Tunisian government obstructs civil society events
  Citizens Summit meeting blocked
  14 November 2005. As the WSIS summit draws closer, the Tunisian authorities are continuing to prevent any civil society events taking place outside the summit compound. This morning, Tunisian police blocked the Goethe Institut where a preparation meeting for the Citizens Summit was to take place. Several participants were insulted and violently beaten.
  Mahmoud Dhaouadi, Secretary General of the journalist union SJT, is harassed by police.
  The Citizens Summit has been planned as a parallel event to take place in the city centre of Tunis. The idea has been to organise a civil society space, separate from the official summit, for critical debates on the summit themes. The event has been organised by a coalition of international NGOs and Tunisian human rights groups.

The Citizens summit faced its first difficulties last week when the venue which had been booked and paid for was canceled due to pressure from the Tunisian authorities. The conflict escalated today when participants of a preparation meeting were physically prevented from entering the Goethe Institute by Tunisian police.

As the Goethe Institute is the official institution linked to the German foreign ministry, the German government delegation has taken up the issue. The head of delegation visited the Institute, but even he was not allowed to access the Institute.

The delegations of the European Union have held an emergency meeting and are now inviting the organisers of the Citizens Summit for a consultation meeting at the offices of the EU commission. In doing so, they wish to show their support to the Citizens Summit and to raise the diplomatic pressure on the Tunisian government.

With this latest prove of the determination of the Tunisian authorities to prevent any independent meeting of civil society groups outside the summit compound - even by using heavily armed police - the repressive government activities again seem to become the center of summit debates. News are coming in that large numbers of police are gathering in fornt of other spaces where civil society groups are planning to meet today...



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