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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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International day of Peace

PeaceDeclaration of the Writers for Peace Committee at the 77th Congress of PEN International in Belgrade, September 2011

We live in an age where a broad and systemic meaning is attributed to the idea of peace.  It is conceived as the ability to confront conflicts and a willingness to shepherd open and potential violence into forms of dialogue, in spite of the difficulties involved in such an approach.

This is why our mission as writers is complex, as we must promote a culture of peace not only through our writings, but also as simple citizens of the world.  Wherever there is oppression, colonization, or illegal occupation, injustice and violence, whatever the form it takes, peace is a challenge, which we must take up by helping to promote the power of citizens who are confronting the brutality of arbitrary systems.

Therefore, we stress the urgent need to have a viable negotiated solution between all the parties involved in Israel and Palestine, so that their peoples can live in self-determination, liberty, peace and security. A solution must be negotiated for those regions where respect for civil rights and self-determination cannot prevail until an agreement has been reached by the parties.

At the same time we are convinced that the solution to the cultural, linguistic, ethnic, social, and political conflicts in Tibet, in the land of the Uyghurs, Kurds, and Basques, in the Balkans, Mexico, and in so many other countries cannot be found without dialogue.
The Lugano Declaration of 1987, approved at the 50th Congress of International PEN, says that “There can be no freedom without peace, nor peace without freedom.”  It also states that “terrorism must be condemned, whether it comes from states or individuals or whether it claims to be justified within the framework of a struggle for liberation.”

Our century should also pay urgent attention to the violent ways through which financial speculation has brought about the impoverishment of a large part of the world population, as well as the increased exploitation of natural resources, endamaging the global climate, and the violent attacks on nature and the environment.  It is in this sense that the commitment to making peace always has a political aspect insofar as it is public; it should always be a part of human rights that have as their aim a self-determination that is responsible and cooperative.  Nonetheless, it is our deep conviction that all the national PEN centres and above all the members of the Writers for Peace Committee (WfPC) should condemn terrorism and violence in all its forms.  Indeed, the WfPC has kept the symbol of “the pen which conquers the sword.”


International PEN Congress in Belgrade

The decision to hold the forthcoming International PEN Congress in Belgrade is a huge recognition of Serbian PEN Center’s work so far. This first-class literary, cultural, social and public gathering will bring along further international respect and recognition of Belgrade and Serbia, of its culture and literature. This is the first ever International PEN Congress to be held in Serbia – and this is happening in a year which is very important to us, for two reasons: not only does International PEN celebrate its 90th birthday in 2011, but the Serbian PEN Center also marks its 85th anniversary. By becoming the International PEN Congress host, Belgrade will have an important chance to bring together some of the most important authors in contemporary world literature, and present them with “the best of Serbian culture”.
The Congress will, over several days, accommodate representatives of all 144 PEN Centers around the world. In total, more than 300 writers, publishers, translators and editors will visit the Serbian capital in September this year; most of these people are world-famous authors of contemporary literature, whose books have been translated into some of the most important languages of the world and published globally.

The Serbian PEN Center will, during the Congress, organize The World Literary Festival Free the Word. We believe this will be a huge literary and cultural event - not only in Serbia, but also in the whole of the Balkans region.

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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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