Cherif Hraif




This union is the “Union of Unemployed Graduates”. It is a unionization that is concerned with defending university graduates and anyone who owns a vocational diploma or a university diploma. The idea of its founding came on the 25th of May, exactly, on the 25th of May in 2006, when a group of young people, university graduates, became… in fact, they had been corporately active in the “General Union of Students of Tunisia”. They were experienced in organizing and comprehending the deeper meaning of the concept of organization. They have quickly understood that the number of university graduates has been increasing yearly, meaning that the thousands of university students are still increasing. Unemployment has reached a tragically high level, and the number of university graduates has increased from a few thousands to more than a 150 000. This alone was enough for the basis for action. It represented a good reason why this faction needed to create a framework that defends and protects them, speaks on behalf of the surveillance state and guides struggles that have been set in motion in all available and possible forms. Of course, we cannot speak about the movements of university graduates without a certain political, economic and social context. The university graduates are in the shadow of a climate that is marked by exclusion, the spread of favoritism and corruption. The state is one of the most supercilious dictatorships in the world. It crushes liberties and it crushes all forms of expression. It dispossesses the social classes of the Tunisian people, most of its classes, of the participation in public affairs and of enjoying the resources of their country. This is why university graduates, most of whom were of poor origins and from interior regions, did not have the possibility to be pleased about the outcome of their work which is research after having attained professorship. It was more reasonable and suitable for them to get work because it was good and possible, but the politics of repulsing this social class and the politics of exclusion was the descent of Ben Ali’ s regime and its accusation. This is why thousands and thousands find themselves exposed to anguish, exposed to crime, exposed to prostitution, exposed to political, financial and moral haggling with intensity of its varieties. This is why we started to speak about social and economic conditions that are humiliating for mankind. This means that thousands and thousands are financially supported by their families and by funds of the national budget, and at the end, we find them exposed to the streets. Meaning that they are brought to the streets and they are of no benefit for this country.

The other idea behind the foundation is that we think that just like the state abdicated its whole responsibility for health, development and education, it apparently abandoned our duty or our right to work. We think the state is responsible for providing work, because since the attempt of what is called structural reform, the state withdrew from these social issues that intensified the crisis of the Tunisian society and the destruction of the Tunisian economy.

One of this program’s pillars was that the fate of the Tunisian people was left to economic and capitalist brokerage. Of course, this economic oppression was supported by politics. What does that mean? That means, just like they oppressed the Tunisian people and denied it the resources of the country, they also denied it the frameworks it is defended by. This is why, whenever we submitted our right to a visa or our right to a legal struggle for the sake of defending this social class, our only dialog partner was the ministry of the interior. And the political security apparatus, the political police was the only dialog partner when we went to protest in front of the ministries, in front of employment offices, even in the streets the only dialog partner was the political police. For a period of many years we have not succeeded in meeting those who we regard as responsible for the solution of this problem. Anyway, we submitted our right to a fair struggle and a legal visa, but of course, in situations like this, in the absence of dialog, in the absence of discussion with our administrators, we struggled with all available and unavailable methods. This means, we made parades, we made protests, we made general assemblies, we made sit-ins, in front of employment offices and in front of ministries. Of course, one must not make mistakes. We were not many. We were only a few tens… a small number of unemployed people who provoked this instrument of oppression. It was not possible that in situations like this… of course, if I say that the issue of awareness is not a legitimate issue, I also say that it was not possible that university graduates became aware of their problem and became aware of the reason for their problem, and this is why we have waited for many years… for four, five years until thousands and thousands of university graduates joined us. Of course, after the 14th of January the situation has changed.




In fact, you can say that not only the recent events of Sidi Bouzid, but also the issue of employment was the initial spark of the people’s movements as much as it was their intensification in the mining basin, in Bin Guerden, in Jbiniana and in several regions where employment and the struggle for the sake of work were the initial spark behind the outbreak of these movements. But it is not only this, not only work, in general, because there also had exist a feeling of injustice, a feeling of exclusion, a feeling that not all people have the same chances, they are not equal or in the same social classes concerning their right to employment. This means, who was not corrupt, who did not favor corruption and who did not give… who was not an advocate of Ben Ali’ s regime, was disadvantaged and deprived of his right to work.

