The need for critical thinking during wartimes is now necessary more than ever. Our time on earth can be characterized as one of alienation, solitude and stressed, sorrowful individualism. Seeing the war in Ukraine through our own experiences, we fear it will be the first page of a new era. Our world seems more uncertain and more perilous than ever.
As prosaists and poets, we distinctly stand against the war. Right from the beginning, we stand against the invasion of Ukraine by the Russian army, we stand against militarism and chauvinism, against any disastrous form of jingoism under false pretences and fascism, whatever their origins are.
As writers we stand against any kind and form of censorship, prohibition of written or oral speech, destruction or banning of cultural pieces of literature, in every place of the world and on every fighting side. Prohibition and banning of literary and cultural pieces of art cannot constitute any form of boycott on the part of the Western nations, and the prohibition of Russian Art and literature cannot be used as a means of punishment of an entire nation. War bears censorship.
Prose, poetry, critical essays are all means of comprehension, reconciliation and empowerment, means of mindfulness and liberation, tools of education and enlightenment, a reason to contemplate and not the cause of the problem. Societies cannot be rendered as passive masses of toddlers, incapable of forming a sensible opinion and governments should not arbitrarily decide to protect us from art works of fellow people.
War and international conflict reveal the nastiest face of humanity and autocracy. War bears censorship and censorship is primarily deprivation of freedom – not only to the censored writers but to the readers overall.
Exclusions imprison the spirit and the body of a writer. It is sad to hear of prohibitions of books and exclusion of books and publishers in literary festivals, to hear of writers being extorted to a public declaration of political standing in order to be heard, to hear of writers forbidden to write their intake in their novels, to hear of journalists imprisoned for challenging the authorities’ truth. On every side of a warzone, the first victims will always be those who think and speak freely.
Writers must be supported to have our own free voice. No one can deprive us of our love for books, writing and reading.
We stand by every prosaist, poet, journalist, every person of art and literature, every advocate of oral or written speech in Russia and Ukraine who experiences one of the most atrocious experiences in life: being in a warzone.
We support everyone who tries to write, speak, translate, work and create as a foreperson in the world of books. We fight for a world where everyone can find freedom of speech enjoying personal safety and without any threats jeopardizing his life or freedom. We demand multisided and multivoiced information.
Our statement overrules censorship on every side of a war. No nation, no national art and literature, no artists can be demonized merely based on ethnicity. Our goal is to strive for peace and freedom of speech.
Free, unprohibited writing, publication and circulation of books is the humanistic mission of literature. It is an effort to better comprehend our world, our being, our relationships, and the necessity of justice, love and freedom.
The Writers in Prison Committee (WiPC) of PEN Greece
Cases of cencorship