12 March 2003


New freedom of expression centre to open in Stavanger

(PEN/IFEX) - The following is a Norwegian PEN press release:

Xpress - the new Stavanger Center for Cities of Asylum

On March 14, the Norwegian city of Stavanger is once again promoting the importance of Freedom of Expression through the launching of Xpress, the Norwegian center for FOE and the cities of asylum.

Stavanger became the first Norwegian City of Asylum in 1995. Since 1997, the city has been a member of the international "Cities of Asylum-network" organized by the International Parliament of Writers (IPW). This work will become the basis of the new center, which has been funded by, among others, the Norwegian institution Fritt Ord.

Both the present (Islam Elsanov) and former visiting writers (Mansur Rajih, Mansour Koushan) represent a unique resource and have contributed by building cultural bridges between the city of Stavanger, Norwegian writers and the general public and Arabic, Persian and Russian/Caucasian culture and language. The new center will continue and further develop this work. Another challenge for the center will be to inspire and help future visiting writers to use their newly acquired freedom of expression in a Norwegian cultural context, through poetry, novels and short-stories, as well as films and theatre.

In close cooperation with Norwegian PEN, Amnesty Norway, Worldview Rights, The Norwegian Helsinki Commitee, Index on Censorship and IPW, the center will monitor freedom of expression both locally, nationally and internationally.

At the opening seminar on March 14., Russian journalist Anna Politkovskaya will lecture on FOE in Russia and there will also be a speech by visiting writer Islam Elsanov and a panel discussion on tolerance, racism and the borders of free expression chaired by Norwegian PEN president Kjell Olaf Jensen.

Oslo, 12 March 2003


Norwegian PEN
Wergelandsveien 29
0167 Oslo
pen (@) norskpen.no
Fax:+47 22 60 74 51
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