this ploy also did not work, he imposed a state of emergency, dismissing the entire cabinet and promising to deploy the army on a shoot to kill order. However, as the head of the army Gen. Rachid Ben Ammar refused to order his troops to kill the demonstrators in the streets, Ben Ali found no alternative but to flee the country and the rage of his people.

On Jan. 14 his entourage flew in four choppers to the Mediterranean island of Malta. When Malta refused to accept them, he boarded a plane heading to France. While in mid air he was told by the French that he would be denied entry. The plane then turned back to the gulf region until he was finally admitted and welcomed by Saudi Arabia. The Saudi regime has a long history of accepting despots including Idi Amin of Uganda and Parvez Musharraf of Pakistan.

But a few days before the deposed president left Tunis, his wife Leila Trabelsi, a former hairdresser known for her compulsive shopping, took over a ton and a half of pure gold from the central bank and left for Dubai along with her children. The first lady and the Trabelsi family are despised by the public for their corrupt lifestyle and financial scandals.

As chaos engulfed the political elites, the presidential security apparatus started a campaign of violence and property destruction in a last ditch attempt to saw discord and confusion. But the army, aided by popular committees, moved quickly to arrest them and stop the destruction campaign by imposing a night curfew throughout the country.

A handful of high-profile security officials such as the head of presidential security and the former interior minister, as well as business oligarchs including Ben Ali’s relatives and Trabelsi family members, were either killed by crowds or arrested by the army as they attempted to flee the country.

Meanwhile, after initially declaring himself a temporary president, the prime minister had to back down from that decision within 20 hours in order to assure the public that Ben Ali was gone forever. The following day, the speaker of parliament was sworn in as president, promising a national unity government and elections within 60 days.

Most Western countries, including the U.S. and France, were slow in recognizing the fast-paced events. President Barack Obama did not say a word as the events were unfolding. But once Ben Ali was deposed, he declared: “the U.S. stands with the entire international community in bearing witness to this brave and determined struggle for the universal rights that we must all uphold.” He continued: “We will long remember the images of the Tunisian people seeking to make their voices heard. I applaud the courage and dignity of the Tunisian people.”

Similarly, the French President, Nicolas Sarkozy, not only abandoned his Tunisian ally by refusing to admit him in the country while his flight was en route, but he even ordered Ben Ali’s relatives staying in expensive apartments and luxury hotels in Paris to leave the country.

The following day the French government announced that it would freeze all accounts that belonged to the deposed president, his family, or in-laws, in a direct admission that the French government was already aware that such assets were the product of corruption and ill-gotten money.

The nature of Ben Ali’s regime: Corruption, Repression and Western Backing

A recently published report from Global Financial Integrity (GFI), titled: “Illicit Financial Flows from Developing Countries: 2000-2009,” estimates Tunisia was losing billions of dollars to illicit financial activities and official government corruption, in a state budget that is less than $10 billion and GDP less than $40 billion per year.

Economist and co-author of the study, Karly Curcio, notes: “Political unrest is perpetuated, in part, by corrupt and criminal activity in the country. GFI estimates that the amount of illegal money lost from Tunisia due to corruption, bribery, kickbacks, trade mispricing, and criminal activity between 2000 and 2008 was, on average, over one billion dollars per year, specifically $1.16 billion per annum.”

A 2008 Amnesty International study, titled: “In the Name of Security: Routine Abuses in Tunisia,” reported that “serious human rights violations were being committed in connection with the government’s security and counterterrorism policies.” Reporters Without Borders also issued a report that stated Ben Ali’s regime was “obsessive in its control of news and information. Journalists and human rights activists are the target of bureaucratic harassment, police violence and constant surveillance by the intelligence services.”

The former U.S. Ambassador in Tunis, Robert Godec, has admitted as much. In a cable to his bosses in Washington, dated July 17, 2009, recently made public by Wikileaks, he stated with regard to the political elites: “they rely on the police for control and focus on preserving power. And, corruption in the inner circle is growing. Even average Tunisians are now keenly aware of it, and the chorus of complaints is rising.”

Even when the U.S. Congress approved millions of dollars in military aid for Tunisia last year, it noted “restrictions on political freedom, the use of torture, imprisonment of dissidents, and persecution of journalists and human rights defenders.”

