Autodafe: Thessaloniki City of Asylum
An initiative of Cultural Olympiad 2001-2004 with the cooperation of the International Parliament of Writers (IPW), bears fruits and Thessaloniki officially becomes a member of the international Network of Cities of Asylum. In this context, the city hosts a number of cultural events, mostly on literature and poetry, that will be taking place in different venues of the city and the surroundings.
The events will be unfolding throughout a whole year, from September 2002 to September 2003.
Since its creation in 1994, the International Parliament of Writers (IPW) has set up a network of Cities, which would host writers and artists persecuted in their countries. Today, the Cities of Asylum Network includes about thirteen cities and Regions all around the world.
Its program has enabled the IPW to host authors from Afghanistan, Algeria, Burma, China, Cuba, Iran, Nigeria, Uzbekistan, Vietnam... The writer hosted in a City of Asylum is considered to be an ambassador of his own language and culture. He is a symbol of an open and multicultural citizenship, an active witness of the dialogue between cultures.
The Charter of Cities of Asylum, adopted by the Council of Europe on 31 May 1995, and approved by the European Parliament in its resolution of 21 September 1995, constitutes the legal and institutional framework in which the terms for providing asylum to the writers in the Network of Cities of Asylum are specified.
According to the agreement established by the Charter, the Cities members of the Network undertake to host during one to two years an author proposed by the IPW; an appartment and a monthly grant are provided to the authors in residence.
These conditions enable the writers in residence, not only to resume their artistic activities in normal life and work conditions, to participate in the cultural life of the host City, but also to consider serenely a lasting solution to their situation.
What is Autodafe?
The word "Autodafe" came up in 1743 out of the Portuguese phrase "auto da fe," which means "act of faith." The phrase was widely used in the time of the Inquisition and meant the procedure during which heretics, condemned to die in fire, were called to make an act of faith so that they would buy back their lost souls in the underworld. In general, it means an act of doom in fire.
With time, the word acquired the meaning of "prosecution and disaster." It was also used in 1933 in Germany, when the nazis put fire to the Reichstag and burnt "disturbing" books.
After the foundation of the Cities of Asylum Network, IPW created two new tools for spreading its message: an international journal published simultaneously in eight different languages and an Internet site.
Autodafe, today, is a multilingual and multimedia platform featuring translations with the goal of disseminating censored literary works through which it will give a voice to those people and their experiences which have been silenced, to cultures which are fading and to languages that are in danger of disappearing. In Greece the journal is published by Agra Publications.