Tunisian victims of abuse to speak on TV

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Tunisians who suffered abuse under decades of authoritarian rule are to air their grievances live on TV.

Thursday night’s event, run by the country’s Truth and Dignity Commission, aims to ease tensions arising from past abuses.

More than 62,000 incidents, including torture and rape, have been filed to the commission since 2013.

Tunisia became a democracy after president Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali was ousted in 2011.

The commission is investigating reports of police torture, corruption and murder over a 50 year period since independence.

Alleged abusers include Tunisia’s previous state authorities and top security bosses.

A quarter of alleged victims are women who have complained about sexual violence, formerly a taboo in Tunisia.

Commission member Khaled Krichi told reporters: “We will participate in unveiling the truth about these violations… in order to turn a page and move directly on to national reconciliation.”

But Antonio Manganella, of the US-based group Lawyers Without Borders, said the commission faced challenges. “There is still a lot of reluctance from some state institutions to co-operate with the IVD [Truth and Dignity Commission],” he said.

The BBC’s Rana Jawad in Tunis says victims of abuse will each have up to one hour to tell their stories to a panel of commissioners, and an audience including representatives of civic groups and international observers.

The commission hopes that victims will forgive their alleged abusers. But many victims who have spoken to the BBC have demanded financial compensation and say the accused should be held accountable in court.

The Truth and Dignity Commission says alleged abusers might also have a chance to give public testimonies in the near future. Two additional TV hearings are scheduled in December and January.

Tunisia’s uprising was the first of the 2011 Arab Spring, and often hailed as the most successful with the country now functioning as a parliamentary democracy. But across the country many struggle to find work amid a high unemployment rate.

 

Source: BBC