‘Be careful when you use the words ‘change’ ‘dream’ and ‘democracy’. Those things don’t come so easily to us.” (Dr Abduljalil Al-Singace, The New York Times, 2 June 2009).
English PEN featured writer, Dr Abduljalil Al-Singace, has been named as the winner of the 2022 PEN Pinter Prize for an International Writer of Courage.
Dr Abduljalil Al-Singace is an award-winning academic, activist, and blogger from Bahrain. He has spent the last decade in prison, where he is serving a life-sentence for his role in the 2011 pro-democracy protests. In July 2021, Dr Al-Singace started a hunger strike to protest his ill-treatment in prison.
Join English PEN campaign and send a message of congratulations to Dr Abduljalil Al-Singace, winner of 2022 PEN Pinter Prize for an International Writer of Courage:
“In a world where human rights continue to be under attack, Dublin Arts and Human Rights Festival sets out to celebrate the people who have stood up for them around the world and throughout history, and highlight the role artists can play in promoting a more just society.”
– Kevin Courtney, Irish Times
The Dublin Arts and Human Rights Festival is an annual, international festival organised by Smashing Times International Centre for the Arts and Equality and Front Line Defenders, a Dublin based international organisation working to improve the security and protection of human rights defenders at risk, in partnership with Amnesty International, Fighting Words, Irish Council for Civil Liberties, National Women’s Council of Ireland, Trócaire, Poetry Ireland, and Irish PEN. This year’s festival runs from the 14 – 23 October, with the theme ‘In Solidarity: A Celebration of Human Rights’.
The festival aims to promote human rights and justice for all, and the vision of a world where all people are treated equally, with dignity and respect – linking the arts to civil society, active citizenship and politics. The extraordinary work of human rights defenders in Ireland and around the world, past and present, and the role of the arts in promoting human rights will be showcased and highlighted at the festival, aiming to celebrate and unite community connections, artists, human rights organisations and human rights defenders.
The festival will showcase world-class and diverse acts, artists and speakers, including up and coming performers. It brings arts and human rights together through interdisciplinary events which include workshops, theatre performances, musical performances, visual arts, exhibitions, film screenings, panel discussions, poetry and literature events, historical memory performances, live art, digital installations, and more.
The festival is funded by the Arts Council of Ireland. The artistic curator for the festival is Mary Moynihan, Artistic Director of Smashing Times; and the human rights curator is Laura O’Leary, International Events and Promotions Coordinator at Front Line Defenders. The festival will be a hybrid programme delivered over 10 days and hosts an exciting blend of over 80 events happening in-person (following current government guidelines) and online, featuring Irish and international artists and guest speakers. There will be something for everyone interested in the arts for equality, human rights and diversity, reaching audiences locally, nationally, and internationally.
Join us to illuminate stories of courage and inspiration and shine a light on stories of ordinary people who stand up for human rights and impact on the lives of others. We will bear witness to, and remember the past, explore the present and celebrate the future linked to equality and rights for all.
There are two flagship events to highlight in the festival programme:
State of the Art: Transformative Memories in Political Violence exhibition, a four week live, on-site multi-media installation and exhibition displaying a selection of artworks that reflect on themes of arts, human rights and transformative memory in political violence with artists exhibiting their work interrogating political violence in communities across the globe, funded by the Arts Council.
Theexhibition features artworks in a multitude of forms including film, poster art, performance, installation, visual art, painting and music and can be viewed on site and online. The artworks are by a diverse group of artists from across the world and include; Erike Diettes, visual artist, Colombia; Alit Ambara, poster artist, Indonesia; Peter Morin, performance artist, Canada; Jeff Korondo, musician, Uganda; Juliane Okot Bitek, poet, Uganda. The exhibition is hosted at Chocolate Factory Arts Centre and runs from the 26 September to 23 October including the duration of the Dublin Arts and Human Rights festival which runs from the 14 to the 23 October 2022. In addition to the onsite exhibition, the work is available online via the Smashing Times Dublin Arts and Human Rights festival gallery.
[Front Line Defenders Event] – David and Goliath: Front line communities challenging corporate abuse
Land grabs, violent evictions, widespread deforestation and destruction of biodiversity, poor working conditions and more, are just some of the negative impacts of corporate abuse- companies operating with impunity for their human rights violations – companies that grow and process products that we use everyday in Ireland.
Communities around the world are on the front lines of challenging these companies, but sadly, human rights defenders that dare to speak out on these harmful practices risk dangerous retaliation, harassment, threats, attacks and criminalisation, and even murder.
