This article was originally published in Al Jazeera.
On July 31, some 200 Tunisians protested in front of the headquarters of the National Constitutional Assembly against a new government programme. Announced just after the state’s welfare system was scuttled, the new law would compensate about 11,000 victims of Ben Ali’s security apparatus with a package worth 750 million Tunisian dinars, or $470m, averaging payouts of $42,000.
Mohammad Sudani is one of the resistance’s veterans targeted by the bill – but he does not want the money.
“We have so many other things to worry about,” 27-year-old Sudani said, pointing to a desperate economy, rampant regional inequality, and continued top-down national leadership. Zine El Abidine Ben Ali’s notorious security forces took him away several times in the middle of the night because of his political views. The perseverance of Sudani and others like him forced the dictator to seek refuge in Saudi Arabia after stoking the flames of discontent lit by Mohamed Bouazizi’s self-immolation. Sudani’s brother was one of the 107 who have followed Bouazizi’s sacrificial example since the revolution.
According to Moncef Marzouki, Tunisia’s current president, the former regime tortured 30,000 people political activists and others who opposed Ben Ali’s rule.
Tunisia’s Finance Minister Hussein Dimassi resigned last week in protest over disagreements with the Ennahdha-led government, including compensation, according to Reuters. Dimassi’s office stated that the programme was partisan and would hand out state funds to mostly Islamist victims of Ben Ali.
“This is just for Ennahda to get votes,” Sudani said. “Using it to help one political party and not Tunisia is theft.”
Read the rest on Al Jazeera.