Yet, ever since he seized power in 1987, Ben Ali counted on the support of the West to maintain his grip on the country. Indeed, Gen. Ben Ali was the product of the French Military Academy and the U.S. Army School at Ft. Bliss, TX. He also completed his intelligence and military security training at Ft. Holabird, MD.

Since he had spent most of his career as a military intelligence and security officer, he developed, over the years, close relationships with western intelligence agencies, especially the CIA, as well as the French and other NATO intelligence services.

Based on a European intelligence source, Al-Jazeera recently reported that when Ben Ali served as his country’s ambassador to Poland between 1980-1984 (a strange post for a military and intelligence officer), he was actually serving NATO’s interests by acting as the main contact between the CIA and NATO’s intelligence services and the Polish opposition in order to undermine the Soviet-backed regime.

In 1999 Fulvio Martini, former head of Italian military secret service SISMI, declared to a parliamentary committee that “In 1985-1987, we (in NATO) organized a kind of golpe (i.e. coup d’etat) in Tunisia, putting president Ben Ali as head of state, replacing Burghuiba,” in reference to the first president of Tunisia.

During his confirmation hearing in July 2009 as U.S. Ambassador to Tunisia, Gordon Gray reiterated the West’s support for the regime as he told the Senate Foreign Relations committee, “We’ve had a long-standing military relationship with the government and with the military. It’s very positive. Tunisian military equipment is of U.S. origin, so we have a long-standing assistance program there.”

Tunisia’s strategic importance to the U.S. is also recognized by the fact that its policy is determined by the National Security Council rather than the State Department. Furthermore, since Ben Ali became president, the U.S. military delivered $350 million in military hardware to his regime.

As recently as last year, the Obama administration asked Congress to approve a $282 million sale of more military equipment to help the security agencies maintain control over the population. In his letter to Congress, the President said: “This proposed sale will contribute to the foreign policy and national security of the United States by helping to improve the security of a friendly country.”

During the Bush administration the U.S. defined its relationship with other countries not based on its grandiose rhetoric on freedom and democracy, but rather on how each country would embrace its counter-terrorism campaign and pro-Israel policies in the region. On both accounts Tunisia scored highly.

For instance, a Wikileaks cable from Tunis, dated Feb. 28, 2008, reported a meeting between Assistant Secretary of State David Welch and Ben Ali in which the Tunisian president offered his country’s intelligence cooperation “without reservation” including FBI access to “Tunisian detainees” inside Tunisian prisons.

In his first trip to the region in April 2009, President Obama’s special envoy to the Middle East, George Mitchell, stopped first in Tunisia and declared that his talks with its officials “were excellent.” He hailed the “strong ties” between both governments, as well as Tunisia’s support of U.S. efforts in the Middle East. He stressed President Obama’s “high consideration” of Ben Ali.

Throughout his 23 year rule, hundreds of Tunisian human rights activists and critics such as opposition leaders Sihem Ben Sedrine and Moncef Marzouki, were arrested, detained, and sometimes tortured after they spoke out against the human rights abuses and massive corruption sanctioned by his regime. Meanwhile, thousands of members of the Islamic movement were arrested, tortured and tried in sham trials.

In its Aug. 2009 report, titled: “Tunisia, Continuing Abuses in the Name of Security,” Amnesty International said: “The Tunisian authorities continue to carry out arbitrary arrests and detentions, allow torture and use unfair trials, all in the name of the fight against terrorism. This is the harsh reality behind the official rhetoric.”

Western governments were quite aware of the nature of this regime. But they decided to overlook the regime’s corruption and repression to secure their short-term interests. The State Department’s own 2008 Human Rights Report detailed many cases of “torture and other cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment” including rapes of female political prisoners by the regime. Without elaboration or condemnation, the report coldly concluded: “Police assaulted human rights and opposition activists throughout the year.”

What next?

“The dictator has fallen but not the dictatorship,” declared Rachid Ghannouchi, the Islamic leader of the opposition party, al-Nahdha or Renaissance, who has been in exile in the U.K. for the past 22 years. During the reign of Ben Ali, his group was banned and thousands of its members were either tortured, imprisoned or exiled. He himself was tried and sentenced to death in absentia. He has announced his return to the country soon.

