Yassine Selmi, a 22-year-old Tunisian, died by setting himself on fire in the Kairouan region, in the center of the country, after being threatened with arrest by police officers, his office said. family, Friday April 12, at Agence France-Presse (AFP).

The young man set himself on fire on Tuesday, when police officers asked him to remain silent under penalty of arrest, while he had “interposed himself to resolve a dispute between two people in front of a police station in Bou Hajla” , a disadvantaged agricultural town, his father, Mansour Selmi, told AFP. “I was informed of his death [Thursday] at the burn hospital in Tunis,” said Mr. Selmi, adding that he intends to “assert his son’s rights” before the competent authorities.

In December 2010, the self-immolation of Mohamed Bouazizi, a 26-year-old fruit and vegetable seller, triggered a vast social and political protest movement, which culminated in the fall of dictator Zine El-Abidine in January 2011. Ben Ali after twenty-three years of unchallenged reign.

147 cases of suicide or attempted suicide in 2023

Cases of suicide by self-immolation are regularly recorded in the country, particularly in deprived interior regions. In early April, a woman set herself on fire in Sfax after a dispute with the police over a stall where she was selling products. According to authorities, she was hospitalized in critical condition, suffering from third-degree burns on several parts of her body.

A year ago, in 2023, a former professional footballer for a local team, Nizar Aïssaoui, 35, set himself on fire near Kairouan to protest against the “police state” after learning that agents were were looking for following a dispute in a market over the price of bananas, according to local media.

According to the Tunisian Forum for Economic and Social Rights, a local NGO that conducts a quarterly census, 147 cases of suicide and attempted suicide were recorded in 2023 (82% are men and 18% women), including 26 in the Kairouan region.