Oslo 10 og 11.06: Stor konferanse knyttet til stemmerettsjubileet

Women’s Suffrage – Women’s Voices; Oslo 10 and 11 June 2013

On the occasion of the 100th anniversary of Women’s right to vote we hereby invite you to take part in a two-day seminar in Oslo, Norway.

Venue: Oslo House of Literature, Amalie Skram room (Skram is one of the most famous female authors in Norway)

Organizers: Department of Journalism and Media Studies, HiOA and Norwegian PEN.  The conference is open for all.

MONDAY 10th of June:

0900 – 0930: Opening: Vice Chancellor Kari Toverud Jensen, Oslo and Akershus University College (HiOA), Elisabeth Eide, Professor (HiOA)

0930 – 1100: First session: Main obstacles to fair media coverage of women in the participant countries.
Speakers: Nadire Mater from Turkey, Gitiara Nasreen from  Bangladesh, Bushra Rahman from Pakistan, Billy Sarwono from Indonesia, Atidel Mejberi from Tunisia and Zeynep Oral from Turkey.  Moderator: Kristin Skare Orgeret.

1100 – 1130: Tea/Coffee

1130 – 1230: Second session: Covering the Arab Spring. Consequences for women.
Speakers from participating countries: Abeer Saady from Egypt and Hamida El Bour from Tunisia. Comments from former Middle East correspondent from Norway, Sisseld Wold.

1230 – 1330: Lunch

1330 – 1500: Women journalists – male editors – still a challenge?
Marte Michelet, Dagbladet. Speakers from participating countries: Martha Silaban from Indonesia,Akthar Sultana from Bangladesh and Qurratul-ain Tahmina from Bangladesh.

1500 – 1515: Tea/coffee

1515 – 1630: Examples of good practices in gender representation.
Speakers: Experienced reporter from Norwegian Public Broadcasting, Astrid Randen, Norway.Amal Wahab, Norway/Egypt, Nadire Mater, Turkey, Oni Sarwono, Indonesia

TUESDAY 11 June
1000 – 1130: Reporting on women – women reporters: social and judicial challenges.
Speakers from participating countries: Reema Abbasi from Pakistan and Quhrmaana Kakar from Afghanistan. Moderator: Elisabeth Eide.

Parliament (for international guests only):
1200 – 1330: Lunch and guided tour at the Parliament.

At the House of Literature, Open for all:
1400 – 1530: Social Media: women’s participation and mobilization – and a source of harassment.
Speakers from participant countries: Lina Ben Mhenni (“Tunisian Girl” blogger) from Tunisia;Beathe Due, Independent researcher

1530 – 1700: Conclusive remarks and further networking

Nå kan du se opptak fra Hviterusslandkonferansen på nett

Aksjon Hviterussland

Litteraturhuset, Oslo
Torsdag 22 mars 2012, 08.30 – 16.00

Del 1
William Nygaards åpningstale
Generalsekretær i Europarådet,Thorbjørn Jagland – keynote speech
Fire stemmer fra Hviterussland:
Adam Globus

Tatsiana Reviaka
Natallia Radzina
Yuri Zisser
Andres Herkel
, Europarådet – internasjonale utfordringer

Del 2
Per Dalgård – ordstyrer
Statssekretær Torgeir Larsen – regjeringens perspektiv
Andrej Kim – blogger og aktivist
Peter S. Gitmark (H) – stortinget og opposisjonen
Spørsmål fra salen
Anna Gerasimova, direktør for MR-huset i eksil i Vilnius – MR-perspektivet
Stortingsrepresentant Morten Høglund (Frp), nestleder for den norske OSSE-delegasjonen – fra et OSSE-perspektiv

Del 3
Ales Mihalevich, uavhengig presidentkadidat i 2010 – introduksjon til penaeldebatten
Veien videre – en paneldebatt
Generalsekretær Bjørn Engesland, Helsingforskomiteen – oppsummering og takk

Sjette Writers in Prison Committee konferanse

International PEN Writers in Prison Committee meets in Istanbul. Challenges Insult Laws

 

Over 50 writers, editors and publishers from 23 countries gathered in Istanbul this week for the 6th Writers in Prison Committee conference of International PEN, the worldwide association of writers. At meetings focusing on PEN’s global program, the members planned the launch of a campaign against insult and criminal defamation laws under which writers and journalists are imprisoned worldwide, including under Article 301 in Turkey.

Other key issues discussed included the recent uproar over Danish cartoons, impunity, the role of internet service providers in offering information on writers, especially in China, and the pressure by the Russian government on Russian PEN.

Hosted by the Turkish Centre of International PEN March 2-4, 2006, the PEN Conference also featured a panel on «Freedom of Expression in Turkey Today» with Fatih Tas, owner of Aram Publishing House, Oya Aydin, attorney, Ismet Berkan, editor-in-chief of Radikal and Fikret Ilkiz, attorney.

Despite the recent dismissal of the case against novelist Orhan Pamuk and the progress noted in Turkey, where no writer is currently in prison, PEN members expressed concern about the large number of trials against writers and journalists accused of «insult.»

At the conference the delegates also confirmed action on behalf of the seven editors who have been detained in Algeria, Jordan, and Yemen for republishing the cartoons originally published in a Danish newspaper depicting the Prophet Mohammed. Members confirmed their commitment to work for mutual respect among peoples, at the same time insisting on the principle of freedom of expression and denouncing violence as a censor.

The conference brought colleagues from around the world together who work on cases of writers imprisoned, threatened and sometimes killed because of their writing. PEN records over 1000 cases worldwide and works actively on 150-200 of these cases.

«What is important about International PEN is that it links authors, editors and publishers from all over the world in debates and discussions which lead to a better understanding of each other. We are all worrying that the situation for freedom of expression is getting worse globally so we need solidarity now more than ever,» said Muge Sokmen, Chair of the Writers in Prison Committee for Turkish PEN.

«One of the greatest values of International PEN’s Writers in Prison Committee is to provide a framework to discuss issues, to come to solutions, and to leave room for various points of view without compromising our first and foremost goal of promoting freedom of expression,» said Karin Clark, Chair of International PEN’s Writers in Prison Committee.

«PEN was founded on the principles of tolerance, respect among people, and  the free transmission of ideas, even those that may offend. Freedom of expression is the foundation of free societies,» said Joanne Leedom-Ackerman, International Secretary of International PEN.

