A REFUGE FOR PERSECUTED WRITERS
Published on Sunday, 15 March 2015 15:38
By Oaxaca Times
Oaxaca, 22 January - A House of Refuge for persecuted writers was opened on Wednesday Narch 11 in the city of Oaxaca. It will function as a safe house for writers from all over the world who have been threatened by their own governments, due to the ideals and politics they have promulgated within their writings. It is only the second refuge of its kind in Mexico and for that matter, all of Latin America. It is only the 50th such house in all world; the newest edition to a network of houses whose main goals are to preserve freedom of speech and protect human rights. As part of the International Shelter House Network, the house will receive support from The Secretary of Culture and Arts of Oaxaca (SECULTA), The International Book Fair (FILO), The National Council for Culture and Arts (CONACULTA), Alfredo Harp Helu Foundation, and the Center for the Arts in San Agustín (CaSa).
In this event held at the Graphic Arts Institute of Oaxaca, Commissioner of Human Rights of Oaxaca government, Eréndira Cruzvillegas said that “freedom of expression is a fundamental issue in any democracy.”
She also noted that any country or deemed democratic state must protect that democracy by exercising their right to freedom of expression through the printed word. These sentiments were echoed by the executive director of Shelter Cities (ICORN), Helge Lunde. Executive Director Lunde said that “in order to confront the intolerance of ideas, in today's world we must protect and guarantee freedom of Speech. In ICORN, I believe that every city shelter can make an enormous difference to protect threatened writers and guarantee not only their right to disseminate their ideas, but the right to life".
At the same ceremony, Guillermo Quijas Corzo, president of the International Book Fair, mentioned that the project was born three years ago, thanks to the invaluable support of the master Francisco Toledo. He said "Oaxaca and its people, with their hospitality and support, undoubtedly know how to make this space a real home for the persecuted writers". Francisco Martinez Neri, Secretary of Culture in Oaxaca, said that “Mexico has historically been characterized by providing asylum to anyone who deserves it, and needs it.
With the opening of this space, Oaxaca stands at the forefront as a guarantor state of freedom of expression and human rights, becoming an example which we hope will be replicated in other cities in Mexico".
Once a writer is accepted into the refuge house, they will be hosted by the Artistic Society of Oaxaca. They will become part of a two year program, during which time they will receive Spanish language classes, and they will participate in writing workshops and organized talks, specifically designed to assist them in continuing their work, and further developing their ideas within a safe environment.