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Veno Taufer: VUKVAR

I had an apparition of Vukovar and I took a walk for a few
    streets -
around the block - with my hands frozen - up to the tobacco shop
and on returning I thought so that's the way they used

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Letter from John Ralston Saul to President Yanukovych

Letter from John Ralston Saul to President Yanukovych (PDF)




32nd PEN International Day of the Imprisoned Writer

A public call to the relevant authorities

Day of the imprisoned writerThe poets, writers and journalists Rodney Sieh (Liberia), Kunchok Tsephel Gopey Tsang (Tibet), Dina Meza (Honduras), Fazil Say (Turkey), Zahra Rahnavard (Iran), the poet Aron Atabek (Kazakhstan) and many others have in the 21st century been imprisoned, tortured or even killed simply because they publicly expressed their beliefs and their views of the political conditions in the country of which they were/are citizens.

In striving for the consistent respect of one of the fundamental human rights, the freedom to express one’s opinions and convictions, which should not be denied to a single person on the planet and without respect for which there is no future for culture and civilisation, only a path back to slavery, on behalf of the Slovene PEN Centre and the Writers for Peace PEN International Committee we call upon the authorities of the states in which this is happening to forthwith release the imprisoned poets and writers and all those others whose freedom has been taken away simply because they publicly declared their opinions or political stance. We also call upon the Government of the Republic of Slovenia and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, as well as all the governments of the democratic states which do respect the aforementioned fundamental freedom, to use in their direct contacts with the governments of the states in which infringements of this freedom are taking place and in the UN bodies, every opportunity to do all that is in their power to compel these states to consistently respect this right, even if this means upsetting those in power.


Tone Peršak, President of the WfPC of PEN International

 

Marjan Strojan, President of the Slovene PEN

 

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79th PEN International Congress in Reykjavík

John Ralston Saul’s greetings


Iceland has always been a great centre of literature. It has the highest per-capita reading public in the world. One other remarkable fact: the stability of the Icelandic language is such that today people can easily read the great Sagas of Icelanders from one thousand years ago. Finally, Iceland is one of the birthplaces of modern democracy, with its Alþingi, where the great public debates took place as early as the 10th Century. The site is still very moving. I hope you will have a chance to see it.
To all of this I must add that Iceland has a remarkable and large family of contemporary writers. All of them are members of Icelandic PEN. Their President, the novelist Sjón, and his colleagues are putting together a Congress which will mark another step in our attempts to make these gatherings more informal and inclusive.
I know this will be an important Congress for strengthening our Digital strategies. Also, the last year has seen a lot of PEN interventions on the ground in support of freedom of expression, literary initiatives through our restructured Free the Word! program and an emphasis on Centre development. We must talk about all of that. We will be launching the first PEN International literary prize - the PEN International/New Voices Award.
This 79th gathering will also see an important new approach because of the way the Congress is being linked with The Reykjavík International Literary Festival.
I look forward to seeing you all in Reykjavík.
John Ralston Saul
President of PEN International



Adopted at the 79th World PEN Congress in Reykjavik, September 2013
Bled Manifesto of the Writers for Peace Committee
PEN International,the world’s leading association of writers, promotes a culture of peace based on freedom of expression, dialogue, and exchange. PEN is dedicated to linguistic and cultural diversity and to the vibrancy of languages and their cultures whether spoken by many or few.  PEN International’s Writers for Peace Committee has therefore approved this Manifesto calling for the universal right to peace, based on the Lugano Declaration for Peace and Freedom (1987), on the  Appeal of Linz Protesting Against the Degradation of the Environment (2009)  and on the Belgrade Declaration of the Writers for Peace Committee, approved at the 77th Congress of PEN International (September 2011).1. All individuals and peoples have a right to peace and this right should be recognised by the United Nations as a universal human right. 2. PEN promotes discussion and dialogue between writers from countries in conflict and across regions of the world where wounds are open and political will is unable to address tensions. 3. PEN seeks to bring together people from around the world through literature and discussion amongst writers and with the broad public. 4. PEN considers one of the world’s greatest challenges to be the transition from violence to debate, discussion and dialogue. We aim to be active participants in this progress promoting where necessary the principles of international law. 5. In order to achieve the conditions for peace, freedom of expression and creativity in all its forms must be respected and protected as a fundamental right so long as it respects all other basic human rights in accordance with the principles of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.6. PEN acknowledges that it is of primary importance to be permanently committed to creating conditions that can lead to ending conflicts of all kinds. There is neither freedom without peace, nor peace without freedom; social and political justice is inaccessible without peace and freedom. 7. In order to achieve sustainable conditions for peace, PEN calls for the respect of the environment in conformity with the Rio Declaration on Environment and Development (1992). We condemn the excesses of technology and financial speculation that contribute to the impoverishment of a large part of the world’s population.  8.  PEN respects and defends the dignity of all human beings. PEN opposes injustice and violence wherever they are found, including oppression, colonisation, illegal occupation and terrorism.  9. In accordance with the principles of freedom of expression and justice, every individual or group involved in conflict has the right to demand non-violent solutions to conflict and should be free to petition and appeal to  international institutions and government authorities. 10. All children have the right to receive a comprehensive peace and human rights education.  PEN promotes the implementation of this right.
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