"Let Us Make the Awakening of the Movement our Central Task"*
11th Anniversary of the Communist Party of the Workers of Tunisia
The comrades of the Communist Party of the Workers of Tunisia have just celebrated the 11th anniversary of their Party. In the text "Let Us Make the Awakening of the Movement our Central Task" which we reproduce below, they take stock of the present situation of the social and revolutionary movement. Although the press in France rarely speaks of it, the repression against the members of their Party continues. Thus comrade Abdel Momen Bel Aanes, who was arrested last summer, then released, was arrested again by an appeals court at Monastir for an "offence against the President." To protest against this latest abuse of power, he began a 20 day hunger strike. On April 1st, he was acquitted by the court in another case that was pending.
If the communists are paying the heaviest toll of the repression, it does not spare those who dare to express any disagreement whatsoever with the policies of the regime. Many leaders of the main legal opposition party, the MDS (Movement of Socialist Democrats), have come to have a bitter experience. After the condemnation of their president in 1996 for "collusion with a foreign State" (Libya), the power has not stopped bringing back this party on to the right path. This is now a done deed. A forceful blow has been organized by one of the leaders of a tendency in favor of collaboration with the regime: at an extraordinary congress, convoked hastily and held under high police protection and in the absence of a good part of the national council of this party, the former leadership was deposed, and only the author of the putsch and one of his close collaborators regained their posts.
This has not stopped Ben Ali from being received in the European capitals. After Germany, several months ago, the French government has given him an official welcome from May 4 to 6. Together with the Tunisian democrats, we denounce this visit of the dictator Ben Ali.
Eleven years have passed since the foundation of our party, the Communist Party of the Workers of Tunisia. It is evident that this anniversary constitutes an occasion to take advantage of the experience of the past and continue the work of the party to achieve new gains on the road of overall revolutionary change in our society.
It is useful to evoke the conditions in order to link the past with the present. It is in these conditions that our party was founded and declared itself on January 3, 1986. The Bourgiba dictatorship was living through a suffocating crisis at all levels: economic, social and political. To confront this crisis, it could only resort to savage repression to put down everyone: political forces, professional, humanitarian, cultural and press associations. Thus the foundation of our party at that time constituted an important event, not only because it responded to the need of the working class and the people in general, the need for an organized and effective vanguard, but because our party knew what program it needed to propose and what tactics it needed to elaborate to confront this rotten situation. This permitted it to shine forth very strongly and to expand its influence. It was able to attract into its ranks a large number of vanguard elements from all sectors. Naturally this was not without many sacrifices, of which the most notable is the martyrdom of our comrade Nabil Barakati, who held up under torture to his death. At that period (May, 1987), B. Ali was Minister of the Interior. Dozens of members were also locked up in the fascist prisons after unjust trials. Finally, under the protection of imperialism, the reactionaries were obliged to dismiss Bourgiba by the coup d'etat of November 7, 1987, in order to save the regime and their interests, all in giving the illusion that they were going to satisfy the demands of the people regarding freedom and dignity.
Today our party is celebrating its 11th anniversary and the country is passing through an exceptional situation. In effect, the fascism of the November coup, the heir of the tyrannical Bourgiba regime, has continued the oppression of the people. It has imposed its dominance in all spheres, public and private. It has muzzled all free activity which is independent of or opposed to it. It has shut down the press. It has made torture a method of government. The country has become a large prison watched over by torturers and a crowd of informers of all kinds. This is the means of subjecting all the people to a ferocious exploitation under a capitalism in which the law of the strongest rules, a capitalism which profits only a handful of the rich, the foreign owners and the international financial institutions.
As before, such an exceptional situation imposes on our party equally exceptional obligations. It is true that the present situation is harsher than previously given the ebb through which the popular movement is passing. Political activity has receded, as well as that of the professional, humanitarian and cultural associations and organizations, due to the repressive policies which engender stagnation, resignation, despair and fear. But all these factors can only increase the responsibility of our party and its members.
Presently the crucial tactic is that which our party has defined in its document regarding "the general situation in the country and the tasks of this stage." This tactic relies on the necessity of awakening the popular movement of the masses of different sectors around their most urgent social, political and cultural demands. Any observation of the situation in our country can only affirm that the conditions are suitable to realize this central task, given the problems and contradictions which confront the November fascism and the internal and external isolation which places it in a position of weakness faced with every broad and deep militant movement.
If our party assumes this responsibility together with the democratic and progressive forces who refuse to collaborate with fascism, this will constitute a fundamental guarantee that the scenario of November 7, 1987, will not be repeated again. Our people will thus be finally freed from fascism. They will realize their ambitions of freedom and dignity. They will create suitable conditions to assure their self-determination. Our party, as well as all the democratic forces, are called upon to serve as an example in the anti-fascist struggle. They must address themselves to the people with clear and mobilizing slogans and proposals. We believe that our party, at its 11th anniversary, has the ideological, political and organizational force that will permit it to assume its responsibilities with a higher degree of experience, all the more since it has purged its ranks in the last years of opportunism which tried to change its revolutionary nature and to draw it into normal relations with the dictatorship. Our party is more determined than ever to struggle against all its weaknesses and to achieve, together with its members and its youth organization (UJCT [Union of Communist Youth of Tunisia]) a higher degree of organization, struggle and determination. Let us make this anniversary a starting point for a decisive stage in the struggle against fascism, basing ourselves on the militant legacy of our people and on the international support of our communist comrades and of the progressive and freedom-loving forces of the whole world.
Long live the Communist Party of the Workers of Tunisia!
This old document lays out the ideological views of the Tunisian Workers' Communist Party, currently in the center of the Revolutionary Movement that removed Ben Ali.