***

International PEN and the Writers in Prison Committee

International PEN, the worldwide association of writers with 141 Centres in 99 Countries, exists to promote friendship and intellectual co-operation among writers everywhere, to fight for freedom of expression and represent the conscience of world literature.

The Writers in Prison Committee works on behalf of persecuted writers worldwide and monitors the cases of writers who have been imprisoned, tortured, threatened, attacked and killed for the peaceful practice of their professions. The WiPC campaigns to end these attacks and oppose suppression of freedom of expression wherever it occurs.

For a selection of statements from PEN Centres on the Danish cartoons issue please visit http://www.pen.org/page.php/prmID/1204

Snapshots from Bishkek

… And Down Will Come Baby, Cradle and All:

Snapshots from Bishkek and the Central Asian Women Writer’s Conference

June 24-28, 2005

by Ren Powell
In the marketplace the old women sit with their baskets of raspberries. A cardboard box full of chicks for sale. Kyrgyz newspapers and Russian bodice-ripper paperbacks. Plastic shoes, polyester bras, thongs and T-shirts made in China. Round loaves of bread and burlap bags filled with spices. A young woman in jeans is washing glasses in a bucket filled with soapy water. On a card table next to her are two bright blue coolers filled with Tan and Shoro. These coolers are ubiquitous on Bishkek’s street corners, and Samat, a private English teacher who has agreed to be my guide while I wander through his city, insists on buying me a glass of each.  Shoro is a thick, grain-based drink that you can buy with or without carbonation. Even without carbonation, the slightly fermented barley packs a bitter punch. «Full of vitamins,» says Samat. Yeah, it tastes good for you. Tan is made of milk and supposedly cures hangovers. The same bite of fermentation. I drain both glasses so as not to offend, but they leave me feeling bloated, as though I’d eaten a huge meal. Since Kyrgyzstan’s current unemployment rate is near 51%[1], I wonder if these drinks aren’t meals for many of the locals.

Five days is a short time to begin to form an image of a country and its people; there is what I can observe and there is what I am told. But even two women who live on the same street will have different views of their own culture, and most people anywhere in the world will make a statement about their country at noon only to contradict themselves a dozen times before midnight. With that said:

Through a Wide Angle Lens
In late February, when I first began making plans to come to Kyrgyzstan to take part in a conference of women writers sponsored by PEN International, everyone I talked to asked, «Where?»—but after the 24th of March, most of my colleagues had heard of the poor, former Soviet country in turmoil. The Spring Revolution made headlines even in Norway. Encouraged by the revolutions in the Ukraine and Georgia, thousands of people had traveled from the south of Kyrgyzstan to Bishkek in order to support Bakiyev in overthrowing President Akaev. Not a shot was fired in the capital city, but the hungry and homeless crowd rioted: fists, sticks and rocks. Store fronts were shattered and shops were looted. Even now, in June, some of the windows around the Kyrgyz «White House» and the town square of Ala-Too are still boarded with plywood.  According to Samat, most of Bakiyev’s supporters have remained in Bishkek. Maybe these are the men I see everywhere in parked cars midday, sleeping in the backseats or squatting on the ground around the Ladas and Moscowvitches, smoking and talking. Our taxi passes the land management building where whole families are gathered on the lawn, waiting, hoping to be given a parcel of land. Most of these people probably arrived in March, although internal migration has been on the rise in the country for some time now.

Bishkek itself, a city of 1 million, appears to me like a favored child once decked out in braids and ribbons let run wild. In most areas birch saplings spread unchecked and weeds have pushed through the concrete and asphalt. Along the main road to Manas Airport cattle and donkeys occasionally meander across the four lanes. The country gained its independence in 1991, ratifying its constitution in 1993. The Kyrgyz struggle for economic and social stability hasn’t been easy and after the Spring Revolution many of the programs set into motion by President Akaev have been abandoned.

Samat points out one of the old libraries, now rented out as office space. Across the street is the parliament building, which faces the Lenin museum. Unlike many former Soviet states the Kyrgyz people haven’t torn down the old monuments and Lenin seems to be mocking us all, his great arm lifted, finger pointing to the feral hedges.  Passing through the city park, like a miniature version of Copenhagen’s downtown Tivoli, coming up to the back fence of the White House, we see guards sleeping in the shade of trees, IPod headphones in their ears. The shady square next to the White House is filled with tents: green for the military boys, blue for the police force. No one seems to be carrying a gun, but they are prepared with riot gear for another uprising. A young man in uniform turns from his girlfriend to shout at me for taking a picture. He wants to know what magazine I’m representing. I’m frightened, ready to hand over my camera, but Samat laughs, teasing the soldier for chatting with his girlfriend instead of working. We walk on.

I ask Samat to take me to a bookstore and he picks one belonging to the country’s largest chain. While I’ve already been told that a «publisher» in Kyrgyz is actually nothing more than a printer, all writers having to pay for their own publication or find sponsors, I now learn that writers are responsible for arranging distribution as well. The store is filled with Russian and French publications. A single shelf displays the books by local—that is, national—writers: about two dozen books taken on consignment, representing all genres.

Kyrgyzstan has a population of just over 5 million with two official languages: Kyrgyz and Russian. The literacy rate is 96% for women, 99% for men[2]. There are 11 years of mandatory schooling and three major universities. University enrollment is 51% female. There are, however, very few female professors[3].Whatever the country’s problems are—poverty, inadequate agricultural management, corruption, collapsed infrastructure—these are not uneducated people.

Where Her Stone is Thrown: The Conference[4]
We’ve been told this is the first time women writers from this region have come together to discuss issues that relate specifically to them. The conference was an initiative of Vera Tokombaeva, a journalist from Bishkek, who approached the Chair of the International PEN Women Writers Committee Judith Buckrich in 2003, and asked if PEN might be able to help organize such an event in Central Asia. Several of the women attending this conference have actually been living and writing in Bishkek without having ever spoken to one another. Other women are from Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, and Kazakhstan. They all want to discuss the difficulties of publication, the social censorship that results from gender inequality, and, well, they want to «network». I guess that’s where the five of us «Westerners» come in: from Australia, Switzerland, Finland and Norway. Our role here isn’t to teach or guide, but learn and establish professional relationships with our Central Asian colleagues.

The conference begins in an auditorium at the Arts Museum with a press conference and three short films: a black and white documentary of the Spring Revolution titled Crash Down from the 7th Floor; a quiet, scenic story of a young rural couple and the circumstances surrounding the birth of their first child, Tunguch (First Born); and a controversial documentary about Bride Kidnapping, directed by Petr Lom. The following day, the most intensive of the conference, this documentary comes up in discussion again and again.

