Saturday, January 15, 2011

"we are the not the police, we are the army, we do not shoot our people, we are with the people"

Today at around 2pm I went to downtown Sousse with some friends to see the damage.

The louage (bus) station was on fire. So was the the Tunis train station. I'm not getting out of here anytime soon. Huge pillars of smoke are still rising into the sky.

On the way downtown our cab had to stop. the army and police were both outside the town liquor store arresting looters. The army was arguing with the police and eventually made them leave, then this happened...

I wrote in the last page that, despite what I would have assumed, the Army is LOVED by the average Tunisian and the police are generally hated and feared. Today showed why.

In this video he's basically saying "we are not the police, we do not shoot our own people like the police, we are the army, we need your help but we will defend you" the people cheered and then the army drove away.

The only police that are still working are the elite, political police. They shoot people for the most minor infractions. Today my American friend saw some Tunisians stomping on a picture of the former president and cheering. All of a sudden police came up and began indiscriminately shooting into the crowd. He didn't see anyone die but still.

The army sent young boys around to distribute leaflets today. They said if you want to defend your neighborhood put a white rag around your arm and grab any weapon you can. The people are clearly for the army at this point.

As I write there are mobs of civilians (including, foolishly and implausibly, myself) wearing white armbands on every corner. Someone, almost definitely the former special police/secret service, has been driving around shooting at these groups of people and getting in gunfights with the army.

I'll write more and post pictures later, but people are shooting around my house and I want to check it out...


I should say that the regular cops, the ones who direct traffic and write reports are almost definitely NOT RESPONSIBLE for this stuff. My good friends father is a cop, and both him and his dad are wearing white arm bands at the barricades. The people doing this are the elite/worst.


  1. Keep up the great posts. Freedom loving people all over the world are watching Tunisia breathlessly. In instances where the neccessary breakdown of authority occurs, it is right for citizens to take up collective strength to protect their families and property. The looters are the immoral people who see not a revolution but an oppotunity to steal.They will be problematic until they find every neighborhood protected by citizen groups and, so it would appear, the police. However, it sounds like the police will have their arms full with various army groups attempting to preserve the old regime. It is a highly volatile situation. It goes without saying that you must be very careful. Your blogs, photos, and video are bravely done and invaluable. I will hope for a cease of hostilities and your safety.

  2. I wrote a few words on my blog. Perhaps your friends in Tunisia would enjoy this old standby, just the message for M Ben Ali.

  3. Noah,

    For the love of God, be careful.

  4. Thanks for your updates - it's good to get a feel for what's really happening on the streets.

  5. @ simple fried: The looters aren't really the problem. At this point the looters are going after European Owned businesses who were in bed with the Ben Ali regime or property of the Ben Ali family.

    Looting these places is seen as a good thing by most tunisians (and myself). But you would have to be suicidal to try and loot any mom and pop business in my neighborhood.


    Living in Tunisia, i have grown to HATE dealing with tunisian institutions, however the army is rare and welcome exception.

    The Soldiers,from the generals to the rank and file guys hate the Ben Ali regime and have been really helping the people out. They might try to seize power later, but as of right now they are the best chance Tunisia has.

  6. @marjorie

    my name isn't noah, but i'm keeping my head on a swivel....