PEN Welcomes the Words of Migrants and Asylum Seekers

The Nordic PEN Centres are convinced that our societies benefit from all voices being heard. Furthermore, we are concerned that the freedom of expression of migrants and asylum seekers is not being safeguarded by the governments of the Nordic Countries.

The voices of migrants and asylum seekers need to be heard within public discourse. The expertise of migrants and asylum seekers is frequently disregarded, and their perspective is rarely included in public debate. Nordic societies should listen and learn from migrants and asylum seekers.

Many migrants and asylum seekers feel afraid to speak to the media out of fear for their pending immigration cases being rejected. The governments should make it clear through statements and policy that they value freedom of expression and protect the free speech rights of migrants and asylum seekers.

Furthermore, it should be made simpler and easier for migrants and asylum seekers to respond to all kinds of speech, including hate speech. Migrants and asylum seekers should have easy access to non-biased translation, interpretation, and the use of interlanguages.

What PEN can do?
The Nordic PEN Centres will make voices of migrants and asylum seekers heard through events and publications, and encourage migrants and asylum seekers to take part in public discourse. We will welcome migrant and asylum seeking writers and journalists into our organization, and translate and interpret their words. Our network of dissident writers in residence can help in this issue.

The Nordic PEN Centres gathered in Helsinki on September 8th 2016 and made this resolution.

Finnish PEN
Estonian PEN
Danish PEN
Icelandic PEN
Norwegian PEN
Swedish PEN