Having signed the Membership Agreement and joined ICORN in 2013, Jönköping County marked its special day with an extensive programme celebrating the 10-year long commitment to freedom of expression, human rights, and democracy.
The day’s contributions focused on the ways in which municipalities can work towards providing spaces for free expression. The programme underlined the vital literary, artistic, and journalistic work of the ICORN residents in Jönköping County, Ali Thareb, Ali Al Ibrahim, and Julia Olivera, as well as others across Sweden, and beyond.
Kicking off with a speech by Kerstin Hammar, Chairperson of the Committee for Labour Market and Business, the celebrations went on to shine light on the various parts of the ICORN network. From writers, artists, and journalists to ICORN coordinators, decision-makers and other actors, the programme was informative for all, whether familiar or not with the work of ICORN Cities of Refuge.
Investigative journalist Ali Al Ibrahim and poet Ali Thareb, both former ICORN residents in Jönköping County, took part in the festive programme, demonstrating the impact of their work in old and new arenas alike. Al Ibrahim’s internationally acclaimed documentary film ‘One Day in Aleppo’ was screened, followed by an interview, while Thareb spoke of the unpredictable power of his award-winning poetry and performance art.
Two other artists who have been in ICORN residencies in Sweden, oud musician Yasmine El Baramawy and rapper and hip-hop artist Khaled Harara also took part in the anniversary celebrations. Both artists shared their experiences of working under threat, finding protection, and how this affected their careers. El Baramawy also performed musical pieces on the oud.
The day’s programme also reflected the valuable efforts of ICORN coordinators in cities, regions, countries, and across the ICORN network. Anna Hjerpe, ICORN coordinator in Lund, Sweden, talked about her day-to-day tasks, working closely with ICORN residents, whether they choose to be public or not, and cooperating with other Cities of Refuge.
An importance and unique perspective into the coordination of ICORN regions was given by Johanna Lindström, coordinator of Västra Götaland County. She shared knowledge and experiences from her daily work and presented the ‘Fristad Utställningen’ project, an exhibition about the work of ICORN Cities of Refuge presented across Sweden.
Elisabeth Dyvik, ICORN’s Programme Director, joined the celebrations with a presentation on ICORN’s work and a speech saying:
‘10 years ago, Jönköping County decided to work for freedom of expression, both symbolically and concretely. 10 years later, you have really made it happen and made a difference’.
We congratulate Jönköping County on its 10th anniversary as ICORN member and look forward to continuing our common work and commitment to free expression, human rights, and democracy.