The concept of a ‘city of refuge’ is based on the original
Cities of Asylum that was founded by the International Parliament
of Writers in 1993. This was established by Salman Rushdie, Vaclav
Havel, Margaret Drabble and Jacques Derrida among others, in
response to the assassination of writers in Algeria. The IPW has
since dissolved, but the scheme was left intact and has developed
in over 30 cities across the world, including Stavanger where the
International Cities of Refuge Network (ICORN) is based. In June
2007, ICORN's General Assembly was held in June 2007.
Writers who have gained from the ICORN initiative in other
Cities of Refuge include:
Soudabeh Alishahi (Norway)
Soudabeh Alishahi was the first writer to gain asylum in Norway
under the Writers in Exile scheme. She is educated as a teacher and
has taught at secondary school in Iran. Her first collection of
short stories, Blue and Red, was published in 1999. She has written
a second collection as well as a novel but publication was stopped
by Iranian censorship. Her short stories are mostly about the
situation of Iranian women living in Iran or in exile, and express
strong criticism of the prevailing political and religious
conditions in the country.
Er Tai Gao (Las Vegas, USA)
Having been imprisoned after the Tiananmen Square protests in 1992,
Er Tai Gao escaped China through Hong Kong with his wife Maya. They
were then granted political refugee status in the United States.
Gao's published works include The Struggle of Beauty and Beauty,
The Symbol of Freedom. Between bursts of painting, he has completed
a memoir, In Search of My Homeland, to be published by
HarperCollins in late 2006.
José Anibal Campos (Berlin,
José Anibal Campos had to leave Cuba in 2002 due to his critical
attitude towards the government, and cannot return. He initially
lived in Barcelona, Spain, while his wife and daughter remained in
Cuba and subsequently travelled to Germany where he received a
scholarship from the Weimar Association, Cities of Asylum.