Update: New Amnesty International statement calling on the Tunisian authorities to rescind permissions to “shoot on sight”.
Several news outlets are confirming that Tunisia’s president Ben Ali has fled the country. Tunisia has seen rising protests in recent weeks, sparked by the suicide of a 26-year-old unemployed graduate on 17 December 2010. Protesters have been demanding jobs and better living conditions and for an end to corruption, but the government’s response has been heavy-handed with police accused of opening fire on and killing and injuring scores of demonstrators.
Earlier today we have called on authorities in Tunisia to release two people arrested in the context of the protests. Hamma Hammami, spokesperson for the banned Tunisian Workers’ Communist Party (Parti Communiste des Ouvriers Tunisiens, PCOT) was arrested at his home in Tunis on 12 January. Around 20 members of the Presidential Security unit are reported to have detained him together with his colleague, Mohamed Mzem, a lawyer, and Mounia Obaid, a friend who was later released.
Please write to the authorities to call on the release of Hamma Hammami and Mohamed Mzem.