Letter from Bled, Report on Pen’s 45th International Writers Meeting


Report on Pen’s 45th International Writers Meeting

Pen’s 45th International Writers Meeting was held at Bled from 8 to 12 May 2013. Delegates representing 34 centres from across the world attended.  The delegates were welcomed by Dr Uros Grilc, the Slovenian minister for culture.  Subsequently they were entertained by a presentation of the culture and literary traditions of the central region of Slovenia.

The first theme discussed was ‘Literary Creation, from the Periphery to the Centre’. It was recognised that in terms of ideology this was a basic dynamic in society.  Each Periphery gradually draws nearer to the Centre, eventually replacing it and prompting the process to repeat itself. 

The second topic was the writer as a traveller creating peace. This resonated with the delegates. Clearly travel enables people to get beyond viewing other peoples in terms of their stereotypes.  It also provides an opportunity to appreciate the cultural roots and riches of those residing in different parts of the world.  The result is a genuine respect and regard for the otherness in peoples.There was unanimity that extending boundaries in this way is a creator of peace both within and without.

The Pen Declaration on Digital Freedom passed at the International Congress in Gyeongju, Korea, in 2012 was discussed.  Four articles were appended to it to clarify how it would affect the Targeting of individuals, Censorship, Surveillance and Business and Human Rights.

The agenda of the General Assembly of the Writers for Peace Committee of International Pen included: Situation in Asia (China) (a) Tibet and (b) Uyghars; Peace in the Middle East and the Mediterranean (a) Israelo-Palestinian Relations, (b) Turkey (c) Question of Kurds.  Reports indicated the complex issues inherent in the troubles in those areas.  It was surprising how little attention was given to the extraordinary role of Israel and its ally the US in the continuing difficulties in the Middle East.  The interference of outside powers and the Anglo-American propaganda which fomented and maintains the tragic civil war in Syria also received little attention.

The Pen International Women Writers Committee reported that in some parts of the world there had been progress towards women achieving their full human rights but that a long road in that direction had yet to be travelled by the Sisters.

J. Anthony Gaughan

Timothy Conway

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