Tunisia has been in the news lately for the wide spread protests. There is an important side of all of this that isn’t being covered by the media and at ILRF we think it’s necessary to look at moments like this with a critical eye towards the impact of labor.
Photo to the right is anti-government demonstrations during the 2010–2011 Tunisian uprising. Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Caravane_de_la_lib%C3%A9ration_4.jpg
The recent instability across North Africa started with a street vendor named Mohamed Bouaziz. Bouaziz was a street vendor who was constantly harassed by local police officers. On December 17th, 2010, Bouaziz was beaten and spat upon by a female police officer. Frustrated with the way he was treated, Bouaziz went to the local government office to file a formal complaint. The government refused to grant him an audience. Therefore he threatened the government that he would burn himself to death if they did not listen. Unfortunately, the government did not take him seriously enough, Bouaziz doused himself with gasoline and set himself on fire. Ultimately according to Bouaziz’s sister, Bouaziz killed himself not because of the poverty but because the humiliation he suffered day in and out.