At this event, two international guests – women human rights defenders Grecia Eugenia Rodríguez Navarro from Mexico, and Bidya Shrestha Maharjan from Nepal -will share the realities of what it is like challenging corporate abuse on the ground. Both are working hard to expose, and prevent, corporate-related human rights abuse in their communities, and have faced backlash for their defence of human rights. The event will also include an exclusive screening of the new Trócaire Documentary ‘Make It Your Business’ – a new short documentary which goes on a journey to explore corporate accountability, meeting experts and human rights activists on the front lines of corporate exploitation and abuse, and how we might improve on this in future.
Second Front Line Defenders event:
Housing as a Human Right: Stories from the Frontline October 23 @ 2:30 pm – 4:00 pm IST Venue: Toast
Housing precariousness has reached an unprecedented scale and worldwide housing is rarely treated as a human right. On the contrary, those people organising and acting to defend and promote this right are often targeted with criminal lawsuits, defamation campaigns and physical attacks.
At this discussion, we will talk with activists in the forefront of housing movements around the world, hear about the obstacles they are facing and the strategies they are using to advance housing rights in their countries.
This round table discussion involves talks with human rights defenders from Cote D’Ivoire, South Africa and Brazil. Full bios and details in link above.
The Dublin Arts and Human Rights festival 2022 is presented by Smashing Times International Centre for the Arts and Equality and Front Line Defenders in partnership with Amnesty International Ireland, Fighting Words, Irish Council for Civil Liberties (ICCL), the National Women’s Council of Ireland (NWCI), Poetry Ireland, Trocaire, and Irish PEN.
Smashing Times is an international organisation for the Arts and Human Rights. Our mission is to lead the development of the arts to promote and advance equality and human rights and to connect citizens to the arts, human rights, climate justice and gender equality, working with artists and communities to create collaborative art practice in local, national, European and international settings. The centre operates as a world class arts space and digital hub for artists, citizens, communities and the general public across Ireland, Northern Ireland and internationally. Core services consist of membership, resources, advice and the implementation of a range of innovative projects promoting professional and collaborative arts practice and a youth arts Ensemble. The centre promotes membership, networking, training, guidance, support and advocacy in relation to using high quality creative processes, collaborative arts practice, research and new digital technologies to promote equality and human rights for all.
Led by Director Mary Moynihan, the centre produces an annual and multi-annual inter-disciplinary arts programme. All artistic mediums are supported with a focus on the performing and collaborative arts including theatre, film, visual arts, dance and music. Smashing Times’ vast experience conducting arts-based projects both nationally and internationally and its global reputation for excellence in relation to using professional and socially engaged arts practice to promote human rights is drawn upon in the creation of this innovative space. Through artistic endeavour, the centre promotes the cause of human rights. Our vision is a world where all people have access to the arts and the arts are open for all to enjoy, creating a fair and inclusive society where equality, human rights and diversity are fully recognized, valued and protected.
Second Floor, Grattan House, Temple Road, Blackrock, Co. Dublin
Contact Person: Laura O’Leary, International Event & Promotions Coordinator
Front Line Defenders was founded in Dublin in 2001 with the specific aim of protecting human rights defenders (HRDs) at risk, people who work, non-violently, for any or all of the rights enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Front Line Defenders addresses the protection needs identified by human rights defenders themselves. Front Line Defenders maintains its headquarters in Dublin, an EU Office in Brussels, and regionally-based field staff in the Americas, Asia, Africa and the Middle East.
Contact Person: Kate O’Sullivan, Communications Manager
Amnesty International is a global movement of more than 7 million people who take injustice personally. We are campaigning for a world where human rights are enjoyed by all. In Ireland, our 20,000 members and supporters campaign on issues like reproductive rights, ending torture and protecting migrant and refugee rights, among others. We are independent of any political ideology, economic interest or religion. We are funded by our members and supporters.
The National Women’s Council (NWC) is the leading national representative organisation for women and women’s groups in Ireland. We are a feminist organisation, representing over 190 member groups from 5 across a diversity of backgrounds, sectors and geographical locations. Our mandate is to take action to ensure that the voices of women in all their diversity are heard. Our vision is of an Ireland and of a world where women and girls can achieve their full potential in a just and equal society.
11, 34 Usher’s Quay, The Liberties, Dublin 8, D08 CV6X
Contact: Liam Herrick, Executive Director
The Irish Council for Civil Liberties is Ireland’s leading independent human rights campaigning organisation. They monitor, educate and campaign to secure human rights for everyone in Ireland. They are committed to an Ireland that is more just, more free, and where human rights and civil liberties are enjoyed by everyone. They act as an essential defender of human rights and civil liberties and as an effective champion for the advancement of justice and freedom in Irish society.