Perhaps the most startling aspect of the conference is the ambivalence these writers express regarding their roles as creative women in their society. Feminism as theory is not discussed and any inquiries in that vein result in general bewilderment. These women’s concerns are practical, urgent and often contrary.

It’s clear that women, married women, are traditionally subjugated by their husbands in this culture. One Kyrgyz proverb says that a girl stays where her stone is thrown. As depicted in the documentary, bride kidnapping is a long-standing tradition. Although technically illegal since 1994, it is still a relatively common practice, whether arranged through families, or as nearly random snatchings. One of the women says that, at this point, it is a priority just to get the word out that the practice is actually illegal. Technically, the kidnapper can be given a prison sentence as long as 5 years. However, the authorities only intervene when a formal complaint is made by the bride’s family.

Traditionally, the bridegroom picks out his intended and, enlisting the help of male relatives, kidnaps and takes her to his parents’ house. At that point the female relatives take over with persuasions and threats of curses should she refuse the boy. Once the girl crosses the threshold, her fate is sealed. She either stays, donning the white wedding veil and drinking from the marriage cup; or she leaves, accursed, her virtue henceforth in question and her prospects for a respectable marriage ruined. Social blackmail. While this documentary has been shown by the BBC, it has been banned from Kyrgyz television.

One of the women at the conference, a poet named Svetlana Suslova, says she is embarrassed by this documentary being shown at the conference, believing it portrays the Kyrgyz people as backward and ignorant, and misrepresents the modern Kyrgyz woman. Yet, two of the other women proceed to share their experiences of having been kidnapped: one refused to be married and is now a single mother, the other says she had been dating her boyfriend for two years when he took her to his brother’s house where his family told her they wanted her to stay. The former explains that she had known the boy vaguely, had had eye contact, but was not ready to marry. The latter describes her experience as romantic. I think about the English tradition of a man kneeling and unexpectedly proposing marriage. One doesn’t even have to take this to the extreme to see that this tradition also puts the woman in a passive position, not being expected to actively pursue a life partner, but to wait for a man to make an offer she can either refuse or accept. Today, perhaps, this kind of proposal is largely symbolic, only made after discussions and with a mutual understanding that a partnership has already been tacitly (or even formally) agreed upon. Yet, this latter woman’s kidnapping was also symbolic. Local traditions are rarely as singular as they first appear.

In Kyrgyzstan, a woman traditionally exerts her power and influence through childrearing. One woman proudly states, «It’s the woman’s responsibility to nurture the soul of the child». Asija Baigogina of Kazakhstan goes so far as to say that the children of women writers display a higher intelligence than other children. In all the discussion about men seeing women writers as a threat to their status as men, not one of the women expresses a wish to see men taking on a greater role in childrearing or homemaking. Put another way, it didn’t appear that these women were eager to relinquish the power they did have in family relationships. Motherhood seems to be an unspoken certainty of what they refer to as «The Feminine Life». Questions made by visiting PEN members about whether women could identify themselves as women independent of their roles as wives or mothers also seem to create confusion. (Granted, much confusion may be due to translation issues). However, when discussing a woman who was running for president, one of her supporters present at the conference clearly states that the candidate isn’t «a woman in the ordinary sense»: she is a widow.

The Feminine vs. The Creative
The phrase that emerges repeatedly through translation is «the feminine life», referring to housework, childrearing and other, familial responsibilities. This is set up against what they call «the creative life», writing poetry, prose, journalism etc. It seems these women really do see their femininity in terms traditional duties, and their creative urges as either gender neutral or masculine pursuits. When I, quite awkwardly, attempt to ask whether any of them see their writing as springing from the same feminine source of creative power as childbirth and childrearing, the room goes silent. The translator asks me to clarify: do I mean that my writing is driven by my libido? I decide to stop talking and just listen.

A Glass Ceiling Named Nancy Drew
Immediately before coming to Bishkek, I attended the PEN congress in Slovenia. One afternoon I met a man attending another conference at the same hotel. He was a moral philosopher teaching at a Florida university. I explained that I was with the Women Writers Committee of PEN, an organization working for free speech and literacy. The next morning at breakfast this philosopher asks my companion if she is also here for the Romance Writers’ Convention. I wanted to throw a book at him, something thick, like DeBeauvoir’s Second Sex, but I can’t say I was surprised. So, neither am I surprised to learn that the women in Kyrgyzstan are allowed to write detective novels and light romances with impunity. Provided there’s no sex in their romances.

Writing about sex, in novels or poetry, brings a woman author’s virtue into question. Married woman who write about sexual experiences are accused of having affairs. Svetlana Suslova is not joking when she says poetesses should never marry. She claims more than one talented poetess has turned out nothing but dribble after marrying. The women talk about how they censor themselves out of fear of being divorced or reviled by their children. If I weren’t committed to keeping my mouth shut, I’d assure them this isn’t a Kyrgyz or Central Asian phenomenon. Perhaps this isn’t even a gender issue. I will, however, grant that the risks of declaring this kind of independence are greater for these women than for me or my colleagues in Europe with greater economic possibilities, social mobility, and fewer genuine taboos.
«Judgment by Wolves»
In so many ways, «support network» is a disparaged term. The connotations are «new age», «pop-psych» and, arguably, gender-specific and patronizing. Still, when the moderator divides us into workgroups to discuss what practical steps should be taken in the future to help women writers in Central Asia, a «support network» is what comes to my mind. So many of these women are writing in complete isolation. They explain the immense social pressure, the «judgment by wolves» they endure from their communities. In Norway there is a saying that women are women’s worst enemies; according to Irina Kozlinskaja only 10% of Kyrgyz women believe that women should use political means to improve their situation. Even in this room we have a breadth of opinions: one woman says «We need to wait to act; this is a time for discussion»; the next tells us her sources say that more than 90% of Kyrgyz women are physically or emotionally abused by their husbands, that young women are committing suicide because of social censorship. Yet another defends the censorship of school textbooks when it comes to teaching teenagers about female reproductive anatomy. Irina Kozlinskaja says that they first need to determine whether women actually want gender equality. What is gender equality? I wonder. What will it be for them? And what are these women’s real expectations for themselves as writers?

