Tunisian group’s statement on the dumping of Italian waste

The following statement was recently published by a Sousse branch of the Union générale des étudiants tunisiens (UGET; details below). The statement is from a second group, protesting against regional poverty and, in particular, the dumping of ‘waste from Italy’ in the Sousse. 

For a thorough overview of the relations between regional social movements and Tunisia’s trade unions, see Mohamed Rami Abdelmoula’s 2020 Al-Safir article, ‘The Tunisian Left After the Revolution: The Challenge of the Social Movements’. 

Note that ‘wilayah’ signifies ‘administrative region’. 

We are a group of citizens, civil society members, workers, students, and unemployed people in the Sousse wilayah. We hereby declare that our patience has run out, and that the period over which authorities promised to find a solution for the people of the Sousse has come to an end; the Sousse, where the largest industrial, touristic, and [public] service institutions have been closed, resulting in grinding unemployment for huge number of workers’ – a dreadful situation for them and their families. [1]

The Sousse, crushed under tonnes of dangerous household waste from Italy – without any official explanation, or guaranteed date on which it will be returned. 

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Source: UGET ISSAT Sousse‘s Facebook page.

The Sousse, which for years and years has been breathing various toxic gases due to the presence of a brick factory, polluting the air in the heart of the region’s urban area. 

The Sousse, which is subjected to an active, intense discrimination, causing a tearing of its economic, social and cultural fabric [جمود أصاب نسيجها], in addition to creating an army of unemployed graduates from Tunisian institutes and universities. 

These sectors represent a huge number of the wilayah’s citizens, who are exhausted by this disastrous situation, the systematic ignoring of which by successive governments has only increased. 

We will not be silent; this time, we will not act alone. That is why we, the signatories of this statement — a statement of both dignity and common destiny – have decided to escalate and protest at 10am, Tuesday 6 April, in front of the headquarters of the Sousse wilayah. We call on all citizens conscious of the scale of the disaster afflicting our wilayah to attend the protest and rally around our legitimate demands, in order to attract attention and begin a serious dialogue – for the sake of the public good and the natural beauty of the Tunisian coast. 

  • Coastal Machineworks 
  • Sidi Bouali Dairy
  • Citizens Against Pollution Caused by Kalaa Saghira Brick Factory
  • Unemployed Graduates 
  • General Union of Tuninisian Students (UGET)
  • Tourism sector workers
  • Workers on Temporary Employment Contracts [عمال الحضائر]
  • The Coordination of the People of El Khadra’s Occupation to Return Italian Waste.

[1] More literally, ‘the larger portion of the people of the Sousse.’ 

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