The Day of the Imprisoned Writer dedicated to Eritrea


Institutional Communication Service

9 November 2018

The two lectures organised in conjunction with the Day of the Imprisoned Writer will be dedicated to Eritrea and are organised by Centro PEN della Svizzera italiana e retoromancia, in cooperation with Università della Svizzera italiana (USI), and Franklin University Switzerland (FUS). Several are the Eritrean journalists, and writers who end up in jail, and disappeared leaving their families in the dark.

Both lectures (the first one to be held on November 13, in Italian, at 8 pm in room A21, on USI Lugano Campus; the second one on November 15, in English, at 5:30 pm in the Nielsen Aufditorium at Franklin University, Sorengo), are coordinated by Maria Emilia Arioli (President of Centro PEN della Svizzera Italiana e retoromancia) with the participation of internationally renowned Eritrean jurist Dr. Daniel Rezene Mekonnen. Aside from his work as a jurist, Dr. Mekonnen is also a poet, a writer, and a researcher with a deep understanding of the reasons behind the exodus from both Eritrea and the African continent.

The lecture at USI is promoted by USI Institute for Public Communication, the Law Institute, the Middle East Mediterranean Freethinking Platform, and the Institute of Italian Studies. At USI, Dr. Mekonnen will converse with Professor Jolanta Drzewiecka and Professor Jean-Patrick Villeneuve. At Franklin, the event will feature Professor Morris Mottale.

From 2009 to 2017, Mekonnen was forced to move from one country to the next as a result of threats expressed against him by the Eritrean Government for having actively cooperated with the UN Commission of Inquiry into Human Rights Violations in Eritrea. In 2017 he was the first writer guest of the ICORN (International Cities of Refuge Network) residence in Lucerne.

These are two unique opportunities to get a clearer picture on the real situation in this land of ancient civilisation, through the direct testimony of a researcher known for his objective, lucid, sensitive and human approach.

Both lectures are free and open to the public. They were made possible thanks to the generous contribution of Fondazione Pica-Alfieri.

PEN International – Swiss Italian and Reto-Romansch Center is the PEN International Swiss chapter for the Italian and Reto-Romansch languages. It is an apolitical international association of writers, journalists, essayist and publishers, whose aim is to promote freedom of expression, oppose all forms of oppression of intellectual freedom, and foster contacts between writers from different countries.  Established in London in 1921, the association counts centres in more than 100 countries, three of which are in Switzerland. Each year the Swiss Italian and Reto-Roamnsch Center commemorates with the other PEN Centers worldwide the Day of the Imprisoned Writer to raise awareness on unjust imprisonments and other forms of attack against writers from all countries.


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