This statement by al-Nahdha’s leader has reflected the popular sentiment cautioning that both the new president, Fouad Al-Mubazaa’, and prime minister Mohammad Ghannouchi have been members of Ben Ali’s party: The Constitutional Democratic Party. And thus their credibility is suspect. They have helped in implementing the deposed dictator’s policies for over a decade.

Nevertheless, the Prime Minister promised, on the day Ben Ali fled the country, a government of national unity. Within days he announced a government that retained most of the former ministers (including the most important posts of defense, foreign , interior and finance), while including three ministers from the opposition and some independents close to the labor and lawyers unions. Many other opposition parties were either ignored or refused to join based on principle protesting the ruling party’s past.

In less than 24 hours, huge demonstrations took place all over the country on Jan. 18 in protest of the inclusion of the ruling party. Immediately four ministers representing the labor union and an opposition party resigned from the new government until a true national unity government is formed. Another opposition party suspended its participation until the ruling party ministers are either dismissed or resign their position.

Within hours the president and the prime minister resigned from the ruling party and declared themselves as independents. Still, most opposition parties are demanding their removal and their replacement with reputable and national leaders who are truly “independent” and have “clean hands.” They question how the same interior minister who organized the fraudulent elections of Ben Ali less than 15 months ago, could supervise free and fair elections now.

It’s not clear if the new government would even survive the rage of the street. But perhaps its most significant announcement was issuing a general amnesty and promising a release of all political prisoners in detentions and in exile. It also established three national commissions.

The first commission is headed by one of the most respected constitutional scholars, Prof. ‘Ayyadh Ben Ashour, to address political and constitutional reforms. The other two are headed by former human rights advocates; one to investigate official corruption, while the other to investigate the killing of the demonstrators during the popular uprising. All three commissions were appointed in response to the main demands by the demonstrators and opposition parties.

January 14, 2011 has indeed become a watershed date in the modern history of the Arab World. Already, about a dozen would-be martyrs have attempted suicide by setting themselves ablaze in public protest of political repression and economic corruption, in Egypt, Algeria and Mauritania. Opposition movements have already led protests praising the Tunisian uprising and protesting their governments’ repressive policies and corruption in many Arab countries, including Egypt, Jordan, Algeria, Libya, Yemen, and the Sudan.

The verdict on the ultimate success of the Tunisian revolution is still out. Will it be aborted by either infighting or the introduction of illusory changes to absorb the public’s anger? Or will real and lasting change be established, enshrined in a new constitution that is based on democratic principles, political freedom, freedoms of press and assembly, independence of the judiciary, respect of human rights, and end of foreign interference?

As the answers to these questions unfold in the next few months, the larger question of whether there is a domino effect on the rest of the Arab world will become clearer.

But perhaps the ultimate lesson to Western policymakers is this: Real change is the product of popular will and sacrifice, not imposed by foreign interference or invasions.

To topple the Iraqi dictator, it cost the U.S. over 4,500 dead soldiers, 32,000 injured, a trillion dollars, a sinking economy, at least 150,000 dead Iraqis, a half-million injured, and the devastation of their country, as well as the enmity of billions of Muslims and other people around the world.

Meanwhile, the people of Tunisia toppled another brutal dictator with less than 100 dead who will forever be remembered and honored by their countrymen and women as heroes who paid the ultimate price for freedom.

Esam Al-Amin can be reached at alamin1919 (at)

Richmond Cops Mistakenly Hand Over Anti-Protest Guides to Anarchist

From: The

After filing a Freedom of Information Act request with the Richmond Police Department for police training documents, Mo Karn received much more than expected in return: homeland security and crowd control guides that show how the police target protests.

The police filed for an emergency court order yesterday to prohibit Karn from publicizing any of the documents, which should never have been released. The cops’ reasoning? “Defendant Mo Karn is a known and admitted anarchist.”

The documents, however, have already been published online. And buried in the training guides are insights into three trends in law enforcement that have been occurring not just in Virginia, but nationally: the demonization of protest, the militarization of police, and turning local cops into “terrorism” officials.

