Delegation from PEN America visited Ukraine and presented the report on cultural losses since February 24

Delegation from PEN America visited Ukraine and presented the report on cultural losses since February 24

On December 1, the delegation of writers and journalists from PEN America came to Ukraine to express solidarity with Ukrainian cultural community in times of the war and present the report on Ukrainian cultural losses since February 24, 2022.

The delegation included Suzanne Nossel, executive director of PEN America, Drew Menacker, operational director, together with writers and journalists Dave Eggers, Barbara Demick and Peter Godwin.

  • Dave Eggers is an American writer and publisher. He works with the topic of human rights violation and advocates for accessible higher education and popularisation of literature among young people. Dave Eggers is a co-founder of the International Congress of Youth Voices – an annual meeting of 100 young authors and activists.
  • Barbara Demick is an American writer and journalist. She was formerly the Beijing and Seoul bureau chief of the Los Angeles Times and a correspondent for the Philadelphia Inquirer in the Middle East and Balkans. Barbara Demick is a winner of a number of awards for her journalistic materials covering the topic of human rights and justice.
  • Peter Godwin is a Zimbabwean author, journalist, screenwriter, and former human rights lawyer. He graduated from Cambridge and Oxford Universities, has reported for leading British media from more than 60 countries and served as president of PEN America from 2012 to 2015.

In Kyiv, the American authors presented the joint report of PEN America and PEN Ukraine on Ukrainian cultural losses since February 24, 2022, when Russia launched the full-scale war against Ukraine. It describes the crimes Russians have committed against Ukrainian cultural figures and documents cases of deliberate destruction of monuments and cultural institutions. The report preparation included interviews with writers, civic activists, and Ukrainian ex-prisoners of the Kremlin.

"Erasure of Ukrainian culture and identity was one of the goals of Russia as it occupied Crimea and Eastern Ukrainian territories in 2014 and launched the full-scale war against Ukraine in February 2022. It’s of crucial importance to understand that these imperial attempts of Russia to eradicate Ukrainian language and culture have not begun nine months or nine years ago but been ongoing for centuries now. This report demonstrates the scale of Ukrainian cultural losses after February 24, 2022 and proves that cultural objects were often a direct target of Russian attacks. All these cases must be documented and investigated within national and international judicial mechanisms, while all the criminals involved in the death of Ukrainian cultural figures and loss of our cultural heritage must be prosecuted," states Tetyana Teren, executive director of PEN Ukraine.

During the trip, the delegation of PEN America also visited towns and villages affected by Russia’s war against Ukraine. The authors have seen ruined buildings and libraries of Chernihiv, the village of Novoselivka destroyed by Russians’ carpet bombing, and a torture chamber arranged by the occupiers in the village of Yahidne.

In the Kyiv region, the American writers visited Irpin, Bucha, Hostomel, and Borodianka to see the impact of Russian invasion and attempts to seize the Ukrainian capital city of Kyiv with their own eyes.

Besides, in Kyiv and Lviv, the members of the delegation had a series of meetings with Ukrainian human rights activists, foreign journalists, managers of cultural institutions, and representatives of U. S. Embassy in Ukraine and Ukrainian Ministry of Culture and Informational Policy.

The American writers also visited the Dovzhenko Center to express their solidarity to the institution team and support their demands to the Ukrainian government.

At the end of the visit, PEN Ukraine and PEN America conducted a joint conversation "Talking About War: Is the World Ready to Listen to Ukraine?" at Kyiv Mohyla Academy. The event was moderated by Volodymyr Yermolenko, philosopher, journalist and president of PEN Ukraine. The conversation concerned the ways of telling the world about the war reality and amplifying Ukraine’s voice internationally.

Photo: Oleksandr Khomenko, Oleksii Karpovych
Tags: #War
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