It seems to me that, for some of these women, the grass isn’t just greener it’s jade and emerald on our side of the East/West divide. One of the women talked about how easy it would be to publish in Europe once they had translations of their work in English, German, or French. Yes, our opportunities for publishing are greater, but even for us it’s not easy. And interest in translations isn’t exactly burgeoning in the European and American markets. It may take much more discussion to form realistic expectations.

Seeing as how few of these women have reliable access to internet, their goals seem ambitious: organizing book exhibitions, political lobbying, televised round-table discussions, computer programs based on children’s literature, etc. But looking at and listening to these women, I don’t doubt they can accomplish whatever they set out to do collectively. The greatest hurdle may be establishing a community, finding a space and method for productive communication. We, as the visiting PEN members, agree that we aren’t there to make extravagant promises, but we can help them by sharing information about computer listservs and similar solutions, by making them aware of publication venues such as WordsWithoutBorders.org, and by offering moral support and solidarity.

A Panorama
On my last night in Bishkek, Samat tells me his student and friend Sergei wants to drive us around town. We won’t have to pay a taxi. His friend just wants to meet foreigners. It’s immediately obvious that Sergei is well-off as he pulls up in his big, black Mitsubishi. Sergei speaks Russian with eloquence, I’m sure, but his English is labor-intensive. And since my Russian is limited to «Cheers» and «Thank You», conversation is slow. I learn that Sergei is Maldivian, having emigrated with his family when he was 13. He is what they call a shuttle, someone who routinely travels to the United Arab Emirates to buy goods (tax free) and brings them home to sell. We were told the day before that immediately following the collapse of the Soviet Union, when men were too demoralized to work, many women supported their families as shuttles. Sergei has two hotels and several stores, all of which were plundered on March 24th. He was away in the United Arab Emirates when he heard the news of the riots. The airport had closed and there was no way for him to get home for days. He smiles. Everything is going well, now, yes. «Ah, you’re a writer?» he says. He wants to know if I write detective stories.

Five of us are going to dinner: Sergei, Samat, the Chair of the Women Writers Committee Judith Buckrich, Kristin Schnider from Swiss German PEN and me. A little student café where we eat five kinds of salad and shish kebab. MTV is on silently in the corner of the room. Both Judith and Kristin are well-traveled, but I tell them this is as far off the beaten track as I’ve ever been; I’ve never been in a city without an Irish pub. «Ah,» says Samat, «you want to go to the Irish pub? We can take you there.»

Instead Sergei drives us all to a look-out point near a restaurant called the Panorama. He wants to show us Bishkek at night from above. The guidebook says Bishkek is the name of a butter churn, but Samat says it also means cradle. He speaks optimistically of the country, claiming to have rarely seen pregnant women in the city in the past; he says today he’s seen four. He thinks that means people have hope. Not only does the feminist in me react to his statement, I also remember what Leyli Kerova said at the conference about the increasing number infant corpses being found in the city.  Hope is a vital and precious commodity. I hope Samat is right.

Sergei has brought beer, wine and dried fish, which he nimbly rids of eyes and innards before handing over to us. The sun has set already, but we watch the remaining sunlight fade and the stars and the neon and electric lights of the casinos and discos take over. There are a dozen cars parked here. Four teenagers in the nearest car are playing a board game in the backseat. A family is packing up their picnic. A couple is sitting on the low concrete guardrail, their arms around each other. A small fire is burning at the edge of the city. Bishkek’s make-out point, I joke. «Yes,» laughs Sergei. «I only have one wife and am allowed three. I’ve kidnapped you all.» Since I’m married with two kids and my two colleagues are single, I’m sure I’m the one in the clear.

As we pile back into Sergei’s car to leave, the teenagers in the car beside us put away the board game and switch off the light to neck in relative privacy. It really is the same all over.

7/16/2005

[1] according to Irina Kozlinskaja: International PEN Women Writer’s Committee Conference in Central Asia

[2] http://www.cia.gov/cia/publications/factbook/geos/kg.html

[3] Irina Kozlinskaja: International PEN Women Writer’s Committee Conference in Central Asia

[4] A detailed report of the conference is being prepared by Kristin Schnider of Swiss German PEN. This essay is intended as a supplement to her official report, and is therefore not exhaustive regarding the presentations and discussions of the conference.

Inntrykk fra kvinnekonferanse i Bishkek

… And Down Will Come Baby, Cradle and All: Snapshots from Bishkek and the Central Asian Women Writer’s Conference

 

June 24-28, 2005

by Ren Powell

In the marketplace the old women sit with their baskets of raspberries. A cardboard box full of chicks for sale. Kyrgyz newspapers and Russian bodice-ripper paperbacks. Plastic shoes, polyester bras, thongs and T-shirts made in China. Round loaves of bread and burlap bags filled with spices. A young woman in jeans is washing glasses in a bucket filled with soapy water. On a card table next to her are two bright blue coolers filled with Tan and Shoro. These coolers are ubiquitous on Bishkek’s street corners, and Samat, a private English teacher who has agreed to be my guide while I wander through his city, insists on buying me a glass of each.  Shoro is a thick, grain-based drink that you can buy with or without carbonation. Even without carbonation, the slightly fermented barley packs a bitter punch. «Full of vitamins,» says Samat. Yeah, it tastes good for you. Tan is made of milk and supposedly cures hangovers. The same bite of fermentation. I drain both glasses so as not to offend, but they leave me feeling bloated, as though I’d eaten a huge meal. Since Kyrgyzstan’s current unemployment rate is near 51%[1], I wonder if these drinks aren’t meals for many of the locals.

Five days is a short time to begin to form an image of a country and its people; there is what I can observe and there is what I am told. But even two women who live on the same street will have different views of their own culture, and most people anywhere in the world will make a statement about their country at noon only to contradict themselves a dozen times before midnight. With that said:

Through a Wide Angle Lens

In late February, when I first began making plans to come to Kyrgyzstan to take part in a conference of women writers sponsored by PEN International, everyone I talked to asked, «Where?»—but after the 24th of March, most of my colleagues had heard of the poor, former Soviet country in turmoil. The Spring Revolution made headlines even in Norway. Encouraged by the revolutions in the Ukraine and Georgia, thousands of people had traveled from the south of Kyrgyzstan to Bishkek in order to support Bakiyev in overthrowing President Akaev. Not a shot was fired in the capital city, but the hungry and homeless crowd rioted: fists, sticks and rocks. Store fronts were shattered and shops were looted. Even now, in June, some of the windows around the Kyrgyz «White House» and the town square of Ala-Too are still boarded with plywood.  According to Samat, most of Bakiyev’s supporters have remained in Bishkek. Maybe these are the men I see everywhere in parked cars midday, sleeping in the backseats or squatting on the ground around the Ladas and Moscowvitches, smoking and talking. Our taxi passes the land management building where whole families are gathered on the lawn, waiting, hoping to be given a parcel of land. Most of these people probably arrived in March, although internal migration has been on the rise in the country for some time now.