The Demonization of Protest

The Richmond Police Department’s Emergency Operations Plan
includes a section on “civil disturbances.” While this sounds innocuous, “civil disturbances” are defined so broadly as to include what the police call “dissident gatherings.”

“The City of Richmond is a target rich environment” for antiwar protesters, the document says. And it warns that police and homeland security have reason to be increasingly concerned:

“Current training and intelligence reveals that protestors are becoming more proficient in the methods of assembly.”

Militarization of Local Police

Such a depiction of “assembly” (a First Amendment right) as a “disturbance” and a threat is all the more troubling when put in the context of the other police department guides. Richmond’s Crowd Management Operating Manual is for the police unit assigned to large protests (no experience required). Among the tools that the crowd management team are issued include riot shields, chemical agents, cut tools, helmets, body armor, cameras, video cameras, batons, gas masks, and a “mass arrest kit.”

Deputizing Local Cops as Counter-terrorism Officials

This militarization of local police is accompanied by another trend in law enforcement since September 11th: deputizing local cops to becoming “homeland security” and counter-terrorism officials. According to the Homeland Security Criminal Intelligence Unit Operating Manual, “The Richmond Police Department is under contract with the FBI to provide assistance through staffing, intelligence and equipment.” And one member of the homeland security unit is assigned to the Joint Terrorism Task Force.

The result? Documents like the Virginia Terrorism Threat Assessment. The 2009 document was created by the Virginia Fusion Center, of which the Richmond Police Department is part. Fusion centers are ostensibly designed to gather terrorism intelligence from multiple police agencies, and make us safer. In practice, they routinely label activists as “terrorists.” Among the “terrorist threats” identified in Virginia were animal rights activists, environmental activists, and anarchists.

According to the threat assessment, “The Virginia Federation of Anarchists has held two conferences in Richmond in November 2007 and January 2008? and “Anarchist protesters at the International Monetary Fund in Washington, D.C. spilled over into Prince William County.”

Karn, meanwhile, wears her scarlet circle ‘A’ with pride, and has no problem being labeled an anarchist. The FOIA was submitted by the Wingnut Collective, a Richmond anarchist group, as part of their police accountability project.

In his court motion warning that Karn is an “anarchist,” Richmond’s Deputy Assistant Attorney Brian Telfair doesn’t allege the possibility of any violence or property destruction. Instead, he cites a blog post by Karn about acquiring government information through legal requests. The title? “FOIA Rocks!”

Tunisian Unrest Stirs Arab World

By Emad Mekay IPS

CAIRO, Dec 31, 2010 (IPS) – As Western countries were busy celebrating Christmas and dealing with air traffic holiday delays because of snow blizzards, the tranquil North African country of Tunisia was going through events that would have been thought unthinkable just three weeks ago – public unrest that saw thousands demonstrate against the regime of President Zine el Abidine Ben Ali.

Tunisia suicide protester Mohammed Bouazizi dies

Tunisia suicide protester Mohammed Bouazizi dies

While the media and policy makers went heads over heals in the United States and Europe during similar protests against the disputed presidential elections in Iran in 2009, the unexpected events went largely ignored in the Western media. Tunisian bloggers and twitter posts are now the main source for minute by minute development of the unrest.

Arabs across the Middle East Watched in awe as online video posts and sporadic coverage on Al-Jazeera TV station showed Tunisians, with a reputation of passivity, rise up in unprecedented street protests and sits-in against the police state of President Ben Ali.

The Ben Ali regime exemplifies the “moderate” pro-Western Arab regimes that boast strict control of their population while toeing the line of Western powers in the Middle East.

The spark of the unrest, now about to end its second week, came when a 26- year-old unemployed university graduate, Mohammed Buazizi, set himself ablaze in the central town Sidi Buzeid to protest the confiscation of his fruits and vegetables cart.

Buaziz’s suicide attempt was copied by at least two other young university graduates in protest against poor economic conditions in the Arab country.

Similar to previous unrests in many Western-backed Arab countries, the police responded with overwhelming force. There were reports of use of live ammunition, house-to-house raids to chase activists, mass arrests and torture of prisoners.

