Tunisian Activists to Ben Ali : Enough !
Right now there’s an extraordinary online protest coming out of Tunisia. The website, Yezzi.org, is a collection of photos of Tunisians holding up signs in various languages, each with a message directed to Tunisian President Ben Ali. Though the phrase they use, “Yezzi, Fock !,” may appear to be a misguided attempt to curse out a certain swear word in the English language, it roughly translates to “General Ben Ali, enough is enough !” in Tunisian Arabic. In the words of the protest’s organizers :
This expression in Tunisian dialect intends to transmit a clear message to the dictator in order to give up power, because we consider it is enough. For us Tunisians, who are always banned from freely reaching independent information and who are violently forbidden from any peaceful demonstration ; this kind of demonstration is a new form of peaceful protest.
The site, launched yesterday, contains dozens of photos of Tunisians venting their frustration at President Ben Ali. They note that free expression is technically protected under Tunisian law, though not in practice, so they’re using the website to exercise that right :
[T]here’s no Tunisian legislative provision prohibiting the right to express our opinions. Absolutely not, this demonstration is covered by the fundamental guarantees provided as well by the Tunisian Constitution as by the International Conventions ratified by Tunisia. All the demonstrators on Yezzi.org make use of their right to express an opinion in saying to the General Ben Ali “It is enough !”
The Tunisian authorities, not surprisingly, see the matter differently. They’ve already started blocking the site, so only those of us outside of Tunisia can see it. One can only imagine what might happen to these cyber dissidents if they were caught by the Tunisian police. No matter the response, though, it serves as another reminder of the ackwardness of having the World Summit on the Information Society hosted in Tunisia. –
Andy Carvin is Program Director of the EDC Center for Media & Community in Newton, Massachusetts. Andy serves as coordinator of the Digital Divide Network, an online community of more than 7,000 activists, policymakers, business leaders and researchers in over 115 countries working to find solutions to the digital divide. Andy is also coordinator of EDC’s E-Government for All initiative, which promotes policies and practices to ensure that e-government services are accessible to marginalized populations.