WHY THIS SERIES?
Recently in Indonesia intolerant groups, sometimes with help from the authorities, have been attacking and forcefully disbanding discussions, book launches, performances, film screenings, festivals, and other cultural events. Military men seized books from personal possessions and bookstores. For a long list of such violations to citizens’ right to free expression, see http://id.safenetvoice.org/pelanggaranekspresi/.
Those attacks occurred despite the fact that since the fall of the authoritarian New Order regime in 1998, Indonesia has amended the constitution and signed laws to guarantee freedom of expression along with other human rights.
To stand up against forced cancellations of cultural events and the seizing of books, InterSastra is publishing an online series of Banned Literature in Translation, featuring short works by writers from Indonesia and around the world who have been censored, banned, or physically attacked for what they wrote.
WHAT WE HOPE TO ACCOMPLISH AND HOW
By publishing the series we wish to express a spirit of defiance to the authorities who think they could curb our freedom to read. We want to stand in solidarity with the banned writers and acknowledge their courage to keep writing in face of oppression. The series will show that works that were banned often have found a large audience, gained many awards, or sparked meaningful change. Our readers will see that the fight to protect our freedom to write, read, and express ourselves is not in vain.
The works will be translated into 3 languages: Indonesian, English, and Norwegian. The first because we want to respond to the attacks and bans in Indonesia, the second because we wish to attract as wide readership as possible, and the third because the series’ editor, Eliza Vitri Handayani, who is also the founder of InterSastra, spends half the year in Norway, where she finds many supporters for the series.
We will also publish Q&As with featured authors to discuss their writing life and experiences facing censorship. Readers can learn about the situation regarding freedom of expression around the world—from Indonesia to the Middle East, Cuba, China and elsewhere.
The Banned Literature in Translation series in its first stage will run for 1 year, from January to December 2017, publishing a new work every week (novel excerpt, short story, or poems) and Q&As every other week.
InterSastra has good relations with international literary translation organizations and networks—we can seek translators among their members to translate the short works. InterSastra also has good relations with organizations working with freedom of expression, which can help connect us with authors who can contribute to the series.
After the series has launched, we will issue press releases to encourage coverage and reviews of the series in Norwegian, Indonesian, and international media, and a wide range of websites and other outlets.
Future plans include working with publishers (English, Norwegian, Indonesian) to publish the series as a book, we believe it will lift the profile and widen the readership of the series. If we get enough funding and support, we will launch the series at various literary events in Indonesia, Norway, and other countries. Collaborating with the event organizers, we can also invite writers featured in the series to give talks or workshops, provided that it is safe for them to do so.
The series so far has published works translated into Indonesian only: http://www.intersastra.com/blog/sastra-terlarang. We have published 5 writers who have been jailed, exiled, or threatened with violence because of what they wrote. The authorities have burned their books. Despite all that, they keep writing without compromising their vision, and they donated their work to the series for free. Each work in the series has gained hundreds of readers—we need there to be more. The series can function as an attractive angle for the media to report on the issue of censorship. Actions of solidarity can be held in many countries by reading the translated works. But in order to realize all that, we need your help. We need to be able to pay our writers and translators so that the series can feature more works, reach more readers, and have a greater impact. We need your support to expand the series into a multilingual source for people to read banned works.
THANK YOU VERY MUCH
PS. Thank you to Aliansi Aktivis Literasi who arranged a gathering of literary activists to protest the recent seizing of books, and who provided the background cover image. Thank you to Vendy Methodos who also provided images.
Risks and challenges
We have close allies who are experienced in meeting government officials and the police. Our allies will help with negotiations and draw on their networks of human rights activists and lawyers, should we experience any violent protest or intimidation.
We will register our website in Norway, making it unlikely to be shut down. We will keep print-outs of the featured works so that if the site gets shut down, a new site can be put up in a short amount of time.
We take the safety of all contributing authors, translators, and editors very seriously. All participating translators and editors can choose to remain anonymous to minimize risks. Should any author, translator, or editor report of experiencing intimidation, we will call on our allies to provide assistance.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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