International cities of refuge


Source: internationalpaper.com

Source: internationalpaper.com

You may never have heard of ICORN (International Cities of Refuge Network), but it has a very noble purpose:

“ICORN Cities offer persecuted writers a safe haven where they can live and work without fear of being censored or silenced.”

Source: eurozine.com

Source: eurozine.com

The network operates as follows:

“The International Cities of Refuge Network is an association of cities around the world dedicated to the value of Freedom of Expression. Writers have consistently been targets of politically motivated threats and persecution, and the network believes it is necessary for the international community to formulate and implement an appropriate response.”

“Each ICORN city focuses on one writer at a time, each writer representing the countless others in hiding, in prison or silenced forever. By providing a Guest Writer with a safe place to stay and economic security for a standard term of two years, ICORN cities make an important, practical contribution to the promotion of Freedom of Expression.”

To qualify for ICORN refugee status:

“A. The applicant must be a writer. The term ‘writer’ is to include novelists, non-fiction writers, playwrights, poets, editors, translators, publishers, journalists and cartoonists.

B. The applicant must be either:”

  1. “At risk as a direct consequence of his/her writing—whether the writer is in danger of being killed, abducted, physically attacked or “disappearing”. In a case where a writer is threatened with any of the above, an appraisal as to likelihood of such a threat being carried out will be made on an individual case/country basis by the Writers in Prison Committee of International PEN.”
  2. “Sentenced to (or at risk of being sentenced to) a prison term by the authorities in his/her country as a direct consequence of his/her writing. (This excludes cases in which writers have been charged or are at risk of being charged with inciting hatred or violence through their writing unless it can be ascertained that the charges against them have been fabricated.)”
  3. “Unable to express themselves freely through his/her writing for fear of persecution due to the probable actions of the government or other non-government entities of the country in which he/she habitually resides. In such cases the writer may be able to return to his/her own country after a period of working freely abroad.”

“ICORN’s decisions regarding which writers will be taken into the network will be based on information from the Writers in Prison Committee of International PEN. The Writers in Prison Committee will make an evaluation regarding the authenticity of the declared danger to the individual writer and/or provide an informed assessment of the likelihood that any threatened persecution will be carried out.”

At the end of this post is a list of those cities which are either hosting a writer now, or have committed to receiving a writer within the next year. Sadly, only one American city, Miami, in our self-declared land of the free, is a current participant in ICORN. In addition, there are no ICORN cities located in Africa, Asia, Oceania, or South America. Those are abysmal statistics for it nearly being 2014.

Below of those countries that contain more than one ICORN city:

  • Norway = 12
  • Sweden = 9
  • Denmark = 4
  • Italy = 3
  • Spain = 3
  • Mexico = 2
  • The Netherlands = 2

Congratulations to each participating city and especially to those nations with multiple participants. More cities and nations should seriously consider becoming a part of this important network. Here is the complete list of cities:

  • Amsterdam, The Netherlands
  • Århus, Denmark
  • Barcelona, Spain
  • Bergen, Norway
  • Brussels, Belgium
  • Bø, Norway
  • Chiusi and the Region of Toscana, Italy
  • Copenhagen, Denmark
  • Drøbak, Norway
  • Fanø, Denmark
  • Frankfurt, Germany
  • Girona, Spain
  • Gothenburg, Sweden
  • Hannover, Germany
  • Haugesund, Norway
  • Jönköping, Sweden
  • Krakow, Poland
  • Kristiansand, Norway
  • Lillehammer, Norway
  • Ljubljana, Slovenia
  • Malmö, Sweden
  • Mexico City, Mexico (2)
  • Miami, USA
  • Molde, Norway
  • Norwich, United Kingdom
  • Odense, Denmark
  • Oslo, Norway
  • Palma de Mallorca, Spain
  • Paris, France
  • Potenza, Italy
  • Reykjavik , Iceland
  • Sigtuna , Sweden
  • Skien, Norway
  • Skelleftea, Sweden
  • Skåne, Sweden
  • Stavanger, Norway
  • Stockholm , Sweden
  • Tilburg, The Netherlands
  • Tromsø, Norway
  • Trondheim, Norway
  • Tuscany, Italy
  • Uppsala, Sweden
  • Växjö, Sweden
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