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ORIGINAL FRENCH ARTICLE: Nul ne peut dire : « Je ne savais pas »

by Jean-Paul Piérot

No One Can Say “I Didn’t Know”

Translated Friday 28 January 2011, by Harvetta and reviewed by Henry Crapo

The official attitude of France is a shame, in the face of the people who want their democratic revolution to succeed.

A government that “underestimated” the discontent of the Tunisian population, claims Alain Juppé, Minister of Defense, a Ministry of Foreign Affairs willing to assist Ben Ali by supplying resources for repression, while tens of protesters have already been killed. A president of the Republic who, in 2008, saw “spaces of freedom expanding” in Tunisia and who, according to the Parisian, would have conceded that while doing “good things,” the deposed president “placed limits” on the freedom of his people. Before such a display of cynicism and stupidity, one is overcome with shame when the Tunisian people are fighting for their freedom, for the success of their revolution, on the other side of the Mediterranean.

Thousands of political prisoners crouching in jails, often submitted to bad treatment, the disappeared whom human rights activists estimate to be several hundreds, the omnipresent police, tracking of those in favor of democracy, arbitrary arrests, and fear knowingly encouraged – that was the Ben Ali regime, regularly “re-elected” never by less than 90% in a quarter of a century.

No one has a right to say “We didn’t know”. In spite of censorship, some voices passed on the message. Looking at L’Humanité’s collection, everyone can see it: the crimes that the large dominant media seem to be discovering and denouncing now were known. It was enough to listen to the testimony of Taoufik Ben Brik, who in 2000 went on a forty-five day hunger strike, to follow the battle of journalist and writer Sihem Bensedrine and to read the report that Moncef Marzouki delivered to the media and public authorities more than ten years ago, in the spring of 2000. This report brings back memories to L’Humanité’s readers, who knew all of these facts at the time. Now, listening to ministers of the French State act like “Oh, my god, so they fooled us?” is nauseating.

The tolerance all governments showed with respect to the Tunisian dictator was too strong, too constant, for one not to talk about complicity. The stupid, gross manner in which Paris reacted to the revolt and the flight of the tyrant reveals the spitefulness of the French administration and its financiers who have done so much business in a dream country, with low-cost wages, over-armed cops, a muzzled press, and gagged trade unions. The ideologue of liberalism, Friedrich Hayek explained the advice he gave to the Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet with this statement: “Personally, I prefer a liberal dictatorship to a democratic government without liberalism.” The high priests of financial capitalism of today think the same way. Tunisia’s grade has been lowered one notch by the grading agency Moody’s due to “economic and political uncertainties since the sudden change of regime.” When business is good with a dictator, the financial markets do not like the sudden eruption of democracy at all.

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