About this iReport
  • Approved for CNN

  • Click to view meriembsalah's profile
    Posted January 17, 2011 by
    Berkeley, California
    This iReport is part of an assignment:
    Turmoil in Tunisia

    My personal Tunisian story under Ben Ali's dictatorship and today


    CNN PRODUCER NOTE     meriembsalah was born and raised in Tunisia but came to the United States when she graduated from high school to pursue higher education. She’s a PhD student at Berkeley and has been watching the revolution from afar. 'I am proud to say I am a Tunisian. Believe me, all Tunisians were ashamed to admit they are Tunisians. We are educated and good people, but we were very passive,' she said.
    - zdan, CNN iReport producer

    First, the picture - and I appear in this picture- attached has been taken by Fathi Zabaar during the protest in San Francisco by over 100 tunisians on Jan. 15th.
    My name is Meriem Ben Salah. I am 27 years old. A Tunisian citizen who has lived under the dictator regime for 18 years, and did seek for education abroad since the age of 18 in Europe and the US. I left Tunisia because I am not the daughter of a minister or of Ben Ali's family. No matter how talented I am , I would not have been able to pursue a higher education or to get a financial support from the goverment or to get a good job, because I am not again the daughter of a minister. This was the destiny of many Tunisians over the past decades. When I was in Tunisia, we had to applaud whenever and wherever we heard the name Ben Ali. We can't oppose and we talk with eyes, me and my friends. We are afraid that someone between us could be reporting for him, despite the naivety of youth.
    I have been following the news since the day when Mohamed Bouzizi has burned himself as a protest to the corrupted system in Tunisian and to unemployment. My family (my parents and my extended family) are in Tunisia, living in the middle of the revolution, shootings by the ex-president's regime, lack of food, and fear.
    I am talking to my friends who are in Tunisia, exchanging videos and pictures of what is happening. Many of my neighbors were shot dead. My guy friends are not sleeping over night to protect their streets, while moms are preparing food.
    Ben Ali's regime I would describe as a plant. The head of the plant has escaped but the roots are so wide and deep in the Tunisian system. For all Tunisians, we want the entire plant to be pulled out, and not only the head. The president escaped without any pre-announcement. We are anyways happy that he escaped. We thought this is the end. But it is a big plan happening that does not need the presence of Ben Ali. The Tunisian media is still controlled by Ben Ali's regime. In fact, Ben Ali has cloned himself over the past 23 years. The military is trying to arrest them but they seem to be everywhere. They are giving fake news over radio and tv. They are faking the reaction of the people. They are faking the criminals' identity. Yesterday, they were accusing innocent swedish tourists for looting and killing. All Tunisians knew immediately that this is another theatre piece made by Ben Ali's clones. We feel very sorry for what happened to them.
    I call my parents 3 to 4 times a day to check on them. They are locked at home until yesterday. They have only the basics of food. All grocery stores are closed. There is no access to food and medications. My neighbors are protecting the streets helping the army against the Tunisian police who is supporting Ben Ali's party. Tunisians are feeding the army, making hunderds of sandwiches, so Army can resist to the big plan of Ben Ali.
    Today, Ghannouchi will created the governmental union, where he gave most and most important positions to the ben ali's regime people.  Ghannouchi has been in contact with Ben Ali since he escaped. He admitted this himself on France 24, a french news channle. Ghannouchi and Ben Ali's party do not want to leave, for sure. As we saw today, that protesters were bombed by tear gas and cannon water while they were peacefully protesting.
    Until now, promises have been spoken. Names have changed, such as the tv name. But, honestly, if the old regime is not cleaned from the root, no good is going to happen.
    Luckily, Tunisians are not stupid people. We are a high number of educated people with university degrees and with a very open mind and a strong awareness. We will not let this game happen. The system has to be cleaned from the root. The ex regime should not contribute anymore. We will stand for it.
    I am calling the international community to support Tunisians. It is not about Wikileaks or about the US, it is about Tunisians who are making the revolution.
    All Tunisians should be represented from left to right. And the majority will be with a great confidence represented by a democratic liberal party. Please believe that Tunisians are self-conscientious people. They are not able to burn or kill or injure. Tunisians are together for peace and for freedom. But Ben Ali's regime does not want Tunisians to win their country. They are destroying it instead, and then ultimately leaving.
    Definitely, I am very happy for what has been achieved so far, and I hope that everyone will remember why this protest has started; namely to kill the ex-president's regime. I participated at the SF protest against human right violations, where over 100 Tunisians participated.
    I want to attach few videos taken by my friends and friends' friends in Tunisia:
    How tunisian tv is faking the news: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IDWr2siA3rs:
    A guy who has been arrested by the tunisian tv was
    taped and shown as a criminal, whereas after he is back to his town explaining that he was just going to get
    bread, and has been mistakenly arrested by the tv.
    http://www.mayfootekchay.com/may-television/viewvideo/2958/facebook/maison-belhsen-trabelsi.html: this video is showing that the presidential family was decorating their houses with tunisian ruins and monuments for which they had arrested other people and did put them in jail.
    http://www.facebook.com/video/video.php?v=134053019992031&oid=115841661797340&comments: this video shows how tunisians are helping the army by making them sandwiches so they can protect them, whereas the government accuses Tunisians of destroying their country instead.
    a video of people rebelling the dictatorship after ben ali's departure. imagine his pictures were everywhere, even at places you can not imagine.
    Add your Story Add your Story