From Unity & Struggle No. 25, Spring/Summer 2013
For decades our people have suffered under a anti-popular and anti-patriotic despotic police regime.
• Politically, by the individual power and domination of the Destour Party, through its different forms (the Neo-Destour, Destourian Socialist Party, the Constitutional and Democratic Concentration), over all forms of political life, by the violation of freedoms and human rights.
• Economically by mortgaging the economy and the country’s wealth for the benefit of the colonial powers and their allies, the local capitalists.
• Socially by the marginalization of the popular strata, by poverty, unemployment and corruption. These evils reached their maximum under Ben Ali, particularly with the intervention of his family, his collaborators and the political and economic mafia in all structures of the State and society.
The Tunisian people, with their patriotic, revolutionary, democratic and social forces, have never ceased to struggle against the dictatorship and oppression since the establishment of the Desturian regime. The Tunisian people have had hundreds of martyrs, thousands of prisoners in heroic combat, of which the main ones are the poor peasants’ movement in the late 1960s; the movement of students and youths in February of 1972; the fight of trade unionists and workers, crowned by the general strike of January 26, 1978; the revolt in the mining region of 2008, and throughout this period other national struggles of solidarity with the Palestinian people, with Iraq, Lebanon and other Arab countries in their struggle against Zionist aggression and the imperialist powers.
These struggles led to the revolution of December 17, 2010 in Sisi Bouzid, which allowed the popular masses to overthrow Ben Ali on January 14, 2011. He was a symbol of despotism, of collaboration with imperialism and of corruption, at the cost of hundreds of martyrs and thousands of wounded in the various regions of the country. During this uprising, the people demanded the end of the despotic, exploiting regime and had sold out to foreign interests, and for its replacement by a regime of freedom, equality and dignity, which would ensure employment and social justice, objectives that they desired during all those years of struggle.
The people managed to topple Ben Ali, as well as his heirs, the two governments of Ghannouchi; they managed through popular struggles and in particular the “sit-ins” in the Kasbah I and II, to obtain results, specifically those concerning civil liberties, the dissolution of the RCD [Constitutional Democratic Union) and of the two chambers of deputies and advisors, the abolition of draconian laws (the law of parties, of associations, of the press, etc.) and the suspension of the constitution of 1959. They contributed to the demand for a constituent assembly to draft a new constitution. However, most of the objectives of the revolution, particularly those relating to the economy, social and patriotic objectives, have not been achieved under the successive governments, including the current government resulting from the elections of October 23, 2011. This has led the people to continue the struggle for social and political change worthy of their ambitions.
From the elections of October 23, there has emerged a constituent assembly dominated by the troika under the direction of the Ennahdha movement. Approximately eight months after the coming to power of this alliance, it is clear that it is leading to a quick burial of the objectives of the revolution of our people and laying the groundwork for a return to a dependent, despotic and corrupt regime, under a religious mantle.
The unity of the Tunisian people is being threatened by contrived doctrinaire struggles, instigated by foreign forces through their local agents who hide behind religion. The freedoms won by the people – at the cost of their blood – are also threatened by the government and the criminal gangs, attributed to certain Salafist currents that act with impunity. The democratic reforms demanded by the revolution in the spheres of information, justice, administration and secondary institutions are being pushed into the background. These are spheres on which the dictatorship rested to repress the people and control society. The government is eluding its obligations to take care of the wounded of the revolution and to bring to justice the murderers as well as those guilty of oppression and corruption; it is trying to attract them as collaborators.
The Ennahdha movement, which dominates and controls the alliance in power, is working with the complicity of its partners in taking over the State institutions and imposing its dictates and establishing a new dictatorship that would liquidate the achievements of the revolution, as well as the historical achievements and the civilization of the Tunisian people in all areas: social, cultural and educational, and particularly those of women.
In the economic sphere, the government is following the politics of Ben Ali that has impoverished the people. The wealth of the country continues to be monopolized by local and foreign minorities. The government continues under the orders of the international financial institutions and continues with the unjust treaties and agreements. The privatization of wealth (mines, oil, etc.) continues, like that of the public institutions, to benefit foreign capital. Nor are they even protecting Tunisian lands ceded to western companies and those of the Persian Gulf, which heralds a new agrarian colonialism at the expense of the poor peasants and the agricultural workers. To all this must be added the government’s incompetence in managing daily affairs, the administrative chaos and bureaucratic hegemony, which threaten to plunge the country into a real cataclysm.
This disastrous politics has serious effects on the lives of the working and popular classes and strata, effects that grow day by day, with unemployment, regional inequality, deterioration of services (water and electricity shortages, accumulation of garbage throughout the country, deterioration of municipal and hygienic services, etc.). These phenomena are inherited from the old regime and were one of the causes of the people’s revolution, but the fact is that in reality they have increased with the present government, which has changed nothing in economic policy and is unable to take urgent measures to limit the adverse effects on the lives of citizens.
