18 January 2013 ICORN and PEN International WiPC

A joint conference organised by ICORN and PEN International WiPC will take place in Krakow between the 14th and the 16th of May 2013 and will gather nearly 200 representatives of literary life from all over the world: writers, critics, translators, managers and literary institution employees. The programme covers 20 sessions during which the members of both organisations will debate on their future and the challenges in protecting and promoting the freedom of speech. Conference discussions will be focused around the problems of free speech, persecuted writers and the meaning of young democracies in promoting human rights in a globalising world.

ICORN (International Cities of Refuge Network) is an organisation of cities and regions offering refuge to persecuted writers. The objective of the organisation is to provide safe living and working conditions for the people of the pen whose works have become the reason for their political persecution. ICORN is building a permanent and dynamic network based on international solidarity, one of the strongest voices defending the freedom of thought and speech in the world. There are over 40 cities in ICORN, including Brussels, Frankfurt, Miami, Stockholm and Mexico City. Krakow was invited to join ICORN as the first member city from Central and Eastern Europe. In an invitation addressed to the Krakow City Council, the executive authorities of ICORN presented Krakow as an important and the most justified candidate that would be a perfect example for other cities in this part of Europe. During the two years of ICORN membership, Krakow hosted two writers: Marie Amelie, a writer of Russian descent, who has been deported from Norway after writing a book describing the experiences of an illegal immigrant, and Kareem Amer, an Egyptian blogger sentenced to four years in prison for criticising the government of Hosni Mubarak.

PEN International WiPC (Writers in Prison Committee of PEN International) is a specialised agenda of the oldest international organisation gathering writers and promoting human rights, established in 1921 as a response of the intellectual circles to the events of World War I. PEN International WiPC monitors the situation of writers persecuted, imprisoned, intimidated, tortured and murdered for their creative work.

The agenda was established in the 1960s as a reaction to the growth of violence against writers and journalists. It currently monitors approximately 900 cases per year. Apart from ongoing activities, PEN International WiPC also runs campaigns promoting freedom of speech and raising awareness of the threats to fundamental freedoms, primarily in both Americas, Iran, China and Turkey.

The project Literacka Małopolska is co-financed by the European Union as part of the The Malopolska Regional Operational Programme 2007-2013 ERDF.