Note from Executive Director, Laura McVeigh, on PEN International Ural-Altay Solidarity Network meeting in Bishkek


Note from Executive Director, Laura McVeigh, on PEN International Ural-Altay Solidarity Network meeting in Bishkek

I’ve just returned to the international secretariat from Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan having attended the 5th conference of the PEN International Ural Altay Solidarity Network with over 50 PEN colleagues from Turkey PEN, Basque PEN, Uighur PEN, Japan PEN, Finnish PEN and Central Asia PEN.

International Secretary Hori Takeaki was present and Emese Kovacs, Programmes Officer from the secretariat also participated. The meeting, coordinated by Kaiser OzHun and Dalmira Tilepbergenova, was a wonderful opportunity for members to discuss the themes of language, freedom of expression and literature. We shared ideas on many of the creative programmes and projects already underway – including discussion of a translation school, a focus on creating children’s literature, and education programmes for children and young people.

We talked about ways in which we can all work together to help strengthen and promote this activity. The network embraces so many different cultures, geographies and languages and this was reflected in the vibrant debates. It shows the importance of events like these – opportunities for PEN members to meet together, to share experiences and to foster stronger cultural awareness. The programme included a wonderful cultural and literary evening where members gave readings from their work.

The visit also provided the opportunity to explore the possibility of a future PEN Congress in Bishkek, a fascinating and welcoming location. Many participants stayed on to join the Human Rights Summer School – this initiative coordinated by Dalmira brings together over 30 students with human rights experts in a three day long summer school. Hori Takeaki and staff member Emese Kovacs joined the group at Issyk Kul this week.