Bishkek itself, a city of 1 million, appears to me like a favored child once decked out in braids and ribbons let run wild. In most areas birch saplings spread unchecked and weeds have pushed through the concrete and asphalt. Along the main road to Manas Airport cattle and donkeys occasionally meander across the four lanes. The country gained its independence in 1991, ratifying its constitution in 1993. The Kyrgyz struggle for economic and social stability hasn’t been easy and after the Spring Revolution many of the programs set into motion by President Akaev have been abandoned.

Samat points out one of the old libraries, now rented out as office space. Across the street is the parliament building, which faces the Lenin museum. Unlike many former Soviet states the Kyrgyz people haven’t torn down the old monuments and Lenin seems to be mocking us all, his great arm lifted, finger pointing to the feral hedges.  Passing through the city park, like a miniature version of Copenhagen’s downtown Tivoli, coming up to the back fence of the White House, we see guards sleeping in the shade of trees, IPod headphones in their ears. The shady square next to the White House is filled with tents: green for the military boys, blue for the police force. No one seems to be carrying a gun, but they are prepared with riot gear for another uprising. A young man in uniform turns from his girlfriend to shout at me for taking a picture. He wants to know what magazine I’m representing. I’m frightened, ready to hand over my camera, but Samat laughs, teasing the soldier for chatting with his girlfriend instead of working. We walk on.

I ask Samat to take me to a bookstore and he picks one belonging to the country’s largest chain. While I’ve already been told that a «publisher» in Kyrgyz is actually nothing more than a printer, all writers having to pay for their own publication or find sponsors, I now learn that writers are responsible for arranging distribution as well. The store is filled with Russian and French publications. A single shelf displays the books by local—that is, national—writers: about two dozen books taken on consignment, representing all genres.

Kyrgyzstan has a population of just over 5 million with two official languages: Kyrgyz and Russian. The literacy rate is 96% for women, 99% for men[2]. There are 11 years of mandatory schooling and three major universities. University enrollment is 51% female. There are, however, very few female professors[3].Whatever the country’s problems are—poverty, inadequate agricultural management, corruption, collapsed infrastructure—these are not uneducated people.

Where Her Stone is Thrown: The Conference[4]

We’ve been told this is the first time women writers from this region have come together to discuss issues that relate specifically to them. The conference was an initiative of Vera Tokombaeva, a journalist from Bishkek, who approached the Chair of the International PEN Women Writers Committee Judith Buckrich in 2003, and asked if PEN might be able to help organize such an event in Central Asia. Several of the women attending this conference have actually been living and writing in Bishkek without having ever spoken to one another. Other women are from Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, and Kazakhstan. They all want to discuss the difficulties of publication, the social censorship that results from gender inequality, and, well, they want to «network». I guess that’s where the five of us «Westerners» come in: from Australia, Switzerland, Finland and Norway. Our role here isn’t to teach or guide, but learn and establish professional relationships with our Central Asian colleagues.

The conference begins in an auditorium at the Arts Museum with a press conference and three short films: a black and white documentary of the Spring Revolution titled Crash Down from the 7th Floor; a quiet, scenic story of a young rural couple and the circumstances surrounding the birth of their first child, Tunguch (First Born); and a controversial documentary about Bride Kidnapping, directed by Petr Lom. The following day, the most intensive of the conference, this documentary comes up in discussion again and again.

Perhaps the most startling aspect of the conference is the ambivalence these writers express regarding their roles as creative women in their society. Feminism as theory is not discussed and any inquiries in that vein result in general bewilderment. These women’s concerns are practical, urgent and often contrary.

It’s clear that women, married women, are traditionally subjugated by their husbands in this culture. One Kyrgyz proverb says that a girl stays where her stone is thrown. As depicted in the documentary, bride kidnapping is a long-standing tradition. Although technically illegal since 1994, it is still a relatively common practice, whether arranged through families, or as nearly random snatchings. One of the women says that, at this point, it is a priority just to get the word out that the practice is actually illegal. Technically, the kidnapper can be given a prison sentence as long as 5 years. However, the authorities only intervene when a formal complaint is made by the bride’s family.

Traditionally, the bridegroom picks out his intended and, enlisting the help of male relatives, kidnaps and takes her to his parents’ house. At that point the female relatives take over with persuasions and threats of curses should she refuse the boy. Once the girl crosses the threshold, her fate is sealed. She either stays, donning the white wedding veil and drinking from the marriage cup; or she leaves, accursed, her virtue henceforth in question and her prospects for a respectable marriage ruined. Social blackmail. While this documentary has been shown by the BBC, it has been banned from Kyrgyz television.

One of the women at the conference, a poet named Svetlana Suslova, says she is embarrassed by this documentary being shown at the conference, believing it portrays the Kyrgyz people as backward and ignorant, and misrepresents the modern Kyrgyz woman. Yet, two of the other women proceed to share their experiences of having been kidnapped: one refused to be married and is now a single mother, the other says she had been dating her boyfriend for two years when he took her to his brother’s house where his family told her they wanted her to stay. The former explains that she had known the boy vaguely, had had eye contact, but was not ready to marry. The latter describes her experience as romantic. I think about the English tradition of a man kneeling and unexpectedly proposing marriage. One doesn’t even have to take this to the extreme to see that this tradition also puts the woman in a passive position, not being expected to actively pursue a life partner, but to wait for a man to make an offer she can either refuse or accept. Today, perhaps, this kind of proposal is largely symbolic, only made after discussions and with a mutual understanding that a partnership has already been tacitly (or even formally) agreed upon. Yet, this latter woman’s kidnapping was also symbolic. Local traditions are rarely as singular as they first appear.