The government’s foreign policy continues to be subjected to international capitalist powers. It is clear that they are trying to integrate Tunisia into the Turkey-Persian Gulf Axis under the leadership of the U.S. The objective of this Axis is to liquidate the struggle of the Arab masses, liquidate their hopes for liberation, promote divisions in their ranks and sabotage their unity, in order to ensure U.S., Western and Zionist colonial rule over the region… Our country is going through a real crisis, which it can only get out of with the continuation of the struggle of the Tunisian people, a national, democratic, social, cultural and environmental struggle, to achieve the full realization of the objectives of the revolution and the establishment of the power of the people. This will be possible if an end is put to the disunity of the revolutionary, national, democratic and progressive forces, that of the parties as well as of the associations and organizations of the youth and independent personalities. A common alliance within the popular front represents an alternative for a genuine government that overcomes the false duality that tries to oppose “two poles.” These are actually united to maintain the same economic orientations achieved by the liberal media subjected to the foreign spheres, although one is covered with a “religious” mantle and the other with a “modernist” one. In this way they try to hide the contradiction between the forces that want to achieve the goals of the revolution, and those that are trying to auction it off.
This alternative is based on a political Charter that represents the common denominator in the political and national fields, based on the following principles and values of all the national and popular forces that are firm in the struggle for the realization of the objectives of the revolution for which they work. This Charter is based on the following principles and values:
1. The national and democratic question
Building a republican, civilian and democratic system to serve the people and that:
• Carries out a real independence for the country.
• Is based on the principle of the sovereignty of the people, with election to all institutions of power at the national, regional and local level, with the ability to control them, hold them accountable and even remove them.
• Separation of powers with the necessary balance.
• Ensure the independence of the judiciary according to internationally recognized criteria.
• Ensure the neutrality of the State toward the political parties and forces and their democratic management.
• Ensure civil and individual liberties, particularly freedom of thought, creation and expression, as well as of the press, information and its dissemination; freedom of organization, movement, protest, demonstration and strike, and ensure the material conditions for these.
• Full and effective equality between men and women in all areas, protection of women’s achievements; promotion and consolidation of the Personal Status Code and fight all forms of discrimination and physical and moral violence against women.
• Separation of religion and politics, guarantee freedom of conscience and worship and its practice, combat all forms of political manipulation of religion, of places of worship, of religious, educational and cultural institutions as well as labor and social institutions, and prohibit exploitation for sectarian or partisan ends.
• An independent and national foreign policy, on the basis of support for the national resistance in Palestine, Iraq and Lebanon, as well as support for all movements of national liberation and social emancipation in the Arab homeland and the world; support for the Arab revolutions and the struggle against foreign intervention, criminalization of all forms of normalization of relations with the Zionist entity and racist movements; work for Arab unity based on the principles of freedom, equality, dignity, social democracy and justice .
2. The economic and social problem
To build a national, independent, balanced and consistent economy, which ensures the people’s sovereignty over the wealth of the country, ensures an efficient growth for all regions and rests on a just distribution to meet the people’s basic needs in the material and moral spheres, means the following:
• Revision of agreements detrimental to the interests of the country and its independence.
• Nationalization of strategic sectors and guarantee of their democratic and efficient management.
• Nationalization of confiscated businesses and provision of handing over businesses to foreign capital.
• Promotion of a domestic industry according to the country’s needs, its abilities and capacities.
• Cancellation of the debt based on a thorough study of the loans contracted by the overthrown dictatorship.
• Establishment of a fair and transparent tax system.
• Land reform for the benefit of the poor peasants and small farmers.
• Guarantee of the fundamental rights to dignified work, decent housing, of free, quality public education, and free health care.
• Guarantee of trade union freedom and the right to strike
• Guarantee of the right of all citizens and future generations to a healthy and balanced environment, favorable to health and without waste, struggle against pollution and concentrating efforts on renewable energy.
3. The problem of culture and education
The guarantee of the freedom of creation in all its forms, artistic, cultural, intellectual and scientific, as well as ensuring the adequate frameworks.
• Ensure academic freedom and the promotion of independent scientific research.
• Establishment of a democratic, popular and unified education system.
• Ensure the supremacy of the Arab language, its protection and promotion and ensure its teaching both in official and administrative areas, without opposing the learning of other languages.
• Work to maintain the roots of our people in their national identity formed through a historic process, continuously enriched and developed in a fruitful interrelationship of Arab-Islamic elements of civilization and of the progress of humanity; fight against attempts to erase their national and patriotic identity and against forms of cultural domination, fanaticism and intolerance.
• Disseminate the value of reason, progress, citizenship and human rights.
• Overcome individualism and promote social values and relations and those of solidarity among the people.
The signatories of this document believe that the main objective of the Front is to complete the revolutionary process and establish the power of the people through all possible forms of struggle, including elections. Thus they affirm their willingness to respond positively to the national and popular initiatives in line with the orientations and tasks of the Front.
Tunisia, September 2012