Our contribution did not start today, did not start after the 14th of January. Among us, the unemployed people, were the prisoners of the mining basin. So with us were our friends and members of this union. All people know that Hsan Bin Abdallah was sentenced to four… more than four years of imprisonment in a trial that is known as the “mining basin” trial. Therefore, arrests were something like the daily bread for the university graduates.

A very significant thing is that the “Union of University Graduates”, the few who remained, the few that preserved their adherence to this frame, were less than ten. So the number was small. But a few hours after the self-immolation of Muhammad Bouazizi, this group was possibly the first group that tried to protest in the center of the capital, possibly even before the residents of Sidi Bouzid went out, showed up and protested, and before it was as it was. A few hours after Muhammad Bouazizi had set himself on fire, we tried to go to the labor union on the Muhammad Ali square and protested. A lot of policemen from the political police came, blocked our way and seized us by the neck. Of course, this can be referred to as the initial spark.

During the movements that took place, since the 17th of December until the end of this period that came to an end yesterday or the day before yesterday…but let us speak about the aims of the revolution. The “Union of University Graduates” did not await the big detente that came after the 14th of January to go out in the streets. Our colleagues and our companions in this association were leaders of the movements that took place on the level of the whole country… in Jarjis, in Madnin, in Jbiniana, in Jendouba, in Siliana. This means, the people who were with us, the planners of this union, were leading the movements, of course, alongside trade unionists, lawyers, students and marginalized people.

In fact, the spine or the spearhead of the revolution’s incitement was probably the right to work. Therefore, the unemployed and the marginalized people were its spearhead.

But the impetus of the revolution, those who participated in it and its leaders, the frames and the forms of organizing that were chosen and the strength of the movements and of what came after the movements make one thing clear, which is, deduced from its participants, that all the people from Tunisia participated in this revolution. There is no social class that did not participate, intellectuals, great artists, students, young or middle-aged people, salesmen, farmers, craftsmen and so on… academics, trade unionists, lawyers, gentlemen, young people and pupils. This means that this revolution did not only have one leader. It had leaders and indicated that the people of Tunisia was excluded from the participation in public life and the Tunisian people were suffering injustice, wrong, exclusion and oppression. This is why it [the revolution] has a certain character, which is, that it is not the property of one social class. It is the property… in other words it is the revolution of the Tunisian people.

Actually, the activists of our association have tried and have been successful in breaking the barrier of the confined frames, in other words, of the government, and even of traditional regulations. Of course, most of them, I do not say all, but most of them wanted to put the forms of protest in confined frames… inside parlors, on squares which, of course, were encircled by the political police. The unemployed people and the marginalized people….of course, the unemployed people with all their kinds were those who brought the protests from these confined frames out into the street and to the popular districts. Those who participated among the contributors tried to give them [the protests] their popular stamp. So they are not a battle of the elite and they are not a battle of a small social class. They are a battle of the Tunisian people, and their venue, the venue of the progress of elaboration, was located on the level of the Tunisian people, with its popular districts, with its inner cities and with its squares and streets.




The “Union of University Graduates” defends the issue of employment. In fact, you can understand this issue only within the context of a general frame. The “Union of University Graduates” is an organization, a national association, that is concerned with public affairs, which means that the issue of employment is not separated from the political, economic, social, educational and cultural issue, for example. So the “Union of University Graduates” finds itself alongside…. it struggles alongside all progressive forces for the sake of protecting the revolution, so that this revolution achieves its aims and puts an end to injustice, puts an end to wrong, puts and end to…opens new doors in order that the Tunisian people enjoys its freedom, enjoys the resources of its country and lives in the shadow of a national, popular system that defends its aspirations and its independence. This is why, currently, the central task of the “Union of University Graduates” is…in other words, first of all, it moves forward in two directions. The first direction is the mobilization of unemployed people and putting them within a frame. Until now, we have succeeded in almost more than 120 regional frameworks or rather branches which are subordinate to this association with the same vision, the same perception, the same enthusiasm, and which insist on their right to have an organization that defends them. Of course, it is not the impulse of this association.