In Kyrgyzstan, a woman traditionally exerts her power and influence through childrearing. One woman proudly states, «It’s the woman’s responsibility to nurture the soul of the child». Asija Baigogina of Kazakhstan goes so far as to say that the children of women writers display a higher intelligence than other children. In all the discussion about men seeing women writers as a threat to their status as men, not one of the women expresses a wish to see men taking on a greater role in childrearing or homemaking. Put another way, it didn’t appear that these women were eager to relinquish the power they did have in family relationships. Motherhood seems to be an unspoken certainty of what they refer to as «The Feminine Life». Questions made by visiting PEN members about whether women could identify themselves as women independent of their roles as wives or mothers also seem to create confusion. (Granted, much confusion may be due to translation issues). However, when discussing a woman who was running for president, one of her supporters present at the conference clearly states that the candidate isn’t «a woman in the ordinary sense»: she is a widow.

The Feminine vs. The Creative

The phrase that emerges repeatedly through translation is «the feminine life», referring to housework, childrearing and other, familial responsibilities. This is set up against what they call «the creative life», writing poetry, prose, journalism etc. It seems these women really do see their femininity in terms traditional duties, and their creative urges as either gender neutral or masculine pursuits. When I, quite awkwardly, attempt to ask whether any of them see their writing as springing from the same feminine source of creative power as childbirth and childrearing, the room goes silent. The translator asks me to clarify: do I mean that my writing is driven by my libido? I decide to stop talking and just listen.

A Glass Ceiling Named Nancy Drew

Immediately before coming to Bishkek, I attended the PEN congress in Slovenia. One afternoon I met a man attending another conference at the same hotel. He was a moral philosopher teaching at a Florida university. I explained that I was with the Women Writers Committee of PEN, an organization working for free speech and literacy. The next morning at breakfast this philosopher asks my companion if she is also here for the Romance Writers’ Convention. I wanted to throw a book at him, something thick, like DeBeauvoir’s Second Sex, but I can’t say I was surprised. So, neither am I surprised to learn that the women in Kyrgyzstan are allowed to write detective novels and light romances with impunity. Provided there’s no sex in their romances.

Writing about sex, in novels or poetry, brings a woman author’s virtue into question. Married woman who write about sexual experiences are accused of having affairs. Svetlana Suslova is not joking when she says poetesses should never marry. She claims more than one talented poetess has turned out nothing but dribble after marrying. The women talk about how they censor themselves out of fear of being divorced or reviled by their children. If I weren’t committed to keeping my mouth shut, I’d assure them this isn’t a Kyrgyz or Central Asian phenomenon. Perhaps this isn’t even a gender issue. I will, however, grant that the risks of declaring this kind of independence are greater for these women than for me or my colleagues in Europe with greater economic possibilities, social mobility, and fewer genuine taboos.

«Judgment by Wolves»

In so many ways, «support network» is a disparaged term. The connotations are «new age», «pop-psych» and, arguably, gender-specific and patronizing. Still, when the moderator divides us into workgroups to discuss what practical steps should be taken in the future to help women writers in Central Asia, a «support network» is what comes to my mind. So many of these women are writing in complete isolation. They explain the immense social pressure, the «judgment by wolves» they endure from their communities. In Norway there is a saying that women are women’s worst enemies; according to Irina Kozlinskaja only 10% of Kyrgyz women believe that women should use political means to improve their situation. Even in this room we have a breadth of opinions: one woman says «We need to wait to act; this is a time for discussion»; the next tells us her sources say that more than 90% of Kyrgyz women are physically or emotionally abused by their husbands, that young women are committing suicide because of social censorship. Yet another defends the censorship of school textbooks when it comes to teaching teenagers about female reproductive anatomy. Irina Kozlinskaja says that they first need to determine whether women actually want gender equality. What is gender equality? I wonder. What will it be for them? And what are these women’s real expectations for themselves as writers?

It seems to me that, for some of these women, the grass isn’t just greener it’s jade and emerald on our side of the East/West divide. One of the women talked about how easy it would be to publish in Europe once they had translations of their work in English, German, or French. Yes, our opportunities for publishing are greater, but even for us it’s not easy. And interest in translations isn’t exactly burgeoning in the European and American markets. It may take much more discussion to form realistic expectations.

Seeing as how few of these women have reliable access to internet, their goals seem ambitious: organizing book exhibitions, political lobbying, televised round-table discussions, computer programs based on children’s literature, etc. But looking at and listening to these women, I don’t doubt they can accomplish whatever they set out to do collectively. The greatest hurdle may be establishing a community, finding a space and method for productive communication. We, as the visiting PEN members, agree that we aren’t there to make extravagant promises, but we can help them by sharing information about computer listservs and similar solutions, by making them aware of publication venues such as WordsWithoutBorders.org, and by offering moral support and solidarity.

A Panorama

On my last night in Bishkek, Samat tells me his student and friend Sergei wants to drive us around town. We won’t have to pay a taxi. His friend just wants to meet foreigners. It’s immediately obvious that Sergei is well-off as he pulls up in his big, black Mitsubishi. Sergei speaks Russian with eloquence, I’m sure, but his English is labor-intensive. And since my Russian is limited to «Cheers» and «Thank You», conversation is slow. I learn that Sergei is Maldivian, having emigrated with his family when he was 13. He is what they call a shuttle, someone who routinely travels to the United Arab Emirates to buy goods (tax free) and brings them home to sell. We were told the day before that immediately following the collapse of the Soviet Union, when men were too demoralized to work, many women supported their families as shuttles. Sergei has two hotels and several stores, all of which were plundered on March 24th. He was away in the United Arab Emirates when he heard the news of the riots. The airport had closed and there was no way for him to get home for days. He smiles. Everything is going well, now, yes. «Ah, you’re a writer?» he says. He wants to know if I write detective stories.

Five of us are going to dinner: Sergei, Samat, the Chair of the Women Writers Committee Judith Buckrich, Kristin Schnider from Swiss German PEN and me. A little student café where we eat five kinds of salad and shish kebab. MTV is on silently in the corner of the room. Both Judith and Kristin are well-traveled, but I tell them this is as far off the beaten track as I’ve ever been; I’ve never been in a city without an Irish pub. «Ah,» says Samat, «you want to go to the Irish pub? We can take you there.»

Instead Sergei drives us all to a look-out point near a restaurant called the Panorama. He wants to show us Bishkek at night from above. The guidebook says Bishkek is the name of a butter churn, but Samat says it also means cradle. He speaks optimistically of the country, claiming to have rarely seen pregnant women in the city in the past; he says today he’s seen four. He thinks that means people have hope. Not only does the feminist in me react to his statement, I also remember what Leyli Kerova said at the conference about the increasing number infant corpses being found in the city.  Hope is a vital and precious commodity. I hope Samat is right.

