Arrests Grow as Tunisian Army Cracks Down on Protesters

The United Nations human rights office says it is concerned about the large number of arrests as Tunisian authorities crack down on protesters demonstrating against price and tax.

The protests, which began last weekend, reportedly are turning more violent, prompting a sharp rise in the number of arrests. Nearly 800 people have been arrested since Monday, about 200 between the ages of 15 and 20, according to U.N. human rights spokesman Rupert Colville.

“We call on the authorities to ensure that people are not arrested in an arbitrary manner, and that all those detained are treated with full respect for their due process rights and either charged or promptly released,” Colville said. “The authorities must ensure that those exercising their rights to peaceful expression and assembly are not prevented from doing so.”

Colville says his office has no reports that those arrested are being ill-treated.

“But, it is something we look out for because there have been reports in the recent past in other situations of ill-treatment of people in detention,” he added. “So, it is something we would look out for very closely. At this point, we have not had any specific reports.”

Sunday is the anniversary of the 2011 revolution, which ushered in the so-called Arab Spring — a series of protest movements calling for reform in the Middle East and North Africa.

The Tunisian protesters say none of the objectives of the revolt have been achieved. As concern rises that events this weekend might get out of control, Colville says it is particularly important to ensure demonstrators are able to protest peacefully.

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