By: Dr. Faiha Qasim Abdulhadi
“Let others build the walls of outdated thinking, of wrong polices. Words have the power to overcome walls, real ones and imaginary ones. Our task as writers and poets and translators is to overcome them”
Uwe Friesel/ Germany
How can poets, writers and translators turn this gloomy world into a luminous world? How can they possibly demolish the walls that isolate humans apart from creativity?
How to defeat obscurantists and intellectual obscurantism? How to defend freedom & creativity? What tools are needed for these missions?
Could writers contribute in spreading the culture of enlightenment, openness & pluralism in order to restore a sense of safety in the world, and achieve justice & peace?
The writer Uwe Friesel asserted: “Words are a dream; walls are reality, say so-called realities. But who says that dreamers do not realize reality?”
The cause of freedom, breaking barriers & interconnection between the writers of the world formed a big concern for the chairperson of Swedish Writers Union & the chairperson of German Writers’ Union.
In 1989, it was just an idea and a dream!
Afterwards poets & translators from the Baltic Sea joined them … They could see – while politicians could not – that there have always been threads connecting human beings who have similar ways of thinking together! Precisely in 1994 that dream became realizable.
They decided to start their dialogue in a free zone, and so they did not find a better choice than “cultural sailing” by organizing a cruise that embraced 400 male and female writers, poets & interpreters from 30 countries around the Baltic Sea.
The Ship set sail in 1994 towards all countries around the Baltic where there were no constraints, no deterrent laws whatsoever and no apartheid walls that may separate humans from one another … towards freedom, progression & the horizon that had no limits.
With hearts and eyes wide-open, the innovative guests listened to poetry from different languages, discussed various and still common literary topics that united them despite all the barriers and the economical & political variations among them, which eventually led to a collective cultural pledge before the end of the journey.
After landing, they continued their mission to achieve the dream. Later in cooperation with some governments that believed in their message specially the Swedish & Greek governments and with support from UNESCO this group could finally inaugurate 2 head offices for writers and translators in Rhodes and Visby, Gotland. Those two offices established rules of communication and mutual understanding between writers around the world in a way that has never existed before that date.
To celebrate the occasion of the 20th anniversary of sailing from Rhodes this year, the International Writers and Translators Center of Rhodes organized an International Conference titled: “Freedom of Expression and Censorship”, during the period from 2-5 October 2014. The Center organized this event in collaboration with The University of Aegean, and with The Three Seas Writer’s and Translator’s Council.
The papers of the conference discussed the relationship between freedom of expression and censorship around the world from historical, political, social and literary perspectives. In addition to that, they delved into the reasons behind the self-censorship that writers impose on their writings
After listening to experiences from various peoples across the world regarding freedom of expression and censorship and self-censorship, you realize that the space of freedom of expression is shrinking, while censorship and self-censorship in particular is escalating around the world in spite of the differences between countries. This phenomenon demands intensifying the efforts and struggle to state laws that allow freedom of expression in countries that still do not have such regulations, where freedom of expression is abducted. In other countries those laws and regulations should be improved and we should struggle to implement it in countries that boast of having those laws without bringing it into actions> In addition to that, we should stress on the importance of spreading the culture of enlightenment which in turn reduces the self-censorship that male and female writers impose on literary writings.
In acknowledgement of the importance of defending the rights of the writers, who formulate a better future for their societies by boosting innovation and creativity, a full session was allocated to talk about the significance of the rights of writers and following up the global updates regarding the reinforcement of this law.
In my paper titled: Human Security: And Protecting Authors’ Rights in the Arab World; I discussed the close connection between human security, and the copyright in the Arab World.
I wonder, how much security can a human being feel in this world that is dominated by militarization, tyranny and controlling people, at the expense of culture, democracy and human rights?!
United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon replies, “Human rights violations and infringement of law happen everywhere around the world, starting in Gaza, moving to Syria and Iraq, and passing through Ukraine or Central Africa, expressing his regret that the world had to go through a harrowing year according to the principles listed in the Law of the United Nations”.
If all people are born free and equal in rights and dignity, and if they are endowed with reason and conscience, will they act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood, as stated in the first article of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights?
Are there laws to deter those who violate human rights in terms of life, liberty and security of person, as guaranteed by the third article of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights?
As for the feeling of security in relation with the laws that protect innovation in the Arab World, this subject need to be discussed under a separate article.