Call for the defense of the Carthage - Sidi Bou Said cultural Site TUNISIE

English Version

(French version below)

Ancient Carthage and the historical, traditional village of Sidi Bou Said, a cultural site par excellence, beautifully fitting within the landscapes of the Gulf of Tunis, are part and parcel of the Mediterranean peoples' memories.

Concerned by the future of this approximately 400-hectared site, at a time when urban expansion disrupted territories, the Ministry of Culture and the UNESCO Director General launched an international excavation plan in 1972, which made it possible to bring to light numerous vestiges and to understand better the urban history of the Punic and Roman eras.

The discoveries were spectacular and, as a result, Carthage- Sidi Bou Said was listed by UNESCO as world heritage of humankind in 1979.

In 1985, the site was subjected to a listing procedure limiting the non aedificandi areas- that is not suitable for building on- by virtue of their "archeological, historical, aesthetic and natural interests".

This national and international judicial ratification has not prevented this site from being endangered today in 2011, failing the approval of the Protection and Development Plan finalized in 2000.

Indeed, in spite of the concerns expressed by the UNESCO and the warnings issued by archaeologists and town planners, numerous violations of this heritage have been committed by members of families in connection with the destitute regime, namely:

- the un-listing of a large area of the archaeological territory in order to build on it a real-estate complex to speculative ends, the " Residences of Carthage"

- Special dispensation granted to build on non aedificandi areas

- The appropriation of historical palaces and residences as well as of pieces from our heritage.

This is how individuals protected by the default regime had misappropriated State property for their sole benefit, with the consent of the administration, seriously damaging the patrimonial wealth of the country.

Through the national and international press that has already publicized these misappropriations of property, public opinion demands forthwith, and without any delay, enquiries, justice and compensations for the damages caused to the site.

The necessary administrative and judicial enquiries will allow the national committee in charge of cases of abuse of power, misappropriation of property and corruption, to make clear each individual responsibility in the matter and to initiate proceedings.

While these procedures are being on their way, we, the undersigned, call the Minister of Culture to take the following urgent measures:

  • The sequestration of misappropriated property

  • The suspension of all illegal building work taking place on the archaeological site of Carthage- Sidi Bou Said

  • The start of the procedure concerning the approval of the Protection and Development Plan of the Carthage- Sidi Bou Said Site.

Let all those men and women outraged by the misappropriation of State property

Let all those men and women who have their hearts set on transmitting this universal cultural heritage to future generations, insert their full names, positions and signatures on the present petition.

Jellal Abdelkafi, town planner- Abdelmajid Ennabli, archaeologist

Tunis, February 04, 2011


French Version


Appel pour la defense du site culturel de Carthage-Sidi Bou Said,

Patrimoine de l'humanite

La Carthage antique et le village historique et traditionnel de Sidi Bou Said, site culturel par excellence, magnifiquement integre dans les paysages du golfe de Tunis font partie integrante de la memoire des peuples de la Mediterranee.

Soucieux du devenir de ce site de pres de 400 hectares, au moment ou les poussees de l'urbanisation perturbaient les territoires, le Ministre de la Culture de la Republique tunisienne et le Directeur General de l'Unesco lancaient en 1972 la campagne internationale de fouilles ; ce qui a permis de mettre au jour nombre de vestiges et de mieux comprendre l'histoire urbaine aux epoques punique et romaine.

Les decouvertes ont ete spectaculaires et au vu de ces resultats, l'Unesco inscrivait Carthage-Sidi Bou Said sur la Liste du patrimoine mondial de l'humanite en 1979.

Le site a fait l'objet en 1985 d'une procedure de classement definissant les zones non aedificandi - c'est a dire non constructibles- en vertu de l'interet archeologique, historique, esthetique et naturel .

Cette consecration juridique nationale et internationale n'empeche pas, que le site soit, aujourd'hui, en 2011, en peril, faute d'approbation du Plan de Protection et de Mise en Valeur finalise en 2000.

En effet, et malgre les inquietudes de l'Unesco et les mises en garde des archeologues et urbanistes, de nombreuses atteintes a ce patrimoine ont ete commises par les membres des familles liees au regime dechu qui ont obtenu :

  • le declassement d'une vaste zone du territoire archeologique pour construire un complexe immobilier aux fins speculatives, les  Residences de Carthage !

  • la derogation de construire dans des zones non aedificandi

  • l'accaparement de palais et demeures historiques ainsi que de pieces du patrimoine.

C'est ainsi que des personnes protegees par le regime dechu, avaient detourne le domaine public de l'Etat a leur seul profit, avec le consentement de l'administration portant ainsi une grave atteinte aux richesses patrimoniales du pays.

A travers la presse nationale et internationale qui s'est deja fait l'echo de ces malversations, l'opinion reclame maintenant et, toutes affaires cessantes, enquetes, justice et reparations des dommages causes au site.

Les necessaires enquetes administrative et judiciaire permettront a la commission nationale chargee des affaires d'abus de pouvoir, de detournement de biens et de corruption, de mettre en evidence les responsabilites des uns et des autres et de proceder a des poursuites judiciaires

En attendant la mise en oeuvre de ces procedures, les soussignes appellent M. Le Ministre de la Culture, a prendre, en urgence, les mesures suivantes :

  • la mise sous sequestre des biens detournes

  • la suspension de tous les travaux de construction illegale en cours dans le site archeologique de Carthage et le village de Sidi Bou Said

  • l'engagement de la procedure d'approbation du Plan de Protection et de Mise en Valeur du site de Carthage-Sidi Bou Said

Que toutes celles et ceux qui sont indignes par le detournement des biens publics

Que toutes celles et ceux qui ont a coeur la transmission de ce patrimoine culturel universel aux generations futures apposent leurs nom, qualite et signature sur la presente petition.

Jellal Abdelkafi, urbaniste - Abdelmajid Ennabli, archeologue

Tunis le 4 Fevrier 2011

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