9 November 2005. The Heinrich Böll Foundation had planned a meeting for the Foundation's partners in Tunis on 14 November 2005. This by-invitation-only event was supposed to take place at the cultural centre "El Teatro", which had been booked for this purpose month ago.
News has just reached us that the management of El Teatro was instructed by the authorities not to host our meeting due to "security reasons." The meeting will hopefully take place at another location now.
The event was meant to provide a space for exchange between the diverse partners the Heinrich Böll Foundation has been working with in the WSIS process. It was organized by the HBF offices in Berlin, Ramallah, Nigeria and South Africa. It has been planned, in cooperation with the Association Tunisienne des Femmes Democrates (ATFD), one of the very few independent Tunisian NGOs with legal status in the country.
These events may be minor, but they already shed some light on the tight repression and the attempts to control the summit as much as it can by the Tunisian government. We heard from Tunis that the street to the summit premises is fenced with barbed wire, all side streets are blocked, there are a number of control posts before you can actually get there, and the city is already full of police.
As a German summit participant who already is in Tunis wrote us today: "This does not have to mean anything, and since the attacks in Jerba a few years ago we know that Tunisia is not safe from terrorist attacks. But this impressive security apparatus can easily be used for other purposes."