Emese Kovacs, International Programmes Officer, on the Central Asian PEN Human Rights Summer School :


The third Central Asian Human rights summer school took place at the beautiful Issyk Kul lake in Kyrgyzstan 22-25 July. Central Asia PEN, led by Dalmira Tilepbergenova, has organised the human rights summer school every year since 2011 with the aim to bring together students, teachers and NGO representatives from Central Asia to discuss the theory and practice of human rights.
A group of PEN colleagues, including PEN International Secretary, Hori Takeaki, colleagues from Uighur PEN, PEN Turkey, PEN Japan and myself visited this year’s summer school after the Ural-Altay Solidarity Network meeting in Bishkek. We spent three days with a group of young Central Asian students discussing human rights, which was a wonderful experience for all of us.

The summer school sessions and debates covered creative writing and different aspects of human rights from women’s rights to linguistic rights and freedom of expression in Central Asia. The sessions included role plays, debates, poetry reading, singing and even dancing and it was great to see how eagerly the students immersed themselves in the summer school activities. In particular the discussions on issues affecting young people in Central Asia today were very lively. Students shared their experiences and thoughts on current challenges to women’s rights, preserving minority languages in a globalised world and the ability to express ideas freely.

The summer school further confirmed how important it is for PEN to be engaged with young people and create programmes through which we can connect and exchange ideas. On the occasion of the International Youth Day, celebrated every year on 12 August, PEN International is planning to highlight the youth programme work PEN Centres are carrying out around the world. We have already started to introduce some of the PEN youth and education programmes here and would be delighted to hear and give news about more PEN programmes and initiatives in this field.

If you have any questions or comments on the PEN International programmes, please, do not hesitate to contact me through the Emese.Kovacs@pen-international.org email address.