Sunday, February 6, 2011

Live From Tunisia: Hind Houas: Jasmine Revolt: La Revolution




Five days prior to the release of this interview, 
if Hind Houas has spoken to me, she would have been killed.




 © Hind Houas


Think Twice Radio Promo for Interview

Hind Houas, a 22 year old university student, part of the first revolution, The Jasmine Revolt, sparked nations to overthrow authoritarian regimes.  Tunisia is the northernmost part of Africa, bordered by Algeria and Libya, by the Mediterranean Sea. Tunisia is home to Carthage,  the Roman province of Africa, later by Byzantines then Arabs, then to the French under The Ottoman Empire. In 1956, Habib Bourguiba became 1st President of Tunisia.  Hind resides in Tataouine, the Southern Part of Tunisia.  




 © Hind Houas

From 1987 to 2011, The Kingdom of Tunisia operated as a republic under the authoritarian regime of President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali.  For all of her life, Hind has never experienced basic human rights. In Tunisia, under Ben Ali, if one were to speak, report as media or search online independently; they were interrogated, beaten, tortured, sexually abused, and often killed. 



Part One of the interview below:



 


Hind and I speak of life in Tunisia under Bourguiba, history of politics, and a typical day in the life of the Tunisian people before and after Habib.  




Hind stated, "Habib Bourguiba was a very decent and respectful man.  He was the first Tunisian president after we got independent from France in 1956. He was the man who made education free from fees for all boys and girls with no discrimination. He helped improve the condition of Tunisian women by guaranteeing her many advantages in almost all the fields. We all love him so much. He also tried his best to make sure that our Tunisian Army will always be independent from what happens in the political arena.  Bourguiba made sure that the main role of the Army is to protect the people, and thanks to the Tunisian Army, we managed to stay safe after Ben Ali's fleeing to Saudi Arabia." 






© Haythem Hawass


The horror that occurred when Ben Ali became President in 1987 is indescribable.  The Tunisian people have led a life for 23 years dominated by severe oppression.  Imagine not being able to speak your mind, to search the internet, to talk about politics, humanity, human rights, to have any extra curricular activity, or an opinion.  Imagine waking, eating, attending school or work, if available, coming home, studying, eating then going to sleep. That has been a typical day for all Tunisians under the regime of Ben Ali.  For all of Hinds existence, she has only known this life.  A bleak monotonous oppressive fear filled existence. 






 © Haythem Hawass


Part Two of the interview below:


 


Hind speaks of  the the absolute non existence of all human rights. Under Ben Ali, they did not exist except for those who knew Ben Ali or were his friends. Hind speaks in depth of the true defining moment where the revolution began, how Tunisians were treated, what they experienced and how she has found a rebirth by simply being able to exist, finally, as a human being. 




   
© Haythem Hawass


Through Hind, we learn how mentally challenging it has been to retain sanity in a bleak existence while holding onto an optimistic attitude for change. 




  © Haythem Hawass



The Jasmine Revolution, beginning with peaceful protests in 2010, eventually led to the extreme revolt and horrific experiences that successfully removed in January of 2011, Ben Ali and his regime. 



  
  © Haythem Hawass


Amnesty International, Freedom House and Protection International have documented "that basic human and political rights are not respected.  President Ben Ali's speeches were full of references to the importance of democracy and freedom of speech that cut all Tunisians from the rest of the world." 



 
  © Haythem Hawass


Amnesty also reports: "the Tunisian government is misleading the world as it conveys a positive image of the human rights situation in the country while abuses by its security forces continue unabated and are committed with impunity".  In January 2010, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton mentioned Tunisia and China as the two countries with the greatest internet censorship. 



 
  © Haythem Hawass


According to the Committee To Protect Journalists,  "97% of newspaper campaign coverage was devoted to President Ben Ali amid severe restrictions on independent reporting.  Ben Ali’s government went after the country’s journalist union, bringing down its democratically elected board, while his police bullied and harassed critical reporters. Two journalists, one of them a leading critic of the president, were in jail later in the year.  State owned 'Publinet' internet network monitored and filtered all internet traffic. 




  © Haythem Hawass


When demonstrations began in Tunisia in Dec 2010, they constituted the most dramatic wave of social and political unrest in Tunisia in three decades. The brave story of Mohamed Bouazizi and self immolation, sparked the people to finally take a stand. Ben Ali declared a state of emergency in the country. The revolt began.  



 
  © Haythem Hawass


Through these rare interviews, the real story of a global revolution sparked by the Tunisian people tired of living under the greatest abomination of all human rights is told.  On January 14, 2011, new legislative elections were promised within six months. President Ben Ali has indeed fled, and on January 26 2011, INTERPOL confirmed that its National Central Bureau (NCB) has issued a global alert via INTERPOL's international network to seek the location and arrest of former Tunisian President Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali and six of his relatives.




  © Haythem Hawass



The Tunisian Revolution, started by the Tunisian people, sparked a global wave of revolutions across this world including yet not limited to: Yemen, Algeria, Jordan, Syria, Macedonia and now Egypt.  Tunisians are a brave people with immense courage that it humbles me to have met Hind.  The strength of one nation teaches us to never allow oppression, to exercise correctly the rights we do have, to respect such rights and those of others, and to be grateful for existing in a world where we are at least able to voice an opinion. 






  © Haythem Hawass

Hind is a strong young woman. At 22 years old, she has taught me the true definitions of strength and courage. For the first time in 23 years, the Tunisian people are now free.  



   
© Haythem Hawass



To Hind, my humble gratitude to a fellow human being, sister and lifelong friend, one nation and all oppressed people of this world, I thank you.  May the rest of humanity follow in your footsteps. 

Upon writing this, Hind sent me a message. 

"I listened to the whole interview twice. God, it was so moving for me to listen to it. Though skype was not so clear for us, but I liked it. What matters is that my people's story and mine too, is told as it is  About that, I wrote a poem and if you are interested I can send it to you to read it . So, I'm happy cause I did something I wanted to do since so long, *smile*

Writing about Tunisia would be great cause that would help bring tourists to Tunisia to revive the economy which we really are going to need in future days. By the way, I would love to invite you here one day to Tataouine. That would be great *smile* If ever you need anything about Tunisia, just let me know and I'll do my best to help you."

- Hind Houas, 2011 


Peace,


Sue 


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