ICORN, the International Cities of Refuge Network, has recently held a general assembly in Norway. Subject: issues surrounding persecuted journalists. Some of them are from Iraq.
“Even in their safe havens many Iraqi writers are still bitter about the ongoing war in their country. Most feel the war in Iraq could have been avoided at all cost”, our correspondent, Rhodah Mashavave, reports.
As writers continue to be prosecuted and denied freedom of expression in their home countries, some have been lucky to find refugee in cities across Europe and America.
ICORN, the International Cities of Refuge network, recently held its 3rd General Assembly in Stavanger, Norway to discuss issues surrounding persecuted journalists and related issues.
The organisation has been on the forefront of offering persecuted writers safe havens. They have continued writing and expressing themselves freely, without fear of being censored or silenced.
Most of the writers who have been very fortunate to be hosted in these are from Iraq. The war ravaging in Iraq has resulted writers becoming endangered species in their own country.
Even in their safe havens many Iraqi writers are still bitter about the ongoing war in their country. Most feel the war in Iraq could have been avoided at all cost.
“America caused the war and the misery most Iraqis face today,” said an Iraqi writer who refused to be named for security reasons.
Writers face many challenges in their host cities as they have to learn new languages and integrate in their new environments. But most have managed to make use of the time.
For example Mansur Rajih, a poet from Yemen was kept in prison for 15 years by the regime of his country. After the intervention of organisations like PEN and Amnesty, he was released and became the guest writer in Stavanger, Norway.
Rajih is now releasing his third bilingual collection of poetry from his city of refuge.
ICORN is growing each year as more countries in Europe and Americas are opening their doors to persecuted writers.
Some of the writers being hosted come from countries like Iran, Zimbabwe, Afghanistan, Cameroon, China, Cuba and list goes on.
The next ICORN General Assembly will be held in 2009 in Barcelona, Spain
By Rhodah Mashavave, recently in Norway.
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