From: internationales literaturfestival berlin
23. Oktober 2018
Dear Madam or Sir,
Below please find our call for a Worldwide Reading on December 10, 2018, signed, among others, by Nobel laureates Elfriede Jelinek, Herta Müller, Wole Soyinka, Mario Vargas Llosa, as well as Manal al-Sharif, Margarete Atwood, Bernard Henri Levy, Roberto Saviano, Eva Menasse, David Van Reybrouck and the President of PEN International, Jennifer Clement.
Worldwide Reading for Freedom of the Press and in Memory of Jamal Khashoggi on the 70th Anniversary of the Declaration of Human Rights
On December 10, 1948, 70 years ago, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was announced by the United Nations General Assembly at the Palais de Chaillot in Paris. On this anniversary, the international literature festival berlin (ilb) calls upon individuals, institutions, universities, schools, and media who value freedom of the press and human rights to organize and participate in a worldwide reading in memory of the murdered Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
The last time Khashoggi was seen alive was when he entered the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on October 2. After nearly three weeks of silence, Saudi Arabia admitted that he died there during a fight with Saudi officials. However, the evidence – such as the deployment of a fifteen-member team of security officers including a forensic scientist – indicates that the murder of Khashoggi was planned well in advance or, at the very least, accepted. The involvement of the highest levels of the Saudi Arabian government, including the crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman, is very likely, since such an action against a prominent critic of the regime would hardly be undertaken without the approval of the royal family. Until now, Saudi Arabia has not offered any clues about the location of Khashoggi’s body. The initiators of the worldwide reading demand the complete and transparent truth about the events that transpired. The responsible parties must be held accountable.
In the last text written by the 59-year-old (he would have celebrated his sixtieth birthday on October 13, 2018) Saudi journalist, which the Washington Post published two weeks after his disappearance, Khashoggi emphatically calls for freedom of expression in the Arab world. His firm stance has now cost the journalist his life.
This murder is the climax of a series of oft-unsolved murders of male and female journalists in recent years, as seen by recent cases in Mexico, Bulgaria, Malta, and Slovakia. Freedom of the press and freedom of expression, the indispensability of which Khashoggi emphasized with regard to the Arab world, is under threat everywhere, including in Europe. Consequently, journalists and political dissidents, even those in exile, are no longer safe, as this case blatantly shows. Jamal Khashoggi is simply the most prominent victim thus far. Many murders against journalists do not even reach the attention of the world public. We also remember that in Turkey, too, freedom of the press is extremely restricted. Over 150 journalists and authors are imprisoned, with some serving lifelong sentences.
At the same time, this incident has already led to serious consequences for international politics and the global economy. Numerous leading managers and economic policy makers will no longer participate in the large Future Investment Initiative scheduled to take place in Riyadh at the end of October. Therefore, this incident clearly shows that the protection of freedom of the press and freedom of expression and the fight against the murder of journalists and extrajudicial state killings are not about some kind of unrealistic idealism in terms of human rights, but rather that we are all affected by these crimes – culturally, politically, and economically.
If this incident, the most stunning murder of a journalist in recent years, does not lead to consequences – what then? Who will be the next murdered journalist, activist, or dissident, and in which country? Even after the partial confession by the Saudis, this incident may not be swept under the rug. Remembering Khashoggi on the anniversary of the Declaration of Human Rights is intended to make this emphatically clear.
With all this in mind, on December 10, we call upon you to participate in the worldwide reading of texts by Jamal Khashoggi and – depending on the specific national context – other murdered, missing, and imprisoned journalists.
Please send information about the reading in your location to firstname.lastname@example.org so that we may publicize the events on our websites http://www.worldwide-reading.com and www.literaturfestival.com.