Trócaire was established in 1973. Our dual mandate is to support the most vulnerable people in the developing world, while also raising awareness of injustice and global poverty in Ireland. Trócaire works with local partners to support communities in over 20 developing countries with a focus on food and resource rights, women’s empowerment and humanitarian response.
Behan Square, 12-16 Russell St, Northside, Dublin 1, D01 WD53
Contact: Colm Quearney, Development and Outreach Officer
Our aim is to help children and young people, and adults who did not have this opportunity as children, to discover and harness the power of their own imaginations and creative writing skills. At its core, Fighting Words is also about something much broader and more inclusive. It is about using the creative practice of writing and storytelling to strengthen our children and teenagers – from a wide range of backgrounds – to be resilient, creative and successful shapers of their own lives.
Poetry Ireland strives to achieve excellence in the reading, writing and performance of poetry in Ireland. Poetry Ireland enjoys rewarding partnerships with organisations at home and abroad. Our commitment to creating performance and publication opportunities for poets at all stages of their careers helps ensure that the best work is made available to the widest possible audience, securing a future for Irish poetry that is as celebrated as its past.
PEN was one of the world’s first non-governmental organisations and amongst the first international bodies advocating for human rights. It was the first worldwide association of writers, and the first organisation to point out that freedom of expression and literature are inseparable – a principle we continue to champion today in all PEN Centres and which is expressed in the PEN Charter, a signature document 22 years in the making from its origins in 1926 and ratification at the 1948 Congress in Copenhagen. The aims of Irish PEN/PEN na hÉireann are: to promote literature in and about Ireland both nationally and internationally; to defend worldwide the right of writers to responsible freedom of expression as defined in the PEN Charter; to foster international understanding through the appreciation of literature.
Irish PEN/PEN na hÉireann, supported by Dublin UNESCO City of Literature, presents the Ukrainian writer and Human Rights activist, Victoria Amelina. Victoria has accepted our invitation to present two literary events in Dublin in October 2022, as part of the Dublin Arts and Human Rights Festival. Victoria Amelina occasionally writes in English and her powerful essay on genocide and cultural memory, “Nothing Bad Has Ever Happened: a Tale of Two Genocides” was republished in the Irish Times earlier this year. “Homo Oblivious” was republished in the Dublin Review of Books in July.
On Thursday 20th October at 19:00, at the Smock Alley Theatre, Ms. Amelina, who is based in Kyiv, will discuss the role of artists and writers who chose to remain in Ukraine after the full-scale Russian invasion of February 24th of this year. She will also focus on the importance of preserving Ukrainian literature and culture, and will read from her own work. Her new project is entitled War and Justice Diary: Looking at Women Looking at War.
Victoria Amelina also writes for children. Her second Dublin Arts and Human Rights Festival event is for Ukrainian children aged 4-10 and is held (in Ukrainian) in Pearse Street Library on the 22nd October at 14:00.
During this event, she tells stories from a writer’s life and teaches the children to draw characters from her latest book, Ten Ways for an Excavator to Save the World (Ееесторії екскаватора Еки).
The Dublin Review of Books has reprinted a brilliant essay, “Homo Oblivious” by Ukrainian writer Victoria Amelina here. Victoria will be in Ireland in October for the Arts and Human Rights Festival. Information about her events will be published in our next Newsletter.
“Homo Oblivious” was originally published on the Arrowsmith Press Website
It gives us enormous pleasure to announce that imprisoned Kurdish poet Ilhan Sami Çomak has agreed to become our first Honorary member. Ilhan received many cards from Irish PEN members following our recent PEN Friends event. These were translated and brought to him by Ipek Ozel. Thank you, Ipek!
“Records of war” is a collection of memories of people directly affected by the Russia-Ukraine war. The editors started collecting diaries from their friends and the project grew to include other people who are not necessarily artists, journalists or professional writers; contributors can choose to remain anonymous. The continuously updated archive aims to give a “voice” to the people who either have experienced the war themselves or through people they are close to. “Records of war” doesn’t rely on social networks and has no censorship. The texts are not edited. They can be translated into English and other languages if needed. The project seeks to support the authors (Ukrainians who are displaced, lost their jobs or their normal lives) and pay for their submissions by collecting donations and applying for grants. “Records of war” is a non-profit that is maintaining the publishing platform – the scouting of authors, selecting, editing and translating the texts. The editors, Ukrainians themselves, are volunteering for the job. A charity fund accepts donations and distributes them among the authors.