To the Editors:
A year after the death threat issued by the late Ayatollah Khomeini, Salman Rushdie remains in hiding in fear for his life. His publishers continue to be subject to a campaign of intimidation.
By lawfully exercising his right to freedom of expression, Mr. Rushdie is committing no crime. However during the last twelve months, there have been at least a dozen attacks on bookshops. Booksellers in the United Kingdom have reported numerous death threats. Similar threats have been made to Mr. Rushdie’s publishers and supporters throughout the world. In spite of this, we note a drift in the climate of opinion towards viewing Mr. Rushdie’s plight with acquiescence and complacency.
We wish to restate that it is the right of all people to express their ideas and beliefs and to discuss them with their critics on the basis of mutual tolerance, free from censorship, intimidation and violence.
On the 2nd of March, 1989, over 1,000 of Salman Rushdie’s fellow writers around the world signed a statement which appeared in 62 newspapers and journals in 22 countries. The signatories unequivocally supported Salman Rushdie’s right to freedom of expression and repudiated the death threat. The principles at stake remain unaltered. Mr. Rushdie’s fate affects the freedom of us all.
We call upon world leaders and all those in positions of influence to renew their efforts to end the persecution of Salman Rushdie and his publishers.
The signatories below represent a selection of internationally known writers who endorse this Statement.
Tariq Ali (UK), Eric Ambler (UK), Margaret Atwood (Canada),
John Banville (Ireland), Adolfo Bioy Casares (Argentina), Mongo Beti (Cameroon),
Andrei Bitov (USSR), Breyten Breytenbach (South Africa/France), Joseph Brodsky (USA/USSR),
Bill Buford (USA), Frank Chipasula (Malawi), J.M. Coetzee (South Africa),
Catherine Cookson (UK), Adel Darwish (Egypt), Margaret Drabble (UK),
Duoduo (China), Ahmad Ebrahimi (Iran), Umberto Eco (Italy), Buchi Emecheta (Nigeria),
Thomas Keneally (Australia), Ooe Kenzaburo (Japan), Ivan Klima (Czechoslovakia),
Pavel Kohout (Austria/Czechoslovakia), Georgy Konrad (Hungary),
Hanif Kureishi (UK/Pakistan), Jakov Lind (Austria), Binyan Liu (USA/China),
David Lodge (UK), Michael Marrus (Canada), Larry McMurtry (USA),
Adam Michnik (Poland), Arthur Miller (USA), Toni Morrison (USA),
Edna O’Brien (Ireland), Michael Ondaatje (Canada), Baker Ouidah (UK/West Bank),
Harold Pinter (UK), Elena Poniatowska (Mexico), Lenka Prochazková (Czechoslovakia),
Anatoly Rybakov (USSR), Ernesto Sábato (Argentina), William Shawcross (UK),
Milan Simecka (Czechoslovakia), Andrei Sinyavsky (France/USSR),
Susan Sontag (USA), Wole Soyinka (Nigeria), Stephen Spender (UK),
Graham Swift (UK), Ludvik Vaculik (Czechoslovakia), Kurt Vonnegut (USA),
Andrei Voznesensky (USSR), Derek Walcott (St. Lucia), Marianne Wiggins (USA),
Yevgeny Yevtushenko (USSR), Wim Zaal (Netherlands)
Over 14,000 people from all walks of life endorsed the original World Statement of the second of March, 1989.
This Statement is being carried by newspapers worldwide including:
Aftonbladet (Sweden); Dagbladet (Norway); Dagens Nyheter (Sweden); Der Standard (Austria); L’Espresso (Italy); Expressen (Sweden); Gazeta Wyborcza (Poland); The Guardian (UK); Harper’s (USA); Helsingen Sanomat (Finland); Hufvudstadsbladet (Finland); Information (Denmark); Independent (UK); Indian Express (India); Lidove Noviny (Czechoslovakia); New Statesman & Society (UK); Politiken (Denmark); Profil (Austria); Publishers Weekly (USA); Scotsman (UK); Sunday Correspondent (UK); Sydsvenska Dagbladet (Sweden); El Tiempo (Colombia); Times Literary Supplement (UK); de Volkskrant (Netherlands).
Organizations constituting the International Committee for the Defence of Salman Rushdie and his Publishers (Chairperson: Frances D’Souza, Article 19) include:
ACT I, Article 19, Arts Council of Great Britain, Association of Authors’ Agents, Black Voices in Support of Salman Rushdie and The Satanic Verses, Booksellers Association of Great Britain and Ireland, Book Trust, Charter 88, English Centre of International PEN, Independent Publishers Guild, Index on Censorship, International Booksellers’ Federation, International Press Institute, Islington Friends of Salman Rushdie, Liberty-NCCL, Library Association, National Campaign for the Arts, National Union of Journalists, New Statesman and Society, Poets International, Publishers Association, Society of Authors, Tara Arts Group/Black Theatre Forum, Theatre Writers Union, Writers Guild of Great Britain.
The following have endorsed the above statement:
Norwegian Writers’ Union, Norwegian Non-Fiction Writers’ Association, IG Autoren (Austria).
International Salman Rushdie Committee
PO Box 49
London SE1 1LX, UKHD4
April 12, 1990