Iryna Khalip and Tom Stoppard receive Pinter Award
7:53, — Politics
Prestigious Harold Pinter prize this year goes to the Belarusian journalist and British playwright.
The prize established in 2009 is awarded by the United Kingdom’s PEN club.
Sir Tom Stoppard was the winner of the prize back in July this year. Yesterday in the evening the playwright reported that the Belarusian journalist Iryna Khalip will also receive the award for writers for being a “writer of courage”.
Tom Stoppard made this announcement at a public event in British Library on Monday as he officially received the prize awarded to him by a judge Christopher Blend, last year’s nominee Carol Ann Daffy, Harold Pinter’s widow Antonia Fraser and British PEN club’s president Gillian Slovo.
The prize was established in 2009 by the British PEN club in the honor of Harold Pinter, who was an active participant of the Writers in Prison Committee. It is awarded to a British writer, who demonstrates, to put in the words of Harold Pinter’s Nobel speech, “a firm, inflexible and ardent intellectual determination”. The winner shares the award with a foreign writer, who faces persecution or imprisonment for his/her views.
According to Sir Tom Stoppard, Iryna Khalip deserves the recognition of her courage for criticizing the authoritarian regime, despite intimidations and imprisonment. “I started off as a journalist and I’m proud to share the prize with a brave reporter”, - he claimed.
“Harold would have welcomed Tom’s wining the prize with enthusiasm as a great admirer of his creative work. He would have been especially glad that Iryna got the award, since the Belarusian issue was close to his heart”, - Antonia Fraser, Harold Pinter’s widow, noted.
“It is a great honor for me to be here today and receive this honorable award from Tom Stoppard’s hands. I want to thank the British PEN center and Tom, but the main thing I want to say is that you all have already done much more for me, - Iryna Khalip said. – When I was in prison first and then under house arrest and was completely isolated, I did not know that hundreds of letters and postcards were coming to my address from Great Britain in the meanwhile with the words of support and solidarity. I was able to read them only afterwards – a huge stack of letters, almost every one of which said: “from the English PEN center I learnt that you are under house arrest. I want you to know: we here in England are solidary with you and are praying for you”. Some English people sent me parcels with books, but they would certainly have a letter or a postcard with a reference to the PEN center. I still do not know whether it was a some kind action or a part of a general campaign of supporting politically imprisoned writers. What I do know for sure is that in that awful time, when I was released with a postponement of the verdict for two years, and my husband was sentenced to five years in prison, and our son only turned four, these letters and postcards with British stamps on them helped me a lot. I am still keeping these letters and will always keep them. As well as the gratitude to the British PEN center will always remain in my heart”.
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