Writing Freedom Comes to Krakow
Writing Freedom – The Biannual PEN International WiPC Conference & ICORN Network Meeting, Krakow 14-17 May 2013
On the eve of the third Czesław Miłosz Literary Festival, the Biannual PEN International WiPC Conference & ICORN Network Meeting – the most important international institutions bringing together writers from all over the world and promoting human rights – will take place in Krakow. The conference will be held under a title Writing Freedom and will gather nearly 200 guests from all over the world, including Belarus, Belgium, China, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, the Philippines, France, Spain, the Netherlands, Ireland, Iceland, Japan, Canada, Mexico, Nigeria, Netherlands, Norway, Polish, Russia, South Africa, Slovakia, Slovenia, the United States, Switzerland, Sweden, Great Britain, Hungary, will participate. This is the most important event of its kind in the world.
Conference discussions will be devoted to one of the most important and also most difficult of freedom: the freedom of writing, creating, freedom of expression, the situation of persecuted writers, as well as the importance of young democracies to promote human rights in the contemporary world. The context of the Miłosz Festival directly brings to the conference the biographies of many prominent writers from around the world who – like the exiled Miłosz – write on such issues as political, religious or moral, but also artistic – outside their homelands.
The selection of Krakow as the host of the conference emphasizes the status of the capital of Małopolska as the city of opened gates, founded on the tradition of respect for diversity of cultures and languages. It is also a clear indication of the importance of the Małopolska region as an area of particular importance for understanding modern multiculturalism. This is a place of careful reflection on the freedom of speech resonating the entire Central and Eastern Europe.
Most of the events will be held at the Museum of Japanese Art and Technology Manggha, and the Renaissance Villa Decius, a place specifically dedicated to literature and human rights. For nearly two decades the biggest scholarship programs have been carried. Persecuted writers, authors and advocates of freedom of speech have met in the Villa Decius. The Villa is also a host of the only Polish award in the field of human rights – Sergio Vieira de Mello Award – UN High Commissioner for Human Rights.
The Writing Freedom conference is organised as a part of the Reading Małopolska programme, supported by the Malopolska Regional Operational Programme for 2007-2013. Within the programme the region of Małopolska and its capital Krakow want to communicate their literary heritage and engage in creating networks of freedom and cooperation.
Registration to selected meetings available at: www.readingmalopolska.pl
The International Cities of Refuge Network is an association of cities around the world dedicated to the value of Freedom of Expression. Writers have consistently been targets of politically motivated threats and persecution, and the network believes it is necessary for the international community to formulate and implement an appropriate response.
Each ICORN city focuses on one writer at a time, each writer representing the countless others in hiding, in prison or silenced forever. By providing a Guest Writer with a safe place to stay and economic security for a standard term of two years, ICORN cities make an important, practical contribution to the promotion of Freedom of Expression.
The City of Krakow has been invited to join ICORN as the first city of Central and Eastern Europe. The invitation sent to the Krakow City Council ICORN executive authorities indicated Krakow as important and the most reasonable candidate who will serve as an excellent model for other cities in this part of Europe.
Within two years of membership in ICORN Krakow hosted two writers: Maria Amelie – writer of Russian origin, who after writing a book describing the experiences of illegal immigrants deported from Norway, and Kareem Amer – an Egyptian blogger sentenced to four years in prison for criticising the government of Hosni Mubarak.
PEN International WiPC
The Writers in Prison Committee of PEN International works on behalf of persecuted writers worldwide. It was established in 1960 in response to increasing attempts to silence voices of dissent by imprisoning writers and journalists. The committee currently monitors the cases of 700-900 writers annually.
The committee lobbies governments and offers moral support to imprisoned writers who may become honorary members of individual Centres. The committee maintains a database of all cases of abuses against writers and journalists, updated daily. Information on individual cases or specific countries is available on request.
Photo by Alina Nagórna (CC) www.flickr.com