April 9th, Tunisian Martyrs’ Day, is celebrated every year at the martyrs’ monument in Sijoumi. This date refers to the riots that took place on April 9th, 1938 and which led to the dissolution of the “Neo-Destour” on April 12th, 1938.
“We are here today to show our strength […] the one that will unsettle the colonialism […] The Tunisian Parliament will only be created by activists’ martyrdom and youth’s sacrifices…”: activist Ali Belhaouane’s words, on April 8th 1938, during a protest in front of the seat of the General Residence. The demonstration was disbanded and the Neo-Destour leaders announced that another one was planned on April 10th.
A huge crowd gathered in front of the courthouse on April 9th after Ali Belhouane was convened by the investigating judge. What followed was a bloodbath; the law enforcement authorities spread the crowds using gunfire. 22 people died and 150 were injured; the state of siege was announced in Tunis, Sousse and Cap Bon.
The April 9th events represented a major turning point in the country’s path to independence. The latter was only achieved after about twenty years.