Passa Porta aims to make a concrete contribution in the fight against the unacceptable situation of so many writers. Some 1000 writers worldwide are known to be pestered, threatened or imprisoned due to their writings. It is difficult or impossible for them to write or speak.
Passa Porta joined ICORN (International Cities of Refuge Network) in 2007, and the City of Brussels actively supports the project by making an apartment available where the guest writer can live. It presents Brussels as a hospitable, open metropolis, committed to freedom of expression and human rights. The four universities of Brussels - ULB, VUB, Université Saint Louis and HUB - are supporting the writers during their stay.
Brussels City of refuge has hosted four writers as from 2009
Arash Chakeri (b.1982, Teheran) is an Iranian singer-songwriter, poet and prose writer. His first poetry collection of ghazals, "Loneliness," was published in 2003 without permission from the Iranian Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance. For his second poetry collection "Guitar Tears" (2006), he was forced to delete a number of poems about underground political and social activism. He is a great admirer of the work of the Iranian modernist Sadegh Hedayat (Teheran, 1903 - Paris, 1951) who became famous with his widely translated novel The Blind Owl (1937). Arash Chakeri's debut novel "I Was Dead" was published in 2013 and is now only illegally available in Iran. In 2013, Chakeri published his personal song book "Your Interpreter" (2013). Chakeri has been increasingly critical towards his country's government, also calling for freedom and democracy as an activist. During the last years he has been regularly attacked, arrested and threatened. He decided to leave his country in 2015.
The controversial Moroccan author and journalist Ali Amar (born 1967 - Mohammed VI Le grand malentendu, Paris-Marrakech.) will be working in Brussels for the next two years. He was the co-founder of the first independent Moroccan newspaper Le Journal, which was to cease to exist under political and financial pressure. His book on Mohammed VI was not welcome in Morocco.
Novelist and short story writer Boris Korkmazov (1958) from the Cherkessia-Karkachay region arrived in Brussels at the start of 2011. He and his wife were living in the apartment made available by the City of Brussels. He made a number of public statements critical of Russian policies, which led him to suffer attacks in his native land and in Moscow.
Korkmazov was interviewed by RTBF in 2012 about his stay in Brussels.
Dejan Anastasijevic was the first ICORN writer in Brussels. He had to leave Belgrade due to serious threats to his life and that of his wife and child. In 1998, his articles on acts of violence against ethnic Albanians in Kosovo put him in conflict with the Milosevic regime. He fled to Vienna in April 1999, during the NATO bombing and the subsequent suppression of press freedom. There he worked for Time until 2002. He returned to Belgrade, where he witnessed the downfall of Milosevic. He was the first Serbian journalist to testify against Milosevic at the International Criminal Tribunal in The Hague. His current work principally concerns organised crime and the security situation in Serbia. He also wrote Out of War (London, 2000), a highly praisedbook on the Serbian opposition.