The second thing is that the “Union of University Graduates” is an organization that is active alongside all forces that struggle against all maneuvers and all conspiracies that are hatched against their revolution. We have a reading which we share with a lot of democratic, progressive and revolutionary forces in Tunisia that this government is not a government of the Tunisian people. This government consists of remnants of the former regime. This government is passing through a process of circumvention, it follows a course that circumvents the revolution. And for us the events and the signs indicate that this revolution was betrayed. It was a fact. I wanted to give the position of the common frameworks, those who struggle for the “Union of University Graduates” in all regions are our members who associate themselves with the frameworks and forms of organizing that were emitted by the streets in Tunisia. This means, they are active members in local and regional assemblies and committees for the protection of the revolution. We were invited within the scope of the national administration to take part in what is called the “Supreme Commission for the Accomplishment of the Revolution”. This supreme commission was formed by the government. But we had a clear point of view that this commission, regarding its structure, the form… the way of its creation, its components and its methods, aims and responsibilities, is a governmental commission, a commission of the remnants of the former system, a commission that circumvents the revolution. This is why we refused to join this commission like, as I have said, a lot of forces did. Of course, through the discussion with our members and the activation of regional and local channels they invited us to be like we had known the street and how we had recognized the street before, how we had protested in very difficult times, in times of the dictatorship… in other words, we went down to the street and we protested despite humble possibilities, at least with human power, but now we make all efforts for the sake of preserving the revolution and for the sake of bringing this revolution to safety. We as members of the “Union of University Graduates”” are hopeful that the issue of employment is not determined by destiny and fate. The issue of employment or rather unemployment is not determined by destiny and fate, but connected to economic, social and political choices. Hence, we will be alongside and ally with all the forces that will struggle on the front and for the next electoral stages and for what is called the constituent assembly for the sake of evolving a new constitution for the country that protects all social classes of the Tunisian people from all manifestations of wrong, injustice and constraint. This is why we will be alongside forces that were at the Tunisian people’s side and will struggle for the sake of the emergence of an economic, political and social project that is advantageous for the Tunisian people.

Therefore, we will defend developmental models independently of one another. We are convinced that the components that rushed to the government, the several components, include trade union bureaucracy. Of course, all together, we record the horizons of employment in order to know about organizations that are temporarily available in our country today. In fact, not everyone who rode the hawks of the revolution is necessarily a revolutionist. Not everyone who claims to be a revolutionist is necessarily a revolutionist. This means that today the idea which they want to sell to the Tunisian people is that Beji Caid is-Sebsi defends the revolution, that Mbazza defends the revolution and that a number of the trade union bureaucracy defends the revolution. This is a fallacy, this is a lie and this is an obvious assault on the blood of the Tunisian people. We have the experience and the confidence that those who struggled against dictatorship yesterday are a real guarantee for the Tunisian people to establish its dignity and its splendid future.

We will not be misled by this grim struggle and these stages during which these forces have emerged. We think that this revolution, which has covered half its distance, will not achieve its aims later. This impulse in society does not seem to have changed the political structure in a proper way, but it has created a variety of contradictions. There are components that claimed to be at the Tunisian people’s side not long ago. Today we find them in one trench with the remnants of the former regime. And just like these components that were oppressing the Tunisian people and hostile to the revolution not long ago, it was not in their economic and class interest to make a revolution that is advantageous for the Tunisian people. Today we find that those forces that used to be the long arm of Ben Ali’ s regime yesterday in terms of expanding its authoritativeness, oppressing, wasting the Tunisian people’s resources and impoverishing the Tunisian people, claim that they have participated in the revolution, and the strangest rumor I have heard is that Seriati claims, “I was alongside the revolution”. Seriati, this killer, is putting out reports through his lawyer and saying, “I was for the revolution. Ben Ali was against the revolution, but I was for the revolution.” In fact, these paradoxes are not considered as an international issue, but who knows who is with the Tunisian people and who is against the Tunisian people, knows that the bourgeoisie has never been with the Tunisian people. The big capitalists who have the media at their disposal now in order to comment on and speak about nationalism and balanced development have never been with the Tunisian people. Not long ago, for a period of more than twenty years, the ministers of Ben Ali have never been with the Tunisian people. This is just a false claim. Therefore, we are convinced that the issue of employment needs an authentic popular and democratic climate, an authentic national economy and authentic social justice that are able to, I do not say put an end to unemployment, but reduce this phenomenon and this disastrous tragedy.

