a tunisian wounded in the arab spring sets fire to himself hefiane

A Tunisian wounded in the Arab Spring sets fire to himself

After the government failed to compensate a young man injured in Tunisia’s 2011 revolution, he burned himself alive. The self-immolation of 26-year-old Neji Hefiane harkens back to the death of Mohamed Bouazizi, a street vendor whose suicide by fire on December 17, 2010, sparked the Tunisian revolution, eventually toppling President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali and ushering in the Arab Spring across the region.

Hefiane died on Saturday in a hospital on the outskirts of Tunis, according to his father, after setting himself on fire in front of his family. “It was injustice and marginalization that drove my son to commit suicide,” Bechir Hefiane said. Between December 2010 and January 2011, Neji lived in Intilaka, a working-class Tunisian neighborhood where violent anti-regime protests erupted.

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He was 16 years old at the time and had gunshot wounds to the head. His sister Zohra said he had received no help from the authorities since then, despite the fact that he was on an official list of revolution victims. “My brother didn’t get anything he was entitled to,” she explained, “neither free healthcare nor a job guarantee.” “He inquired everywhere but received no response, including from the president,” she continued.

Bechir, Neji’s father, wrote to President Kais Saied, explaining his son’s situation and requesting that he intervene on their behalf. “Even after my son’s death, we have received no response,” he said. More revolution “martyrs and wounded” are “threatening to kill themselves,” according to lawyer Lamia Farhani, president of the Aoufiaa (Faithful) association set up to help the uprising’s “martyrs and wounded.” “There is no political will” to protect the victims’ “basic rights,” she added.

“The state, as well as all the governments that have come and gone since 2011, are to blame for this people’s despair and disgust,” Farhani said.