Tunisia: Another World is Possible, A United Movement is Necessary

Today in Tunis, Tunisia, the site of the upcoming World Social Forum (WSF) 2015 from March 24-28, a horrific situation unfolded in the Bardo Museum, nearby the Parliament building, in which an estimated 21 people (tourists, tunisians and gunmen) were killed and 38 wounded. According to Al Jazeera, authorities in Tunisia are saying the attack is over.  We want to express our sincere condolences to the victims of this attack and their loved ones.

Our ally Souha Ben Othman from the Tunisian Association of Democratic Women shared with us this morning:

"We are mourning today, this is a sad day for Tunisia.  Our recommendation is to not panic. The police have stopped the attack, it is over.  It was a horrific attack, but the unfortunate reality is that this could have happened in Washington DC or Paris. There were 19 victims, and nobody has claimed the attack yet. There will be a plan for security and protection at the World Social Forum, most likely there will be more police presence.  We hope that this will not impact people's participation in the Social Forum."

The WSF Local Organizing Committee in Tunis said in a statement released today:

"Through this attack, terrorist groups attempted to undermine the democratic transition Tunisia and the region are currently experiencing while creating a climate of fear amongst citizens who aspire to freedom, democracy and pacific participation in establishing democracy… The social movement in Tunisia and the region counts on the global support of democratic forces to oppose violence and terrorism. More than ever, the massive participation to the WSF (Tunis 24th-28th March 2015) will be the appropriate answer from all the peace and democratic forces towards a better, more fair and free world made of pacific co-existence.”

In an era of extreme anti-Arab racism and Islamophobia, it is important to underscore that attacks like this are not limited to any one city or region of the world.  They have happened in Oklahoma, in Boston, in Paris.  While this horrific attack has shaken us all, it's crucial in this moment that we not criminalize the people of Tunisia.  Communities of color in the US, particularly Arab and Muslim communities, know first hand the xenophobic backlash that comes following a terrorist attack.  Black and brown communities in the US and around the globe know first hand the discriminatory and racialized impact of increased policing,  surveillance, and militarization that often follows such tragedies.  In times like this it is most important that we stick together, support one another, mourn the loss of innocent lives and at the same time not let it stop our organizing for a better world.

Grassroots internationalism calls for our solidarity.  We stand with the people of Tunisia who are calling on the International community to deepen our commitment to this year’s social forum as a gathering of humanitarian strength and support. The World Social Forum process helps protect and advance the gains made by the women, student, worker, civil society movements and is a uniting force for social movements around the world.  What we need right now is a united global movement that will not only support a democratic transition in Tunisia, but also a just transition to a better global economy.

For the past ten years, Grassroots Global Justice Alliance (GGJ) has been building a movement based on feminist grassroots internationalism.  The inspiration that our members felt at the World Social Forum in 2003 was part of what led to our founding in 2005, and this year we are organizing a delegation of 19 people to Tunisia for the World Social Forum 2015. Our delegates represent the grassroots organizing sector in the US, from organizations fighting for climate & environmental justice, gender justice, indigenous rights, an end to war, and an economy that is better for people and the planet.

After speaking with our allies on the ground in Tunis and the region and assessing the situation, we reaffirm our commitment to join the over 70,000 people who are planning to attend the World Social Forum next week in Tunis, Tunisia.  We will continue to monitor the situation closely, stay in close contact with our allies in Tunis, and take all safety precautions that we can to ensure a successful delegation and to join movements from around the world calling for peace and democracy.  

Another World is Possible, A United Movement is Necessary

In Solidarity,

Grassroots Global Justice Alliance (GGJ)