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Writers, journalists and bloggers meet in Krakow

HUMAN rights and the meaning of freedom of speech in central and eastern Europe and beyond are being debated at an international conference held by ICORN and PEN International WiPC taking place in Krakow between May 14 and May 17, the Villa Decius Association, a non-governmental cultural organisation based in Krakow, informed The Slovak Spectator.

HUMAN rights and the meaning of freedom of speech in central and eastern Europe and beyond are being debated at an international conference held by ICORN and PEN International WiPC taking place in Krakow between May 14 and May 17, the Villa Decius Association, a non-governmental cultural organisation based in Krakow, informed The Slovak Spectator.

The two international institutions, which bring together writers from across the globe and champion human rights, invited almost 200 delegates from 50 countries to take part in the Writing Freedom Conference, attests to the fact that Václav Havel’s words, expressed in his essay Power of the Powerless, are still valid today.

Conference participants include representatives of some of the leading institutions in the world dealing with freedom of speech and expression. Almost 200 experts registered for the meeting in Krakow. Delegates include writers, poets, journalists and bloggers, who were forced to leave their homelands because of their creative work. Among them are 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 at the opening of the conference, Free Speech in a Crowded World, was delivered by Timothy Garton Ash, a professor at Oxford University. 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) will discuss the consequences of the Arab Spring for freedom of speech in North African countries. Kareem Amer was the first blogger to be sentenced to prison for his critical view of former president 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.

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

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