Tear gas fired at Tunis protesters
Tunis - Police fired tear gas on Monday to
disperse a rally on a central Tunis avenue where demonstrations are banned.
Hundreds of demonstrators, marking Martyrs'
Day and protesting against the ban imposed on March 28, sought shelter in
neighbouring streets and shops.
Wrapped in Tunisian flags and shouting
"We're not afraid, the people are here", the demonstrators had begun
running up Habib Bourguiba Avenue around 10:00, defying police stationed along
the main thoroughfare with helmets and batons.
"I'm here to honour our martyrs, and to
protest against the ban on demonstrating here. We're the ones who freed
Tunisia, they don't have the right to ban our peaceful marches,"
septuagenarian protester Mohsen Ben Henda told AFP.
Other demonstrators said they were protesting
against governing Islamist party Ennahda.
"We came here today to demand our
freedoms, to denounce the repression that Ennahda militias inflict on us every
day," said Raed Korbi, a young doctor who had taken refuge in a cafe.
Martyrs' Day commemorates the bloody
crackdown by French troops on a protest in Tunis on April 9, 1938.
Tunisia's interior minister banned
demonstrations on Bourguiba Avenue, a symbol of the Tunisian revolution and a
common site for rallies, shortly after Islamist protesters demanding sharia law
last month attacked actors who had gathered for a separate rally for World
Saturday, police forcefully dispersed a
protest by thousands of unemployed graduates who tried to march on the avenue,
wounding about 20, according to organisers.