PEN International is one of ICORN’s oldest and closest partners with a mission and activities that closely align and intersect. In particular, the ICORN Secretariat works closely with PEN International’s Writers in Prison Committee and Protection team that support the evaluation of writer and artist applications, using their regional expertise and direct access to local information and resources through more than 150 affiliated centres.
In past years, both organizations have co-hosted a joint meeting every two years bringing together all cities, residents and partners of ICORN, as well as chapters and partners of PEN International. Due to the challenges brought by the COVID-19 pandemic, a smaller virtual meeting is being organized for 2021, entitled: Digital Dystopia. The virtual meeting will be held from Thursday 20 May to Saturday 22 May, 2021.
Most sessions are for the PEN International and ICORN community only, at times merging their programme while other times holding separate sessions. The two ICORN-only sessions will focus on envisioning ICORN’s next 15 year of work and a practical workshop on how to deal with harassment and digital threats once arrived to an ICORN residency. On Friday 21 May and Saturday 21 May, there will be three panels that will be livestreamed and open to the public:
Reflections from CUBA, BELARUS, ERITREA, EGYPT, and NICARAGUA (Friday 21 May - 17:00 to 18:15) with the panelists Daniel Pedreira, Secretary of the Cuban Writers in Exile; Taciana Niadbaj, PEN Belarus Vice President, Siba Kidane, Eritrean journalist, poet, and political activist; Mina Thabet, MENA Regional Coordinator in PEN International; and Pedro X Molina, Nicaraguan political cartoonist and ICORN resident.
MYANMAR – Focus of the World (Saturday 22 May - 16:00 to 16:50) with panelists Ma Thida, member of the PEN International Board, PEN Myanmar, award-winning writer; James Byrne, poet and editor, co-editor of Bones will Crow and I am Rohingya; and Aye Lei Tin, writer and journalist.
Digital Dystopia (Saturday 22 May 17:00 to 18:15) with panelists: Matt Bailey, PEN America’s digital freedom program director; Rishi Majumder, journalist with the focus on culture and politics, based out of Mumbai and Delhi; Khalid Albaih, political cartoonist, culture activist, ICORN resident; Supriti Dhar, writer/woman activist, former ICORN resident; and Angelo (Sarge) R. Lacuesta, fictionist, writer for film, publisher, member of the Board of PEN Philippines.
The public portion will be streamed on YouTube and PEN International’s Facebook page.