brussels city of refuge - ICORN


Passa Porta aims to make a concrete contribution in the fight against the unacceptable situation of so many writers. Some 1000 writers worldwide are known to be pestered, threatened or imprisoned due to their writings. It is difficult or impossible for them to write or speak.

Passa Porta is member of ICORN (International Cities of Refuge Network). This network unites cities or organisations committed to providing refuge to writers for a period of 1 to 2 years. They also guide them in gaining acceptance as an artist in a new political, social and cultural context. ICORN works together with PEN International to locate, contact and screen writers in distress. 

The City of Brussels actively supports the project by making an apartment available where the writer can live. It presents Brussels as a hospitable, open metropolis, committed to freedom of expression and human rights.


2016-2017: Arash Chakeri

images+press/arash_chakeri_c_mehdi_rostami.JPGArash Chakeri (b.1982, Teheran) is an Iranian singer-songwriter, poet and prose writer. His first poetry collection of ghazals, "Loneliness," was published in 2003 without permission from the Iranian Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance. For his second poetry collection "Guitar Tears" (2006), he was forced to delete a number of poems about underground political and social activism. He is a great admirer of the work of the Iranian modernist Sadegh Hedayat (Teheran, 1903 - Paris, 1951) who became famous with his widely translated novel The Blind Owl (1937). Arash Chakeri's debut novel "I Was Dead" was published in 2013 and is now only illegally available in Iran. In 2013, Chakeri published his personal song book "Your Interpreter" (2013). Chakeri has been increasingly critical towards his country's government, also calling for freedom and democracy as an activist. During the last years he has been regularly attacked, arrested and threatened. He decided to leave his country in 2015. His works have not been translated into English so far.


The Moroccan journalist Ali Amar (born 1969 - author of Mohammed VI. Le Grand Malentendu, and Paris-Marrakech) is the co-founder of the Moroccan independent weekly Le Journal, which had to cease its activities for political and financial reasons. His book on King Mohammed VI was not welcome in his country. Amar has worked for Slate and is now an editor of the new website Le Desk, which he co-founded.

2011-2013: Boris Korkmazov: Novelist and short story writer Boris Korkmazov (1958) from the Cherkessia-Karkachay region arrived in Brussels at the start of 2011. He and his wife were living in the apartment made available by the City of Brussels. He made a number of public statements critical of Russian policies, which led him to suffer attacks in his native land and in Moscow. See also the item by RTBF.

2009-2010: Dejan Anastasijevic was the first ICORN writer in Brussels. He had to leave Belgrade due to serious threats to his life and that of his wife and child. In 1998, his articles on acts of violence against ethnic Albanians in Kosovo put him in conflict with the Milosevic regime. He fled to Vienna in April 1999, during the NATO bombing and the subsequent suppression of press freedom. There he worked for Time until 2002. He returned to Belgrade, where he witnessed the downfall of Milosevic. He was the first Serbian journalist to testify against Milosevic at the International Criminal Tribunal in The Hague. His current work principally concerns organised crime and the security situation in Serbia. He also wrote Out of War (London, 2000), a highly praised book on the Serbian opposition.