US lawmakers and researchers have urged president Joe Biden to pressure Tunisian President Kais Saied to reinstate “democratic rule” in the country.
Fifty-one people comprising diplomats, ex-representatives, and academics, have sent an open letter to the US president published on the Project on Middle East Democracy website. The letter highlights their increasing concern over the current situation in Tunisia that they claim is going through the “rapid decline back to an authoritarian system.”
The letter said: “Since President Kais Saied’s power grab on the 25th of July 2021, he’s effectively established a one-man-rule over Tunisia by establishing unchecked authority over the legislative, executive, and judicial branches of the government. The president has unlawfully frozen the parliament and closed up the independent National Anti-Corruption Authority, dissolved the Supreme Judicial Council, side-lined the Independent High Authority for Elections (ISIE), and has ignored the country’s highly acclaimed 2014 democratic constitution.”
“In December, as a reaction to international and domestic tensions, Saied finally announced a road map for Tunisia’s politics for the coming months. The plan, however, did not provide sufficient details and was developed unilaterally without input or transparency from other Tunisian civil and political players. While it is not a route towards democracy, the plan extends Saied’s power without any checks until, at minimum, the end of this year. Saied’s other anti-democratic actions include bringing people to court–some in military trials for criticizing the government, employing police violence on peaceful demonstrators, and even drafting an unconstitutional new law for NGOs,” continued the letter.
The letter also said, “While some Tunisians initially supported Saied’s power grab with the hope that he could end the country’s economic crisis and a growing dysfunction in the political system. However, support for him has steadily declined as time has passed. Saved has not offered a good plan to tackle the current economic crisis and has refused to collaborate with Tunisia’s ruling civil society or political parties (including that of the Nobel Peace Prize winner National Dialogue Quartet) to tackle the challenges facing Tunisia. A survey conducted in January 2022 indicates that optimism for the country’s prospects has nearly doubled since July.”
The letter’s authors believe: “The absence of a significant US response to Saied’s attack on democracy could have pushed Saied to continue on his destructive course.”
Former Tesla Employees Sue The Company Over An Alleged Abusive Behaviour Reminiscent.
Kaylen Barker, a Black woman who worked in the Tesla manufacturing facility, filed a lawsuit last week in California asserting that the automaker allows “rampant acts of racism” within its manufacturing facilities.
The lawsuit of Barker details a string of racist incidents that escalated in 2023, which the automaker was said to have been unaware of until a colleague hit her with a “hot tool”, at her and slammed her with a racial insult and used insulting words. The confrontation resulted in Barker with a swollen thigh, and she is still suffering “emotional distress, humiliation, shame and embarrassment,” according to the suit.
The offender was fired and rehired 2 weeks later, per the lawsuit. The lawsuit states that Barker was employed at the Tesla factory in Lathrop, California.
“Being a Black worker at a Tesla’s renowned California factory is to be forced to step back in time and suffer painful abuses reminiscent of the Jim Crow era,” the lawsuit claims.
The lawsuit that Barker filed in the Superior Court of California claims that she was subjected to harassment following her appointment to supervise coworkers working in the brakes department of Tesla vehicles.
The suit claims an employee claimed that the “Black girl” should not be promoted over her and Barker “is Black and doesn’t know anything.”
Barker, 25, who is 25, said she would inform Tesla’s Human Resources department “and” her supervisor after each incident of racism; however, Barker wasn’t informed of any corrective measures taking place until the incident involving that hot instrument, as stated in the lawsuit.
Tesla has not responded to a request for comments.
The automaker has faced allegations of racism issues in its work environment before.
Owen Diaz, a former Tesla employee, received $136.9 million in compensation last year when the jury found that the company discriminated against racial minorities in the workplace. Others Tesla employees have been suing in recent times, accusing the company of having a toxic environment within its manufacturing facility.
Tesla was unconvinced of the verdict in the case of Diaz.
“While we strongly believe that these facts don’t justify the verdict reached by the jury in San Francisco, we do recognize that in 2015 and 2016 we were not perfect,” Valerie Capers Workman, Tesla’s vice president at the time of employees, wrote in an article on the Tesla blog. “We’re still far from being perfect. However, we’ve come quite many steps from 5 months ago.”
Workman left Tesla in late March, per her LinkedIn profile, and released Tesla’s first equity, diversity and inclusion report in 2023.
Black as well as African American employees are 10 per cent of Tesla’s US workforce, as per the 2020 report. Additionally, women make up 21% of the US workforce. Women comprise 17% of the top leadership positions in Tesla’s US workforce.
Tesla isn’t the only automaker to have employees who have been able to report experiencing racism in the production plant.
A lawsuit filed in 2018 by General Motors described nooses being hanging and “whites-only” written on a bathroom. GM has stated in the past that harassment and discrimination are unacceptable and to treat any reported incident with compassion and urgency. Ford has also been sued, claiming it discriminates against people of colour. Ford has stated that it is against discrimination and takes allegations seriously.