In Tunisia, Calls for Settling of Old Scores
Tunis. Tunisia opened on Saturday a national conference calling for justice for the victims of the Ben Ali regime, with its leaders saying that scores must be settled for reconciliation to begin.
“The wounds of the past must be cured and healed,” President Moncef Marzouki said at a meeting attended by UN representatives. “Tunisians are expecting tangible results. They cannot wait indefinitely.
“We have faith in transitional justice and not in a vengeful justice. But a justice that forgets to settle the score is not one.”
Marzouki is a former opposition leader forced to live in exile in France for a decade. He only returned to his home country after Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali was toppled in January 2011 by an unprecedented popular uprising that sparked the Arab Spring.
The president of the Constituent Assembly, Mustapha Ben Jaafar, echoed Marzouki’s call, saying that “it is possible to forgive. But the scores must be settled.”
Prime Minister Hamadi Jebali, who spent 15 years in jail, meanwhile, called on the nation not to forget the suffering of Islamist opposition members.
“National memory must include all the sacrifices that they have made” for the country, Jebali said.
Ben Ali and several members of his family who fled have been sentenced in absentia to decades in prison. But 15 months after the revolution, trials against officials responsible for the oppression by the regime have been delayed, and requests for extraditions have failed.
Kerim Abdessalem, who was imprisoned from 1990 to 2004, pointed out that most of his torturers remain in the police force.
“For peace of mind, I need to know the truth, to know why I was tortured,” said Abdessalem, who is from an association called Justice and Rehabilitation.