In my roles as both the Chair of the IPA’s Freedom to Publish Committee and the Managing Director of the World Expression Forum (WEXFO) I will speak at an event organized by the Lokman Slim Foundation, UMAM Documentation & Research and Dar al-Jadeed. Entitled «Justice for Lebanon, Justice for Lokman» the event aims to draw attention to political assassinations and highlight the impunity that surrounds these crimes.
It is important for us to honour the braveness and determination of his sister, and his widow, Monika Borgmann, in their fight for Freedom of Expression and justice. They are both such an inspiration.
At the announcement of the Prix Voltaire in 2021, I said that “This year’s Prix Voltaire laureate paid the ultimate price, standing up for freedom of expression as an enabler of tolerance and conflict resolution in Lebanon. His loss is a loss to the entire international publishing community.” I added: “Dar Al Jadeed has experienced first-hand the dangers that can come with a commitment to freedom of expression and the free communication of ideas. Their bravery is an inspiration”.
Dar Al Jadeed declares itself a “free, independent, and avant-garde house” where “our writers are stars wherever they go. Our books do not age. The new is an idea and ideas do not close their doors.” I love this slogan!
The main theme of World Expression Forum in May will be “The global Recession of Freedom of Expression and how to fight it”.
In a global perspective, the democratic progress made over the past 35 years is gone. Nearly three-quarters of the world’s population lives under autocratic rule. Disinformation, polarization, and autocracy mutually reinforce each other, according to the recent report from the V-dem Institute, that monitors the global development of democracies.
We see global and local warfare to limit Freedom of Expression and limit access to information, knowledge, and inspiration. And huge scale operations to distort truth and trust.
But we must look for rays of hope. The work of Dar Al Jadeed inspires, they never give up.
My thoughts are with them today!
Nominations for the 2024 IPA Prix Voltaire are now open. You can find out how to nominate here:
Early bird tickets are available for WEXFO until 15 February: https://internationalpublishers.org/wexfo-2024-ticket-sales-open-and-speakers-announced/