The police initially crushed the demonstrations in Sidi Buzeid after cutting all communication and roads to the town, only to be faced with more demonstrations in several neighboring towns.

Egypt had followed the same tactics against unrest by factory workers in the industrial city Al-Mahal El Kobra on April 16, 2007, and killed the unrest in just four days after the regime managed to control media reports from inside the town, and major Western media outlets either ignored the events or belittled them as ineffectual.

But unlike the unrest in Egypt, there are reports of demonstrations and clashes spreading in Tunisia to the towns Gandouba, Qabes and Genyana among others.

The Ben Ali regime blamed “radical elements”, “chaos mongers” and “a minority of mercenaries” for incitement, all typical accusations by Arab rulers in face of signs of fidgeting among their oppressed publics.

So far, according to press reports and Web posts, at least two protestors have died, with many injured in the protests.

On Thursday, human rights activist and blogger Lina Ben Mhenni reported a third death and said that police was conducting house-to-house raids to chase activists ( The report has not been independently verified.

The Tunisian Journalists’ Syndicate issued a statement last week decrying official attempts “to hinder media coverage and stop reporters from doing their job.”

The communications minister has banned the showing of Al-Jazeera channel in Tunisian coffee shops or any public viewing, according to another web post by an unidentified Tunisian man.

A blogger wrote: “They are clamping down on the Internet too, blocking some sites and Facebook accounts. I might not be able to post any longer. If I disappear suddenly, please pray for me.”

Comments from across the Arab countries followed in support.

“Thank Allah the peoples of the region are finally waking up and are protesting against the tyrants who spread injustice and corruption all over the face of the earth,” a post from Dubai said.

“The end of the Arab regimes looks so near,” another post from Egypt said.

Other Arabs are seeing the demonstration as an inspiration. In chat forums and social media, Arabs were applauding the protestors, often calling them “heroes”.

The Egyptian opposition leader Hamadeen Sabahi called for a demonstration on Sunday in solidarity with the “Tunisian Intifadah”.

The fear of similar spillover into Arab countries pushed at least one Arab ruler to rush to aid Ben Ali. Libya’s maverick leader Muammar Qaddaif said he was immediately dropping all restrictions on the entry of Tunisian labour into Libya. Tunisians were free to travel to his oil-rich country for work, he said.

Opposition says the unrest was prompted by high prices and unemployment but now has turned political with some demonstrators calling on President Ben Ali to step down.

Tunisia, like other non-oil producing Arab countries has implemented a Western-inspired privatization programme and gradual cut to state subsidies to staple goods without offering alternative sources of income.

Yet as the Tunisians waited impatiently, the fruits of the alleged economic reforms never came. Pictures and video on social media showed protestors holding bread loaves, a sign of hunger and poverty.

Tunisia’s protests caught the region by surprise as the Ben Ali regime, like other rulers, had often trumpeted his country as an oasis of stability.

Trying to absorb the shock, Ben Ali announced a small cabinet reshuffle but left the interior ministry intact. He vowed a clampdown on the protestors. (END)

Imran Khan threatens civil disobedience in Pakistan

Imran Khan threatens civil disobedience in Pakistan
2011-01-03 19:20:00

Islamabad, Jan 3 (IANS) Tehreek-e-Insaaf chief Imran Khan has threatened to launch a civil disobedience movement ‘if the incumbent rulers of Pakistan do not mend their ways’.

Speaking at a public rally in Rawalpindi, the World Cup-winning cricketer-turned-politician called upon the people to support his party as the Pakistan Peoples Party-led government has failed to steer the country out of crises, the Express Tribune reported Monday.

Khan said the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) and the PPP have a secret agreement to support each other’s government in Punjab and at the centre for a minimum of five years.

The PML-N wasn’t a ‘friendly opposition’, rather it was hand-in-glove with the ruling party, he said.

‘The two parties have a secret agreement. The PML-N will allow the PPP-led government at the centre to complete its five-year tenure. And in return, the PPP will let the PML-N government in Punjab to complete its tenure,’ he said.

Khan termed the recent increase in petroleum prices as ‘economic murder’ of the people.

He came down hard on Nawaz Sharif and President Asif Ali Zardari, saying people would hold accountable the politicians who transferred money to foreign banks.

