3 May 2012
Tomorrow a new anthology will be launched in Tunis to honour the writers, activists and photographers who contributed to the struggle for free expression in Tunisia and continue that struggle since last year’s revolution. Fleeting Words: An Anthology of Revolution brings together journalistic articles, commentaries, prose and verse in Arabic written both during the Ben Ali regime and since its fall, and is illustrated with images of the revolution. Edited by Naziha Rjiba (‘Om Ziad’), President of PEN Tunisia and published in cooperation with PEN Tunisia and Atlas Publications, the anthology is part of the ongoing International Freedom of Expression Tunisia Monitoring Group (IFEX-TMG) project, supported by the European Union and Oxfam Novib.
The writers published in this anthology have been major focuses for PEN campaigns over the years. PEN has been closely involved with IFEX-TMG which was founded in 2004 ahead of the World Summit on the Information Society in Tunisia with the aim of supporting free expression activists in the country. In his introductory note to the anthology, Ghias Al-Jundi, PEN International researcher and IFEX-TMG Advocacy Officer writes, ‘The idea of this anthology ripened with the success of the Tunisian revolution as an acknowledgement of the writers’ and poets’ efforts and struggles for the free word, and a free Tunis. This anthology also hopes to emphasise to the next generation what these writers have put forth.’
One example of the courageous writing which is showcased in Fleeting Words is Nashaz (Dissonance) by anthology editor Naziha Rjiba. Published in 1988 less than two months after Ben Ali’s succession, Nashaz demonstrates the boldness which won Rjiba the Committee to Protect Journalists’ International Press Freedom Award and has established her as one of Tunisia’s leading freedom of expression activists. She writes:
‘I felt faint, struck by a dreamer’s dizziness and I took solace in my writing. We friends of the mad take solace in our pens, and mourn with our pens and laugh with our pens, and we love our pens and hate our pens.’
Fleeting Words sets a precedent for future collaborative publications for PEN International and marks the beginning of an exciting new venture which will help bring the ‘solace of the pen’ to many more.
Fleeting Words is published in Arabic. French and English translations will be available in early June. Tomorrow’s launch takes place in Tunis, where UNESCO is hosting a series of events to mark World Press Freedom Day (3 May). For more information or to purchase a copy of Fleeting Words contact firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.
To learn more about World Press Freedom Day visit the UNESCO site here.
For a message from Marian Botsford Fraser, Chairpeson of the Writers in Prison Committee, about World Press Freedom Day, see here.