All voices should be welcome at the “Crossing Borders” conference on refugees, 7-10 July 2016, organized by the Cooperative Institute for Transnational Studies (CITS) in collaboration with the University of the Aegean, and taking place on the Greek island of Lesbos. The organizers say “Today, ‘the West’ is facing the worst crisis of human dispossession since the aftermath of the Second World War. ….These urgent questions and conditions necessitate that radical activists, artists, politicians, refugees, scholars and students gather, discuss and debate.”
Unfortunately the organizers have been pressured to censor discussion and debate. A campaign was launched to disinvite keynote speaker Dr. Tim Anderson (University of Sydney). His book “The Dirty War on Syria” exposes the role of the USA and its allies in destabilizing Syria, funding and promoting the conflict that has led to the current refugee crisis. As they have in the past, some groups and individuals who support the armed opposition in Syria are trying to prevent a broader discussion.
Whatever our views about Anderson or any of the other speakers, it is wrong to silence an important voice at the conference, and especially one that expresses a repressed viewpoint. We should always be concerned when someone tries to prevent us from hearing an alternative explanation.
The advocates of censorship have said that they will ask other speakers to withdraw if Anderson is allowed to speak. That is their right. Speakers are free not to speak. But for the organizers to withdraw an invitation to a confirmed speaker is to remove that speaker’s right as well as the right of the attendees to hear him.
We call on the organizers of the conference to reject censorship and encourage open discussion and debate on the causes of dispossession and destruction leading to migration. It is essential for the conference to include voices like Dr. Tim Anderson’s and to consider the responsibility of the USA and its allies in the destruction of Syria and creation of the refugee crisis.
This petition will be delivered to:
The Cooperative Institute for Transnational Studies
Prof Stratos Georgoulas
University of Aegean / Lab EKNEXA / Sociology Dept
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