To kick off this series, and to present the work ICORN does to protect writers, Elizabeth Hoover has interviewed Executive Director Helge Lunde. Sampsonia Way, the web magazine, is intended to provide the same shelter for writers and writing as Sampsonia Way, a Pittsburgh street lined with writer residences. Each defends free speech by protecting the people who actually do the writing and speaking. The homes provide shelter for writers; the magazine provides shelter for their work. We are happy to present an excerpt of the first interview in the series here at icorn.org, and look forward to following future articles.
Protecting Freedom of Expression
Interview with ICORN's Helge Lunde
Since 2005, the International Cities of Refuge Network has been aiding writers in danger by providing them with safe places to live and material support. ICORN is an association of cities around the world who share a common mission: to preserve freedom of expression and to respond to politically motivated threats and persecution writers face in their home countries.
Sampsonia Way is pleased to present a series of interviews with writers from all over the world who have participated in ICORN. By way of introduction we present this interview with ICORN Executive Director, Helge Lunde. Here he tells the story of ICORN's founding, how it has provided support for persecuted writers, and what inspires him to do this work.
What inspired the formation of ICORN and how did the organization come about?
The idea to create a network of cities to shelter writers in danger came out of the International Parliament of Writers (IPW). IPW was established in 1993 at the initiative of Salmon Rushdie. It was, in part, in response to a series of assassinations of Algerian writers. Starting in 1995, they began recruiting cities to join their International Network of Cities of Asylum (INCA). I think Barcelona was the first INCA member city, while my city, Stavanger, Norway, joined in 1996. Soon lots of other cities followed, and the network also spread to the United States.
Around 2000, IPW and INCA were struggling with considerable administrative challenges. In 2004 the IPW ceased to exist, and in 2005 INCA was formally disbanded.
The remaining question for all the cities and organizations involved was of course: Does the collapse of INCA mean that any organized work of this kind is in vain, or shall we join forces, learn from the failures and successes of the past, and start anew? Luckily the latter alternative was chosen, and I think we can already claim that it was the right choice to make.
The ICORN Administration center was established in Stavanger in December 2005.
To continue reading the full interview, go here .