Tunisia is where the wave of Arab Revolutions began. To understand how people lived under a dictatorship and in a permanent state of fear this BBC documentary visited the ancient city of Kairouan in Tunisia in 2011 and uncovered a population that was ruled through fear and repression. By talking to the torturers, informers, government militias and secret policemen who ruled there this documentary explores how the dictatorship managed to maintain control for so many decades. During the more than 20-year rule of President Ben Ali thousands were “disappeared”, jailed and tortured by the State’s Security Apparatus. At the time of producing this film, the Secret Police were still officially in charge and we faced extraordinary difficulties in persuading both the victims and the perpetrators to talk. Most of the contributors were threatened with jail or worse if they talked to us. Despite this the documentary makers managed to produce a chilling portrait of a population that was spied on by their neighbours and in terror of “midnight arrests”. But there are also startling revelations from the Security Services, with the torturers and Secret Police for the first time confronting what they have done and trying to explain why.
NOTE: Transcript of film included – on request – with an Education License