Sergei has brought beer, wine and dried fish, which he nimbly rids of eyes and innards before handing over to us. The sun has set already, but we watch the remaining sunlight fade and the stars and the neon and electric lights of the casinos and discos take over. There are a dozen cars parked here. Four teenagers in the nearest car are playing a board game in the backseat. A family is packing up their picnic. A couple is sitting on the low concrete guardrail, their arms around each other. A small fire is burning at the edge of the city. Bishkek’s make-out point, I joke. «Yes,» laughs Sergei. «I only have one wife and am allowed three. I’ve kidnapped you all.» Since I’m married with two kids and my two colleagues are single, I’m sure I’m the one in the clear.

As we pile back into Sergei’s car to leave, the teenagers in the car beside us put away the board game and switch off the light to neck in relative privacy. It really is the same all over.

7/16/2005

[1] according to Irina Kozlinskaja: International PEN Women Writer’s Committee Conference in Central Asia

[2] http://www.cia.gov/cia/publications/factbook/geos/kg.html

[3] Irina Kozlinskaja: International PEN Women Writer’s Committee Conference in Central Asia

[4] A detailed report of the conference is being prepared by Kristin Schnider of Swiss German PEN. This essay is intended as a supplement to her official report, and is therefore not exhaustive regarding the presentations and discussions of the conference.

Felles front til forsvar for ytringsfriheten

PRESSEMELDING

Felles front til forsvar for ytringsfriheten

IFEX-konferanse i Brüssel med fokus på anti-terror, straffefrihet og internasjonale kampanjer

«Acting together to defend free expression» er hovedtema for årsmøte i International Freedom of Expression Exchange – IFEX, som finner sted i Brüssel fra 19. til 24. februar med den Internasjonale Journalistføderasjonen som vertskap.

IFEX er et internasjonalt nettverk som daglig distribuerer meldinger om overgrep mot ytringsfiheten.  Norsk PEN er, som et av få PEN-sentere og som eneste nordiske organisasjon, selvstendig medlem av IFEX.  Generalsekretær i Norsk PEN, Carl Morten Iversen, har arbeidet med IFEX siden 1998 og sett nettverket vokse fra litt over 20 medlemmer til et omfattende, globalt nettverk med over 65 medlemmer, enkelte av dem internasjonale nettverk i seg selv innen journalistikk og forlegger- og skribentvirksomhet.

«Etter 11. september 2001 har vi sett en utvikling der menneskerettigheter og ytringsfrihet har måttet vike i kampen mot internasjonal terrorisme og mange land har innført nye «antiterrorlover» som brått har tilsidesatt alment aksepterte, internasjonale konvensjoner.  I EU har nå parlamentet vedtatt et direktiv som vil kunne gi politi og påtalemakt tilgang til eksisterende data vedrørende bruk av telefon, mobiltelefon og internet uten spesialfullmakt og uansett forbrytelsens karakter.  Direktivet vil trolig bli vedtatt i ministerrådet til tross for heftige protester fra europeiske presseorganisasjoner.  I så fall vil det, gjennom implementering i norsk lov, undergrave vår anerkjennelse av kildevernet og negativt påvirke muligheten til å drive kritisk og undersøkende journalistikk», sier Iversen.

Møtet vil også drøfte straffefrihet for overgrep, internetsensur og injurielovgivning.  Det siste benyttes også i store deler av verden for å kriminalisere journalistisk virksomhet og frie ytringer.  I tillegg vil møtet oppsummere erfaringene fra internasjonale ytringsfrihetskampanjer og særlig arbeidet i Tunisian Monitoring Group, der også Norsk PEN har vært aktiv gjennom deltagelse i tre observasjonsreiser, seminarer i Oslo og Geneve og en rekke kronikker, avisartikler og radio- og fjernsynsintervjuer om forholdene i Tunisia i løpet av 2005.

Oslo, 14. februar 2005

Ytterligere informasjon: Carl Morten Iversen, tlf.: 2247 9220, 926 88 023, eller i Brüssel (19.-24.02), Hotel Crown Plaza Brussels Europe, 155 Rue de la Loi, telefon: + 32 2 235 2207.

Referat fra Ohrid PEN-konferansen, sept. 2003

REFERAT FRA THE 6TH OHRID PEN CONFERENCE MAKEDONIA, 19.-22. SEPTEMBER 2003

Undertegnede var til stede ved The 6th Ohrid PEN conference i byen Ohrid i Makedonia fra 19. til 22. september 2003. Konferansen besto av to deler: Et seminar med emnet Berlin Wall/Schengen Zone og et møte i komiteen Translation and Linguistic Rights.

Foruten en fyldig representasjon fra Makedonia, var PEN-sentre fra følgende land representert: Bulgaria, Katalonia, Holland, Italia, Norge, Portugal, Serbia, Slovenia og Tyrkia. I tillegg var representanter fra Esperanto-senteret og det kurdiske senteret (med base i Tyskland) representert.

Seminaret Berlin Wall/Schengen Zone tok opp utviklingen i det moderne Europa og  landene på Balkan i forhold til denne utviklingen. De landene som ligger utenfor Schengen-området risikerer å bli enda mer isolert enn tidligere. Det gamle jernteppet er borte, men i stedet støter de mot en mur, som av noen blir sammenliknet med Berlin-muren. Det er en fysisk mur, fordi kunstnere og kulturarbeidere blir hindret i å delta på konferanser og seminarer på grunn av visa-problemer, og de makedonske deltakerne kunne fortelle om de mest opprørende og ydmykende erfaringer med å skaffe seg visum til utlandet. Men det blir også en psykisk mur, fordi man får en følelse av å bli holdt utenfor, av å være en annenrangs europeisk borger.

Det viser seg altså at utviklingen i Europa truer kommunikasjon og kulturutveksling, og til syvende og sist truer de intellektuelles frihet; som en av deltakerne sa: ”there are no administrative zones in literature and culture”.

Selv om Internett kan bøte på en del ved å være et effektivt kommunikasjonsmiddel, kan det ikke erstatte konkrete møter mellom mennesker, der man kan bryne seg på hverandre og nå frem til en bedre gjensidig forståelse.

Alle som har vært med på å arrangere internasjonale møter har støtt på visaproblemer, og de makedonske arrangørene møtte da også stor forståelse hos møtedeltakerne. Det ble vedtatt en resolusjon som ber om at dette problemet løses – en resolusjon Makedonia også ønsker å fremme på PEN-kongressen i Mexico City i høst (Resolusjonen kan fås ved henvendelse til Norsk PENs sekretariat).

