Worldwide Reading for Freedom of the Press and in Memory of Jamal Khashoggi on the 70th Anniversary of the Declaration of Human Rights, December 10, 2018

SPLAB is honored to participate in a Worldwide Reading for Freedom of the Press and in Memory of Jamal Khashoggi on the 70th Anniversary of the Declaration of Human Rights, December 10, 2018. Those who care to read work addressing this issue are welcome to participate in EasySpeak Seattle’s regular reading, signup 7:30pm and starting at 8pm, at the WedgwoodAle House, 8515 35th Ave NE, Seattle, WA, 98115.

On December 10, 1948, 70 years ago,      the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was announced by the United Nations General Assembly at the Palais de Chaillot in Paris. On this anniversary, the international literature festival berlin (ilb) calls upon individuals, institutions, universities, schools, and media who value freedom of the press and human rights to organize and participate in a worldwide reading in memory of the murdered Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
 
The last time Khashoggi was seen alive was when he entered the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on October 2. After nearly three weeks of silence, Saudi Arabia admitted that he died there during a fight with Saudi officials. However, the evidence – such as the deployment of a fifteen-member team of security officers including a forensic scientist – indicates that the murder of Khashoggi was planned well in advance or, at the very least, accepted. The involvement of the highest levels of the Saudi Arabian government, including the crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman, is very likely, since such an action against a prominent critic of the regime would hardly be undertaken without the approval of the royal family. Until now, Saudi Arabia has not offered any clues about the location of Khashoggi’s body. The initiators of the worldwide reading demand the complete and transparent truth about the events that transpired. The responsible parties must be held accountable. 
 
In the last text written by the 59-year-old (he would have celebrated his sixtieth birthday on October 13, 2018) Saudi journalist, which the Washington Post published two weeks after his disappearance, Khashoggi emphatically calls for freedom of expression in the Arab world. His firm stance has now cost the journalist his life.
 
This murder is the climax of a series of oft-unsolved murders of male and female journalists in recent years, as seen by recent cases in Mexico, Bulgaria, Malta, and Slovakia. Freedom of the press and freedom of expression, the indispensability of which Khashoggi emphasized with regard to the Arab world, is under threat everywhere, including in Europe. Consequently, journalists and political dissidents, even those in exile, are no longer safe, as this case blatantly shows. Jamal Khashoggi is simply the most prominent victim thus far. Many murders against journalists do not even reach the attention of the world public. We also remember that in Turkey, too, freedom of the press is extremely restricted. Over 150 journalists and authors are imprisoned, with some serving lifelong sentences.
 
At the same time, this incident has already led to serious consequences for international politics and the global economy. Numerous leading managers and economic policy makers will no longer participate in the large Future Investment Initiative scheduled to take place in Riyadh at the end of October. Therefore, this incident clearly shows that the protection of freedom of the press and freedom of expression and the fight against the murder of journalists and extrajudicial state killings are not about some kind of unrealistic idealism in terms of human rights, but rather that we are all affected by these crimes – culturally, politically, and economically.
 
If this incident, the most stunning murder of a journalist in recent years, does not lead to consequences – what then? Who will be the next murdered journalist, activist, or dissident, and in which country? Even after the partial confession by the Saudis, this incident may not be swept under the rug. Remembering Khashoggi on the anniversary of the Declaration of Human Rights is intended to make this emphatically clear.
 
With all this in mind, on December 10, we call upon you to participate in the worldwide reading of texts by Jamal Khashoggi and – depending on the specific national context – other murdered, missing, and imprisoned journalists. Please send information about the reading in your location to worldwidereading@literaturfestival.com so that we may publicize the events on our websites  http://www.worldwide-reading.com and  www.literaturfestival.com.
 
Ulrich Schreiber
Festival Director, international literature festival berlin

Our film “What Matters”, which presents a reading of the 30 articles of human rights with Vivienne Westwood, Nina Hoss, Can Dündar, Patti Smith, Simon Rattle, Ai Weiwei, Elfriede Jelinek, David Grossman, and others, is now available online with subtitles in 9 languages (Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Russian, Hindi, Turkish, Spanish and German) – we especially recommend screening the film in schools, universities, and cultural institutions: 
http://literaturfestival.com/festival-en/projekte-en/what-matters-en?set_language=en

For the reading, we recommend texts by Khashoggi, such as these from the Washington Post: 
https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/global-opinions/jamal-khashoggi-what-the-arab-world-needs-most-is-free-expression/2018/10/17/adfc8c44-d21d-11e8-8c22-fa2ef74bd6d6_story.html?utm_term=.f4a73f975eeb 
Arabic:
http://blogs.aljazeera.net/blogs/2018/10/18/جمال-خاشقجي-أمس-ما-يحتاجه-العالم-العربي-هو-حرية-التعبير

See also Khassogis speech in Aril, this year:   
https://www.nytimes.com/2018/10/22/opinion/khashoggi-mbs-arab-democracy.html

About Splabman

Poet/interviewer Paul Nelson: Founded: SPLAB (Seattle Poetics LAB) & the Cascadia Poetry Festival Wrote: American Sentences (2015), A Time Before Slaughter (2010) and Organic in Cascadia: A Sequence of Energies (Lumme Editions, Brazil, 2013). His 2015 interview with José Kozer was published in 2016 (Ranchos Press) as Tiovivo Tres Amigos. Interviewed: Allen Ginsberg, Michael McClure, Joanne Kyger, Robin Blaser, Anne Waldman, Ed Sanders, Diane di Prima, Nate Mackey, George Bowering, Brenda Hillman, among others and is engaged in a 20 year bioregional cultural investigation of Cascadia, including the festival, a MOOC (Innovative Cascadia Poetry), interviews with Cascadia poets indigenous elders and activists, and the anthology Make It True: Poetry From Cascadia. Paul is co-editor of that anthology as well as 56 Days of August the poetry postcard anthology and writes an American Sentence daily. *MOOC = Massive Open Online Course
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