By Porter Anderson, Editor-in-Chief | @Porter_Anderson
Ukraine: A New Focal Point for MeinungsfreiheitIn its media messaging today (April 8), the Börsenverein des Deutschen Buchhandels, Germany’s publishers and booksellers association, has set May 3 to 10 as the dates for a second iteration of the country’s Freedom of Expression Week—Woche der Meinungsfreiheit.
Publishing Perspectives readers will recall that last year’s inaugural effort drew broad-based support, with nearly 35 partners including Amnesty International, Reporters Without Borders, Frankfurter Buchmesse, PEN Center Germany, the Eintracht Frankfurt sports club and its influential president Peter Fischer, the Gutenberg Book Guild, the Anne Frank Educational Center, and the Goethe-Institut.
At the heart of the program is a drive for a widening body of signatories to a Freedom of Speech Charter. The document has 11 principles and is discussed in association with the hashtag #MehrAlsMeineMeinung or, roughly, My Opinion Isn’t the Only One that Counts.
In a statement on today’s call for participation, the Börsenverein general manager, Peter Kraus vom Cleff, says, “Russia’s horrific attack on Ukraine is the current low point in a startling development: Autocratic regimes are increasingly and more brutally taking action against people, their rights and freedoms.
“Freedom of speech is often one of the first to be suppressed.
“That urges us all to act if we care about the values of liberal democracy. With the Freedom of Speech Week, we want to set an example as a broad social alliance: for free speech, human dignity, democratic participation, equality for all, for peace.”
In its sophomore year, the program is carrying shades of new significance, of course.
The text issued to news people starts with the phrase Solidarity With Ukraine, pointing out, “The repression of independent and critical voices has increased worldwide in the past year. With the Russian war of aggression against Ukraine, the lives and basic rights of people in Europe are under acute threat.
“The current context of the week of freedom of expression is therefore more explosive than ever.”
The second point of the charter reads (emphasis ours), “Freedom of expression includes the right to information, freedom of the press, and freedom to publish and report.”
All those freedoms are being trampled by Putin’s suppression of independent news outlets, and a furious crackdown on public acts of dissent in Russia.
This year, some 40 companies, foundations, clubs, and associations are partnering on the German demonstrations. of the action week, the. Many publishers and bookstores are involved with events, themed tables or campaigns. items on the program have already been set. The calendar of events is available here.
Participants in the 2022 Freedom of Expression Week
From the campaign’s social media channels:
Follow our coverage of Vladimir Putin’s war on Ukraine and its impact on the country’s publishing players and international industry reactions.
More from us on the coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on international book publishing is here.