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Conferința „Writing Freedom”

Scriitorii, poeții, jurnaliștii și blogerii, care datorită activităților lor scriitoricești au fost nevoiți să-și părăsească țara, participă la conferința internațională „Writing Freedom” care se desfășoară la Cracovia în perioada 14-17 mai. Vor fi aproape 200 de oaspeți din 50 de țări: reprezentanți ai instituțiilor care pledează pentru libertatea exprimării, activiști pentru drepturile omului și scriitori persecutați în țara de baștină.

Conferința „Writing Freedom”

In the beginning of everything is the word. It is a miracle to which we owe the fact that we are human. But at the same time it is a pitfall and a test, a snare and a trial. More so, perhaps, than appears to you who have enormous freedom of speech and might therefore assume that words are not so important.  They are. They are important everywhere…

Václav Havel The Power of the Powerless

Almost thirty-five years after the publication of the famous essay by Václav Havel entitled The Power of the Powerless, Central and Eastern Europe is engrossed in a lively debate about human rights and the meaning of freedom of speech. On 14 May in Krakow has begun an extraordinary international conference of ICORN and PEN International WiPC. Almost 200 delegates from 50 countries take part in the Writing Freedom Conference, which attests to the fact that Václav Havel’s words expressed in the Power of the Powerless are still valid today.

Conference participants include representatives of the most important institutions in the world dealing with freedom of speech and expression. Almost two hundred experts have registered for the meeting in Krakow. Delegates include writers, poets, journalists and bloggers, who were forced to leave their homeland due to their creative work: Emin Milli (Azerbaijan), Kareem Amer (Egypt), Zinab El-Rhazoui (Morocco), Haile Bizen Abraha (Eritrea), Dessale Berekhet (Eritrea), Hika Fekede Dugassa (Ethiopia), Mezgebu Hailu Habtewold (Ethiopia), Abdullahi Muhiaddin (Somalia) and Sonali Wickrematunge (Sri Lanka).

The key-note address Free Speech in a Crowded World was delivered by Timothy Garton Ash, Professor of the University of Oxford. The agenda includes workshops on Internet security and the use of social media in galvanising social action. Mansur Rajiha (Yemen), Fareed Ramadan (Bahrain) and Kareem Amer (Egypt) discuss the consequences of the Arab Spring for the freedom of speech in Northern African countries. Kareem Amer was the first blogger sentenced to prison for his critical view of Hosni Mubarak’s administration.

One of the key goals for the conference organisers is to develop a model for promoting authors who risk their lives writing but are often unknown to the general public. Translation and traineeships in publishing houses became the topic for such experts as Anders Heger (Norway), Amanda Hopkinson (UK) Eva Karadi (Hungary) or Philippe Olle-Laprune (Mexico). All participants are also able to listen to reports on the situation of writers from the former USSR countries, presented by Oksana Tchelisheva (Chechnya) and Alexeya Simonova (Russian PEN).

The Writing Freedom Conference is a result of cooperation of two non-governmental organisations: Krakow’s Villa Decius Association and International Cities of Refuge Network based in Stavanger, Norway.