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PEN International Writers in Prison Committee Conference - 24-27 March 2011

PEN International Event

PEN International Writers in Prison Committee Conference - 24-27 March 2011

Dear Writers in Prison Committees,

As we wrote to you last month, the Writers in Prison Committee has kindly been invited by Belgian PEN (Dutch speaking) to have our 2011 conference in Brussels 24 to 27 March. The WiPC conference will be held as part of a larger event, the biennial Passa Portaliterary festival, in conjunction with meetings of two other organizations, ICORN (the cities of exile network well known to us at the WiPC as longstanding partners) and HALMA, the European network of literary centres. The overall theme of the Passa Porta festival is On the Move.

We are now ready to take registrations and you will find attached:

Please return the registration form and payment as soon as you can, if possible before the 19 February deadline.

A more detailed agenda will follow and ideas are still welcome.

In our preliminary letter we raised the following about sessions and workshops, a focus on the European Union, and a note on registration fees and costs which are repeated below. Please do not hesitate to contact Sara Whyatt if you have any questions or ideas.

Sessions and Workshops

Over the three days, we will have both joint sessions and workshops, and specifically WiPC sessions, about nine hours of the latter, for which we welcome your ideas for discussion, or workshop proposals. Some suggestions we are already considering include a session called Beyond Wikileaks,Swedish PEN Centre’s exciting new ‘Dissident’s Blog’ project, the idea raised in Tokyo to set up a European Network,and furthering our collaboration with ICORN. We'll also do a wrap-up of the 50th anniversary, in which so many centres participated.

This is a very good opportunity for the WiPC to explore way of working with the European Union on our concerns. The European Union has a long history of involvement in global human rights issues, specifically through the European Initiative for Democracy and Human Rights (EIDHR). We intend to invite EU freedom of expression specialists to the meetings, as both speakers and observers, and we will also take the opportunity of being in Brussels to raise specific cases with the EU. In the past year, we have met with the EU on our concerns in both Tunisia and Eritrea and we will follow up on those and other concerns. We plan to hold meetings with key EU officials on Thursday 24 March, the day before the conference starts, and we will be inviting specific centres to join us if possible. More on this to follow shortly.

Registration Fee and other Costs

As always, there are challenges in funding the conference, and participants are required to pay a registration fee, and to cover their own travel and hotel costs. Because of the collaboration with Passa Porta and other organizations, the registration fee is only €150 which covers meals and congress costs. The festival has found hotel partners to ensure a range of accommodation choices. Participants will cover the costs of their accommodation and flights.

As you know, this has been a challenging year financially for PEN International, and financial and staffing resources in the London office are stretched. As a result, we are very sorry that, to date we are unable to provide any assistance to centres, to enable delegates to come from distant centres. We are still exploring this possibility, but at time of writing we do not have any such funding.

We look forward to seeing as many as possible of you in Brussels in March.

Marian Botsford Fraser, WiPC Chair

Sara Whyatt, Programme Director

PEN International
Brownlow House
50-51 High Holborn
London WC1V 6ER

Tel: + 44 (0) 20 7405 0338
Fax: + 44 (0) 20 7405 0339

Skype: sara.whyatt


International PEN is a UK Registered Charity No. 1117088 and a Company Registered in England No. 05683997, Registered Office: Brownlow House, 50/51High Holborn, London WC1V 6ER

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