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Writers for Peace statement: Appeal to the Citizens of Europe

Friday 5 April 2019 - 2:00pm

Writers for Peace Committee
April 2019

Appeal to the Citizens of Europe – April 5th, 2019

After the First World War, writers had great hopes for the future.  They established the International PEN Club, in 1921, the letters standing for Poets, Essayists, and Novelists. They wished to promote peace through literature and made a decisive attempt to build a society of nations, based on shared humanistic values and democratic governance.

Today we count about 140 PEN centres in more than 100 countries all over the world. As writers we know that literature knows no borders.  We believe in the ideal of one humanity living in peace and equality in one world.  As members of PEN we pledge to use at all times whatever influence we have in favour of good understanding and mutual respect among nations and peoples.  We pledge to do our utmost to dispel all hatreds, be it hatred based on race, class, religion, gender or any other pretext or ideology.

Through the centuries, Europe has endured terrible wars, conducted in the name of religion, secular ideologies, ultranationalist and racist bias and arrogance. Through the centuries, Europeans have exported wars and exploitation to other continents  and have caused great sorrow to our fellow human beings in other parts of the world. While we share our vision of a united Europe today, we are trying to overcome the Eurocentric perspectives of the past. As members of PEN International, we believe in the spirit of solidarity and respect for all humankind, as laid down in our charter and the Declaration of Human Rights.

We stand for a united Europe with open borders.  We believe that Europe continues to be a community in which regard for human rights, the rule of law, freedom of speech and assembly, as well as tolerance and respect will thrive.  We expect the rhetoric of the 1930’s not be echoed in the rhetoric of today. We demand the fundamental improvement of our democracy in modern Europe.  Modern Europe is not based only on economics.  It is based on our common European values that have developed over the course of centuries, let us not forget, at the cost of immense sacrifice.  We believe that each person deserves respect, regardless of nationality, race, gender, and age.  Modern Europe is based on solidarity.  This will be possible if we learn the history and culture of all European countries.

We urge you, citizens of Europe, to participate in the European Parliamentary elections. While the European Union is of course not “Europe”, and, like all human institutions, is far from perfect and is in need of constant reform, the necessary improvements can be brought about only by politicians who respect our humanistic values and believe in the vision of a common Europe.  The challenges we face today, such as economic injustices, climate change and wars, all leading up to mass migration, cannot be solved by populistic, simplistic approaches as ultranationalists try to make us believe.

We call for the formation of a common European education programme that should involve the teaching of the history of all the countries of Europe. sIn this way we may attain a renaissance of cohabitation, the end of autocracy, and a new wave of solidarity among us all.

Let us build the future together.