Let me explain it to you and write this description down, please. We will participate in the constituent assembly, introduce our candidates and we will establish our independent alliances with whoever is seen explaining his political and economic program that puts forward ideas with which we agree in many points. But we are still struggling with the fact that this date, the 24th of July, neither serves the Tunisian people nor an authentic constituent assembly and is not advantageous for all tendencies and opinions. Those who have the most opportunities concerning this date are the RCD and the liberal and reformist coalitions it is allied with. This is why we are for the constituent assembly, but not for these mindsets. If we do not succeed in adjourning [the date], we will be obliged to ally with some of the tendencies and the social and political parties whose theses are cut off from us in the papers.

We see the elections as elections of the constituent assembly and the constituent assembly will officially establish a new constitution. It is necessary that it has a lot of guarantees at its disposal. What does that mean? First of all, it is necessary that an independent judiciary be guaranteed. An independent judiciary does not yet exist even symbolically, because Ben Ali is still the president of the supreme court of justice. Until now the judiciary has not become independent. The media are still not free. We think that for effective elections, equity in the media must be guaranteed and the media must be open to all components and all opinions. This is the second thing. The third thing is the administration… the administration is not neutral. Ben Ali succeeded in spreading his despotic sovereignty among the Tunisian people and in falsifying elections with the help of an administration that was subordinate to him. We are convinced that the symbol figures of corruption that were with Ben Ali before are still here.

The third…the fourth thing….we have spoken about the judiciary, the media and the administration… is the period limited to three months during which the programs of political parties that were oppressed are presented…not only political parties, but also tendencies, ideas and programs in all fields. They will be presented within three months. As to that, I tell you that only the RCD has the money, the possibilities, the police and so on. The RCD has the best chances, you understand? The serious signs indicate that the constituent assembly is not an authentic constituent assembly and that the political police still exists. The political police is still around here somewhere. Until now, the members of the RCD, the people who admired it and expressed their admiration and who oppressed the Tunisian people still walk around and still have a free hand. The symbolic figures of the RCD, that is still imposed, were questioned, courts were installed for them…the symbolic figures of the RCD, I do not say the whole RCD, but the symbolic figures of the RCD in the central committee, in the political divan and in coordinating committees, and all the thousands and thousands of members of the RCD, who were torturing, betraying and undermining the Tunisian people, are still walking around. The abode of snipers who shot at and killed the martyrs is still known and they still have a free hand. This is why in this whole context an authentic constituent assembly cannot work, and I say that under these circumstances, the constituent assembly is imposed on the Tunisian people.



We have even already had a good relationship with the “National Association of Unemployed University Graduates” in Morocco. It has a lot of experience…a long experience since it was founded in 1990, you understand? So they have already been supporting and helping us, you understand? This means, if something happens to us…in other words, there is a group of Liberals, of honorable people who believe that our issue is fair and that our issue must be supported and sustained, and who declare their solidarity with us.

Maybe in coming days, after it is revealed to the whole world…after the lie of Ben Ali’ s promised paradise has been revealed, after truth has come to light and after it has come to light that there exists a lot of unjustness, a lot of wrong, exclusion and… in general, there exists a big catastrophe that is called Ben Ali and that is called dictatorship, you understand? There are people who want to help us. Of course, we would rather prefer being supported through the recognition of our issue. This means, financial support and so on is not what we require at the moment. We need to know who sides with the friends of the Tunisian people and who believes in the justness of the Tunisian people’s issues.




 If those who have a bearing on and supervise the course of the process of the elections of the constituent assembly and the elaboration of a new constitution for the country are those who constitute this responsible government now, if we do not succeed in changing… if we do not succeed in prolonging the revolution, if the Tunisian people does not succeed so that we can find ourselves concerned about the Tunisian people and if we do not succeed in holding elections of an effective constituent assembly for the establishment of an effective new constitution, then we expect nothing for this government and it will not establish anything new, which means that it will set up the same kind of political, economic, social, cultural, environmental or juvenile system. It will be the same. It will be preserved with a few retouches that are required by the situation. We think, as I have said, that unemployment is connected to a certain model that is (in the process of) development. We think, for example, and this is probably a common point of view, that socialism is a better model for the abrogation and the termination of unemployment, but we realize that socialism does not find the climate and the adequate terrain it needs to arise in our society now, in present times.

But what we have to point out is that there are various forms of democracy. There is the bourgeois democratic form, which is the European pattern. The truth is that we think that it is, as you have said, built on the capitalist model and contributes to unemployment and a lot of other social problems like prostitution and so on, and to the decrease of purchasing power, price increase, economic crises and so on.

