ECPMF joins PEN America open letter in solidarity with Ukraine

Open Letter Support for Ukraine - PEN America

We are writers, journalists, artists, human rights defenders, and those who stand in solidarity with them from around the world, including those who stay in Ukraine and made the difficult decision to leave our homes. On the one-year marking of Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine, we write to express our collective condemnation of Russia’s multi-pronged war against the Ukrainian people and culture.

 

We grieve for the thousands of people killed as casualties of Russia’s campaign of violence. Russia’s war has sought to rupture Ukraine’s social fabric and culture, displacing millions of people in the destruction of cities and towns. We grieve for the deaths of writers, artists, journalists, cultural workers, and all who have cultivated Ukraine’s blooming culture and civil society sector. 

 

In the last year, the space for free expression in Ukraine has been under attack by the Russian military’s actions. Russian soldiers have deliberately killed and kidnapped journalists and writers. Artists had to flee Ukraine in order to survive and continue their work. Russian bombardments have indiscriminately destroyed and damaged hundreds of places where Ukrainians experience culture and history, from community cultural houses to Holocaust memorial centers. There is evidence that the Mariupol Drama Theater, the 19th century Regional Youth Library in Chernihiv, and other remarkable cultural objects have been deliberately targeted. But Russia’s military actions since February 24, 2022, represent only one prong in Russian President Vladimir Putin’s attack on Ukraine. 

 

Alongside the deliberate destruction of human life and infrastructure, Russian President Vladimir Putin has denied the existence of Ukrainian history and culture distinct from Russia. Since 2014, Russia has illegally occupied Crimea and parts of Luhansk and Donetsk, where writers, journalists, and activists have been jailed for their expression under the administration of the Russian Federation and armed separatist groups backed by Russia. Russian authorities have banned Ukrainian and Crimean Tatar language instruction and media and excavated a world heritage site to construct a revisionist history rooted in President Putin’s denial of other cultures.

 

Yet, despite being under attack, journalists, writers, artists, and cultural rights defenders continue to make art, write, and contribute to Ukrainian culture. Translators and members of the free press ensure that the realities of life in Ukraine and the impact of Russia’s violence are broadcast to the world. The diary entries, essays, poems, independent reporting, and street art are central to rebuilding in Ukraine when the war is over. 

 

We, the signatories below, stand in solidarity with Ukraine’s culture and civil society sector and support its writers, artists, journalists, and cultural workers’ efforts to create life beyond Russia’s war. We reiterate our condemnation of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and call for the support of all journalists, cultural figures, and all unjustly persecuted in Ukraine for their expression. 

 

Russia should be held accountable for its war crimes and human rights abuses. We urge the international community to support all Ukrainian efforts to investigate these crimes and ensure that the deliberate targeting of Ukrainian cultural heritage by the Russian regime is included in national accountability mechanisms as well as the international commission of inquiry for Ukraine.

 

We call on international governments to join us in solidarity by providing livelihood support to Ukrainian writers, artists, and journalists inside and outside the country and ensure that they can continue to create art wherever they are. Russia must be held accountable for its violations of cultural rights and human rights in Ukraine.

Organisational signatories: 

Active Vista International Human Rights Festival

Academia de la Historia de Cuba en el Exilio

Amani: Africa Creative Defence Network

ARTICLE 19

Artist Protection Fund

ArtLords and Wartists, Afghanistan

Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development (FORUM-ASIA)

Avant-Garde Lawyers

Belarusian Association of Journalists (BAJ)

Callias Foundation

Cambodian Center for Human Rights

Cartoonists Rights Network International

Centrala – Centre for Central and Eastern European art and artists

DAKILA Philippines

English PEN

European Centre for Press and Media Freedom (ECPMF)

Freedom House

Freemuse

Human Rights Movement and Film Festival “Bir Duino – Kyrgyzstan”

ICOM Israel

ICOM Poland National Committee

IFEX

International Press Institute (IPI)

Ithaca City of Asylum (ICOA)

On the Move

Oregon Institute for Creative Research

P.E.N.-Québec

PEN America and Artists at Risk Connection (ARC)

PEN Belarus

PEN Canada

PEN Català

PEN International

PEN Uganda

Penn Cultural Heritage Center, Penn Museum

People for Accountable Governance and Sustainable Action-PAGASAph

Post-Museum, Singapore

Safe Havens | Freedom Talks

Tanzania Artists Rights Organization (TARO)

The Swedish Museums Association

Trans Europe Halles

Ukrainian Cultural Foundation

 

Individual signatories 

Ayad Akhtar

Marie Arana

Reza Aslan

Margaret Atwood

Paul Auster

Carolina Barrero

Laura Bickford

Martin Bright

Robert Caro

Joyce Carol Oates

Rosanne Cash

Rohan Chakravarty

Ron Chernow

Ahmedur Tutul Chowdhury

Esther Claassen

Molly Crabapple

Lydia Davis

Mónica de la Torre

Gianluca Del Gobbo

Octavio DelaSuaree

Ariel Dorfman

Jennifer Egan

Louise Erdrich

Oskar Eustis

Jonathan Franzen

Ileana Fuentes

Claudia Genlui

Louis A. Gitinywa

Peter Godwin

Lev Golinkin

Lev Grossman

Jessica Hagedorn

Daniel Handler

James Hannaham

Tom Healy

Aleksandar Hemon

David Henry Hwang

Siri Hustvedt

Sunitha Janamohanan

Sofia Karim

Mary Karr

Sean Kelly

Nicole Krauss

Dr. Dominik Kuryłek

Chang-Rae Lee

Yiyun Li

John Lithgow

Valeria Luiselli

Allison Markin Powell

Guillermo G. Marmol

David Mazzucchelli

Jay McInerney

Askold Melnyczuk

Christopher Merrill

Claire Messud

Paul Muldoon

Azar Nafisi

Ahmed Naji

Maggie Nelson

Yanelys Nuñez Leyva

Jan Moritz Onken

Susan Orlean

Sarah D. Phillips

Robert Pinsky

Francine Prose

Alexis Romay

Dr. Piotr Rypson

Esmeralda Santiago

Katrina Stuart Santiago

George Saunders

Seth Schachner

Stacy Schiff

Dr. Katherine Schofield

Alice Sebold

Stéphane Segreto-Aguilar

Sharmila Seyyid

Elif Shafak

Fatima Shaik

Gary Shteyngart

Jane Smiley

Andrew Solomon

Alec Soth

Richard Stengel

Rose Styron 

John Suarez

Cynthia Sweeney

Aatish Taseer

Anne Tyler

Russell Scott Valentino

Mario Vargas Llosa

Ayelet Waldman

Tara Westover

Jamie Wolf

Tobias Wolff

Sholeh Wolpé

KK Wootton

Jillian C. York

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