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PEN International celebrates International Day of Peace 21 September 2011

‘There can be no freedom without peace, nor peace without freedom’

Today is International Day of Peace, officially recognised by the United Nations and identified as a global day of ceasefire.

Peace-building is at the heart of PEN International’s work celebrating literature and promoting freedom of expression. Connecting a global community of writers, PEN demonstrates how literature can overcome cultural, linguistic, ethnic, social, and political conflicts and provide a democratic forum for dialogue. ‘Now more than ever it is crucial to raise global awareness of the need for peace and constructive dialogue’, said Laura McVeigh, Executive Director of PEN International.

PEN’s Writers for Peace Committee pioneers this aspect of PEN’s work. Established in 1984 in response to the difficulties posed to cultural collaboration during the Cold War years, the Committee’s work to provide a platform for intercultural and literary dialogue is just as relevant today. Within the last week, at PEN’s annual congress, the Writers for Peace Committee called on ETA and the Spanish Government to build on the current ceasefire in the Basque region and secure lasting peace; it advocated for a nonviolent solution to on-going conflict in Kurdish regions of Turkey, Syria and Iraq; and the Committee joined PEN’s global membership to again urge the Chinese authorities to release Liu Xiaobo, 2010 Nobel Peace Laureate.

Edvard Kovak, Chair of the Writers for Peace Committee, commented: “On International Day of Peace, PEN remembers the Writers for Peace Committee’s founding principle, ‘There can be no freedom without peace, nor peace without freedom.'”

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