Saturday, August 18, 2007

Icorn: International Cities of Refuge Network

Everyone who writes and respects literature would do well to be aware of this site.


The following from their homepage.
The International Cities of Refuge Network is an association of cities and regions 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. ICORN aims to meet this challenge.

The ICORN Charter and Application Form
Cities of Refuge through History

"Cities of Asylum" and "Cities of Refuge" are both flexible terms, reaching back to ancient times.

* In ancient Hawaii, a person who had broken a taboo would be put to death unless he or she could first escape to a city of refuge for a purifying ceremony.
* In old Israel a city of refuge was a place where a person who had inadvertently killed someone was given asylum.
* 16th Century Geneva was a city of refuge for persecuted French and Italian reformers.
* During the Second World War, the small city of Chambon-sur-Lignon in France became a city of refuge for over 5,000 Jewish children and their families.

Cities of Refuge began, and still are, places born of compassion.
A New Network

In 1993, over 300 writers came together from around the globe to protest escalating assassinations of writers in Algeria. They called for an international act of solidarity with the persecuted writers. The International Parliament of Writers, the IPW, was established in Paris to address this issue, and in 1994 they established the International Network of Cities of Asylum (INCA). The cities in the Network provided persecuted writers with a safe, temporary residence and workplace.

35 cities had been involved in the network when, in 2004, the International Parliament of Writers disbanded due to funding difficulties. In the United States Russell Banks, who had been the president of the European network, along with other past-presidents (Wole Soyinka and Salman Rushdie) formally organized the Cities of Refuge North America. In Europe, representatives of cities formerly involved in INCA met with representatives from Norwegian PEN in February of 2005 to discuss the establishment of a new network, based in the city of Stavanger, Norway.

In late 2005 an agreement was made between International PEN and Sølvberget KF, Stavanger Cultural Centre. The Centre assumed financial responsibility during the establishment phase. The Executive Board appointed Helge Lunde as the Project Manager for ICORN, an international advisory group was formed and the new International Cities of Refuge Network, ICORN, had its first general assembly on June 9, 2006.

ICORN's Board of Directors is made up of the Stavanger Cultural Centre Executive Board Members, and the following Advisory Group was nominated and approved by the General Assembly:

* Chenjerai Hove, ICORN Guest Writer
* Kjell Olaf Jensen, Representative for Norwegian PEN
* Faith Liddell, International Literature and Arts Programming Director
* Peter Ripken, Director for the Society for the Promotion of African Asian and Latin American Literature
* Raffaella Salierno, Catalan PEN

Project Manager Helge Lunde met regularly in the following year (2006-7) with the Advisory Group to draft the statutes, which were approved by the General Assembly in 2007.

It was decided during the 2006 General Assembly that the ICORN Administration Centre would create a website that would facilitate the sharing of resources and information among ICORN members and disseminate the work of ICORN Guest Writers. The new website features a quarterly webzine to address the latter purpose.
The ICORN Charter and Application Form

The Charter (pdf files) in the following language at ICORN

* English
* French - Français
* Spanish - Español
* Italian - Italiano
* Chinese-


  1. I didn't know so many writers were assassinated. Yeesh! It's good they are doing something about it. I admire people who can organize and make good ideas like this real.

  2. I take it this is Mary from New Zealand--good chatting with you the other day. I was happy to see a visitor from Auckland yesterday.

    Yes, it's a dangerous world for those who do not choose to speak as faithful servants... and it seems, the more you hear the word "freedom" in the mouths of the Masters, the more dangerous they are likely to be.