Sharif, who heads the second largest party in the country, was paying only Rs.5,000 in income tax, Khan said.

Bloody Sunday came to Belarus

From Nash Dom Civic Campaign

Nash Dom Civic Campaign members give their accounts
of what happened and is happening in the country now.
Women are among the most affected.

Russia in 1905.
India in 1930.
Hungary in 1956.
South Africa in 1960 and 1986.
Chechslovakia in 1968.
Poland in 1956 and 1970.
American South in 1960.
Northern Ireland in 1972.
Chile in 1973.
Palestine in 1988.
China in 1989.
Romania in 1989.
Lithuania in 1991.
Kosovo in 1998.

This sad list is incomplete, of course. What is sadder, it does not stop. December 19, 2010, added another line here. Bloody Sunday came to Belarus. The ruling regime threw away a mask they were putting on the last year, and had no qualms about a bloodbath. A peaceful manifestation of about 50,000 people was violently dispersed, more than 600 people are jailed. Hundreds of the people were injured, some of them may be dead. Nearly all alternative presidential candidates were beaten, some of them severely, and one of them is rumored to be dead.

Why was the manifestation? The citizens where determined to show their peaceful protest against stealing of another election campaign. All the demonstrators wanted was an explanation why the election process became so non-transparent and at the same time so tightly controlled by the ruling group. Instead of a legitimate and logical explanation, they were beaten by clubs, brass knuckles, and heavy police boots.

Several members of the Nash Dom Civic Campaign were among the 50,000 who headed to the House of Government where the official Central Election Commission must be located. The people had a lot of questions to the chair of the Commission and the Prosecutor General. It was already late evening, but those officials had to be at their places during the final day of the election. Besides, that was probably the only possible way to hold those officials accountable, because any other peaceful ways tried by citizens and their leaders were efficiently blocked by the laws and decrees signed in no time by just one person, or simply by plain ignoring.

The citizens had a lot of grounds to late claims. All the local election commissions are headed by people completely dependent on the ruling group, and nothing can efficiently prevent forging the election results. Since about the year of 1998 the votes are counted almost privately by a limited number of people who know only too well that for the ‘necessary’ result they will get a small award, otherwise they will be severely punished. With the current election legislation in Belarus there is no way to learn the real preferences of the citizens. But even more, during this election campaign there were numerous violations of the current legislation and suspicious actions. Many members of the Nash Dom Civic Campaign know it firsthand because they were observers at some election precincts.

Many Belarusian citizens and democratic activists, including Nash Dom members, joined efforts in a nonviolent action which revealed the true situation in Belarus. Until recently, the ruling regime just snarled and hissed at people, they could not hold a dialogue themselves and they were doing their best to silence people. Now the regime enforcers are still breaking into houses and apartments, take people out in plain night, beat them and jail them.
Most of the presidential candidates are jailed, in spite of the fact that they are inviolable until December 29, the day of final vote count. One of the candidates and many demonstrators are plain missing, just like many political opponents of the current regime got missing in 1997-2001. We all hope that the situation is not the same as it was in Chile and Argentine in the 70s and 80s, but the similarities are too appalling.

Unfortunately, this was also experienced only too well by one of the Nash Dom members, Kristina Shatikova, a mother of two. When she and her friends were rounded up, enforcers beat them skillfully, taking into account that the victims were female. The enforcers were trying to hit abdomens and lower part of the body. When the young women were arrested, they had to stand this whole freezing night in police vans, without a possibility to use toilet. Even more, the enforcers took away hats, caps, scarves, and gloves. Many women were threatened to be drowned in toilet bowls. Because of the torturing conditions, many women lost consciousness. It all looked like a planned action to deprive the women of the right of being mothers again.

When after the freezing night Kristina Shatikova was taken to the Oktiabrski Police Department in Minsk, beatings continued. The enforcer Vitali Pozniak behaved as a real bandit. He was kicking Kristina in the corridor, strangled her in his room. He had no insignia on him, but apparently he was not rank-and-file. The tortures varied, and one of them were night interrogations. Even by the current legislation this is a violation. Besides, when Kristina signed the protocol and put a dash in the witnesses section, the protocol was taken away. It is very likely that the police will forge the protocol and write it again the way they like. In such cases the witnesses are usually the enforcers themselves. The signature of the interrogated is not a problem at all, the standard words ‘the interrogated refused to sign the protocol’ is more than welcome in the judicial system of Belarus.

