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Tunisian Police bans a meeting of civil society at WSIS

from IMC-Beirut - 17.11.2005 13:56

Press release by the Tunisian Democratic Women’s League, the Heinrich Boll Foundation, and the Arab NGO Network for Development

The Tunisian Democratic Women’s League, the Heinrich Boll Foundation, and the Arab NGO Network for Development are dismayed following the banning of a preparatory meeting in parallel to the WSIS held at the League’s headquarters in Tunis on 14/11/2005. The meeting’s focus was on the WSIS and the role of women in the process.



The Tunisian Democratic Women’s League, the Heinrich Boll Foundation, and the Arab NGO Network for Development are dismayed following the banning of a preparatory meeting in parallel to the WSIS held at the League’s headquarters in Tunis on 14/11/2005. The meeting’s focus was on the WSIS and the role of women in the process.

The mentioned organizations had been preparing for the meeting for the past several weeks and had booked El Teatre in Le Belvedere in Tunis for this purpose. The original meeting was banned for “security reasons” by the authorities. The location was moved to the headquarters of the Tunisian Democratic Women’s League. On the morning of 14/11/2005, the organizations were surprised by a number of security forces who besieged the office and barred the members of the organizations from entering. The security forces did not give any relevant reasons for their decision.

The members of the security forces violently harassed and aggressed civil society activists who wanted to attend the event, although the meeting took place in the presence of those who were already present.

The above organizations denounce the actions of the security forces and call for the respect of civil freedoms in Tunisia, including freedom of opinion and expression and the right to organize and assemble. They do not see any reason to ban a group of civil society activists from meeting, discussing, and sharing ideas about the WSIS, especially since the summit claims to call for a just and free information society.

We also denounce the banning of the Citizen’s Summit on the Information Society, organized by a number of international networks, including the Arab NGO Network for Development, in coordination with the INDEPENDENT civil society organizations in Tunisia. The Citizen’s Summit was intended to provide civil society organization from different fields an opportunity to express their views and share their experiences related to the information and knowledge society.

We call on the international community to pressure the Tunisian government to stop its repressive measures and allow independent organizations to participate, freely, in all the events of the Summit.

Tunis, 16/11/2005


        
 
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