Møtet i komiteen for ”Translation & Linguistic Rights” ble ledet av komiteens formann Katica Kulavkova, poet og professor ved Universitetet i Skopje. Komiteens sete er flyttet fra Spania til Makedonia, en flytting som ble godkjent av medlemmene. Det mest interessant punktet på dagsorden var presentasjon av prosjektet ”Diversity”, et nettsted som gir informasjon om komiteens aktiviteter og prosjekter. ”Diversity” skal også være  et ”internettbibliotek”, der forfattere fra de ulike land kan presentere seg for et bredere publikum, ved å legge ut opplysninger om seg selv og biter av eller hele tekster, oversatt til ett eller flere andre språk. Det er meningen at forfattere fra små språkområder skal få sin sjanse, og det er ikke meningen at alt skal gå via engelsk; man kan for eksempel tenke seg en russisk poet, oversatt til svensk og italiensk. Det ble en del diskusjon om det bare skulle være forfattere som var PEN-medlemmer som skule få anledning til å få sine tekster publisert innenfor ”Diversity”-prosjektet, men det gikk flertallet i forsamlingen imot. Det viktigste er å få god kvalitet, både på originaltekster og oversettelser. Dette prosjektet har også sitt sete i Skopje, og blir  administrert av en ung kvinnelig poet ved navn Ana Pejcinova. Det skal velges et internasjonalt redaksjonsråd på 7 personer til ”Diversity”. På møtet ble det bestemt å velge Katica Kulavkova til leder for redaksjonsrådet. Hun fikk fullmakt til å foreslå de andre medlemmene etter en vurdering av språklige og geografiske hensyn.

Kurdisk PEN la frem en resolusjon angående de tyrkiske, iranske og syriske kurdernes rettigheter. Med en mindre endring ble resolusjonen enstemmig vedtatt, og den kommer til å bli presentert på verdenskongressen i Mexico.(Resolusjonen kan fås ved henvendelse til Norsk PENs sekretariat).

Ellers kan jeg tilføye at jeg fikk et svært godt inntrykk av makedonsk PEN –  konferansen var svært velorganisert, og innlederne holdt et høyt nivå. Dessuten er det alltid stimulerende å møte ekte ildsjeler!

Oslo 24.10.03

Bente Christensen

Uttalelse til OSCEs Human Dimensions konferanse, oktober 2003

OSCE Human Dimensions Conference 2003 Warzaw, Poland, October 2003

Statement by Norwegian People’s Aid, Norwegian Union of Journalists and Norwegian PEN

 

Mr. Chairman, honoured delegates and colleagues,

Too many regimes, political leaders and non-governmental or quasi-governmental groups find it hard to meet criticism and unpleasent questions and to respect opposition. A wide range of means are being used by the same actors to silence critisism and independent information: liquidation, intimidation, imprisonment and torture, censorship and more subtile economical means such as monopolization of distribution units, illegal tax inspections and demands and an extensive use of defamation statutes against journalists and editors who are sentenced to pay heavy fines. We view the latter practices as financial blackmail intended to bankrupt publications and individual journalists. All these means are being employed in the OSCE region.

Belarus
The authoritanian regime of President Alyaksandr Lukashenka is openly hostile to a free press.  According to Freedom House (New York) new security legislation allows state agencies to effectively seize control of all media outlets under cover of counter-terrorism operations.  This legislation prohibits press discussion of law enforcement activities and defines some forms of political protest as «terrorist» activity.  In 2002, Belarusian courts sentenced Mikola Markevich, editor of the independant weekly Pahonya, and the journalist Pavel Mazheika to two years of forced labour for insulting the honor of the president. The sentence was reduced to one year on appeal.  Authorities subsequently arrested 14 journalists for protesting in support of Markevich and Mazheika.  State-run media outlets are subordinated to the president, whose regime controls press content and the appointment of senior editors.  While state-controlled print and broadcast media do not offer a plurality of views, some regional television broadcasters cautiously attempt more balanced reporting.  Many Belarusians receive their news from Russian television.  However, the government is reportedly planning to assign the current Russian broadcast frequency to a new state television channel.

Ukraine
In Ukraine, freedom of the press declined under the continued weight of political pressure and government censorship.  Article 34 of the constitution, and a 1991 law on print media, guarantee freedom of expression and the press, but journalists do not enjoy these rights in practice.  Official influence and de facto censorship is widespread.  The administration issues regular instructions (temniks) to mass media outlets directing the nature, theme, and substance of news reporting.  The European Institute for the Media reported that coverage at the state broadcaster UT-1 clearly favored the ruling party during the March 2002 parliamentary campaign.  Opposition media outlets face various forms of harassment, including obstructive tax audits, safety inspections, and selective enforcement of media regulations.  Libel ceased to be a criminal offense in 2001; however, politically motivated civil suits are common.  Journalists frequently experience physical assaults, death threats and murder as a result of their work.  In March 2002, Reporters Sans Frontières noted that 10 journalists have died under suspicious circumstances in the past four years, while another 41 have suffered serious injury from attacks.  In October, the body of Ukrainian News director Mykhailo Kolomyets was discovered in northwestern Belarus nearly a week after he had disappeared from Kyiv.  Kolomyets´s news agency had at times been critical of the government.  The case remained open by year´s end.  The well publicized murder of journalist Heorhiy Gongadze also remains unsolved.  Although print and broadcast media are largely in private hands, the state maintains control over the central printing and distributing centers.

Recommendations
On behalf of Norwegian People´s Aid, Norwegian Union of Journalists and Norwegian PEN, I would like to ask you to pay attention to the following two recommendations:

1) We will again recommend that the OSCE conducts a comparative analysis on the situation of freedom of expression in all OSCE participating states. The purpose of this study will be to identify common problems and obstacles, as well as country specific problems. This study will enable a more effective approach to solve the problems, both by national governments and international organisations. To conduct this study, financial support from the OSCE participating states must be required, as well as independent expert and NGO assistance. The study could also be used to elaborate and adopt international guidelines to national governments facing political and religious extremism.

2) With reference to freedom of the media we will recommend that the OSCE establishes a consultative body where competent NGOs are represented on an informal or formal basis. We believe that the NGOs will contribute with valuable insight and concrete measures to the strengthening of freedom of the media in the OSCE region.

Oslo, 01. October 2003