This illegal legal system hurts not only their opponents. Any citizen can become a victim. When Kristina was released, she told us about a young woman who was apprehended just because she happened to be near. She was desperate because her baby was left alone at home, and begged to let her go. This amused the enforcers even more, and the softest name they gave her was ‘a dirty cow’. They spared her beating, but it would be a miracle if the woman is still able to breast-feed the baby after the physical and emotional stress.

The violations of the most basic human rights and international norm are going on right now, in this very moment. Enforcers break into offices of all noticeable social organizations and into private apartments of their activists throughout the country, and loot them calling this ‘a legal search’. They confiscate belongings and are especially greedy to get hold of computers. They cut telephone and Internet communication, hoping to isolate people and devour them one by one. The alternative candidates, their friends, simply people they know: anyone who might have their own opinion about the last show the authorities call ‘elections’ is an enemy to be oppressed, deprived of property and private life, injured, jailed, and even killed.

The regime targets families. Private apartments are raided violently, sometimes late at night, and children witness the searches. A three-year old boy of one of the alternative candidates was threatened to be put into a facility (both his parents are jailed after December 19), and only active position of the grandmother saved him some of childhood.
Now we see that the current authorities in Belarus do not care for the lives of Belarusians. They do not even consider that Belarusians are humans, depriving them of normal representatives and judicial system.

In many countries listed at the beginning the Bloody Sundays led to revolutions, and revolutions always cost lives. The war against Belarusians and Belarusian women in particular is already going on, and it costs lives of many babies who will not be born, many lives of women who are crippled spiritually and physically.
* * *
Recently Argentina jailed their former dictator Jorge Videla for life, though it took over 30 years to get hold of him. It may take Belarusians longer, but we keep our records, and the Nash Dom Civic Campaign makes their contribution.

Ouattara camp urges civil disobedience

From News24

Abidjan – The shadow government of would-be Ivory Coast president Alassane Ouattara urged the Ivorian people to rise up on Tuesday in a campaign of civil disobedience against strongman Laurent Gbagbo.

Alassane Ouattara urged the Ivorian people to rise up in a campaign of civil disobedience against strongman Laurent Gbagbo

Alassane Ouattara urged the Ivorian people to rise up in a campaign of civil disobedience against strongman Laurent Gbagbo

“I call on you to show disobedience to Laurent Gbagbo’s fake government, from this moment until it falls,” Guillaume Soro, Ouattara’s choice for prime minister, declared in a statement.

Gbagbo and Ouattara both claim to have won last month’s Ivorian election but – while Ouattara has been recognised by the UN and the world community – the incumbent has clung on to power.

The United Nations has accused Gbagbo’s supporters in the security forces of involvement in “massive human rights abuses”, including night-time raids to kill or kidnap Ouattara supporters.

‘Murderous insanity’

Soro, the leader of the “New Forces” former rebel movement, repeated these accusations and demanded: “When will the international community realise that a murderous insanity has begun in Ivory Coast?

“In the face of these atrocities, the government I lead can no longer tolerate impunity. That is why it is our conviction that Mr Gbagbo must immediately leave power,” he said.

“In addition, we ask the brave and proud Ivorian people, in campgrounds, villages and cities to organise, mobilise and protest by all means possible until Mr Laurent Gbagbo’s departure from power,” he said.

Soro addressed his call to: “Ivorians from the city, Ivorians from the country, workers, officials, executives, generals, officers, NCOs, soldiers, everyone, my brothers and sisters.”

Ouattara and Soro are holed up in a luxury resort on the outskirts of Abidjan protected by UN peacekeepers, while Gbagbo has held on to government ministries in the heart of the city and controls the security forces.

An attempt by elements of Soro’s New Forces to break out of the Golf Hotel on Thursday was repulsed by Gbagbo’s security forces after a fierce shootout.

Pro-Ouattara street demonstrations were also suppressed with deadly force.

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