However, we are convinced that there exists a model that is less oppressive against the people, which is popular democracy and the form of forms of the bourgeois system. Popular democracy is a better model which we are able to establish with our political possibilities and the forces of the Tunisian people that are dead now. We can establish our democratic system or our democratic popular government with the possibilities that are available now, but not with the help of the remnants of the former system. Popular democracy is a bourgeois model that is less oppressive against society. We see this as the climate in which we can introduce an idea of a real national economy and even of what is called bourgeoisie, which should be a national bourgeoisie, not an agents’ bourgeoisie… a bourgeoisie that serves the interests of the national capital and does not serve the interests of a small minority, in other words, of bloodsuckers and of the Tunisian or the world’s mafia, as it was before.

The European Union, the Arab Bank of Commerce, the International Monetary Fund and the UNO are all organizations for the establishment of dependency and colonialism. These organizations do not even serve the European nations and the American nation. These organizations only speak for big capitalists and international monopolistic companies, be it financial, industrial or military. These organizations… you can say, that this is my point of view, the point of view of the union and the point of view of Liberals all over the country and the world, of revolutionists and progressive people of the whole world. This is not a duality of discourse and we will not be deceived by what is called duality of discourse. This is an attitude. These organizations supported and still support dictatorships. To point it out more precisely, before the 14th of January they did not seem to advocate dictatorships, but rather opposed them in several points, and the European Union did not confer the status of an advanced partner on Ben Ali under the pretext that he was an egoist and did not care about human rights and so on, which is true. This is really true. But the European Union does not want to hear it and is now putting obstacles in the way and supporting counterrevolutionary forces. It is not on behalf of the European Union that the Tunisian people take its fate into its own hands… neither the Tunisian people nor any other people. It is on behalf of the European Union…what is the European Union? I speak about organizations and the European Union that stands for governments and governments that stand for the world’s bourgeoisie and the big capitalists. It is not on its behalf that people move and take an interest in and dominate over the resources of their country. This is why they do not only apply double standards but they apply several standards. They support who they want and oppose who they want, and we see that they support for decades. They support dictatorship in Saudi Arabia, Syria, Yemen, Libya, Tunisia, Egypt, Algeria and Morocco. Dictatorships all over the world are supported by these organizations, and the moment they seem to oppose them…. they oppose them as there is a kind of breakup with those who oppose them because these regimes seemed independent from them anytime, like what happened in Iraq, with Saddam Hussein, and what happened in Syria. The best proof for that is what is happening in Libya today. What is happening in Libya today has never been an assistance for the Libyan people and the Libyan issue because they came from this direction, you understand, and brought what is called pump in order to extract gas. I do not know, say it as you want. So they brought machines and armor plates as a protection against bombing, but they also brought with them contracts concerning oil.

This… how should we explain it…. this upright feeling of assisting the people… why did they not assist in Yemen, why did they not assist in Bahrain and why did they not assist the Palestinian people in terms of its fair issue, if they support fair issues all over the world. These plans that they made and the issue of the Middle East and the “Road Map” plan and so on are plans for the restoration of order and for making the Arab societies kneel down again with other methods and instruments.

Today is the International Day of Youth Against Colonialism.




I will not add a lot more. As I have said, there are two things I want to explain to our friends who surely sympathize with our issue. The first thing is that our battle will begin now as we want to achieve, as I have said, the aims of the revolution and honor the people who died. The second thing is that our issue is an international issue. Who oppresses the Tunisian people also oppresses in Singapore, Italy, Greece, America… an issue that is international issue. And I see that the struggle is against those who oppress the Tunisian people. The best gift that can be made by a youth that sympathizes with the Tunisian people is that they struggle with us in their societies against big capitalists and against governments that support dictatorships.

This means, the issue is not separated from the international struggle for the sake of an international front for the elimination of all those who oppress people and who suck the people’s blood. Colonialism has no color. The double oppression that was forced on us by the system of Ben Ali and its successors and by imperialist companies and capitalists was, with another form, also forced on the Italian youth, the Greek youth, the Singaporean youth, the Balinese youth, the Mozambican youth and so on. This means, our battle is an international battle and the youth all over the world must realize the significance of an international struggle and the significance of uniting the youth all over the world and of uniting the world’s fair issues.