Index on Censorship
London ~ United Kingdom
In 1972 Stephen Spender founded Index on Censorship with the aim of promoting freedom of expression for writers and intellectuals, journalists and artists. He did so in response to an open letter in The Times from Soviet dissidents Pavel Litvinov and Larisa Bogoraz Daniel. A group of western intellectuals, including Spender himself, Yehudi Menuhin and W.H. Auden, reacted with the following telegram: 'We, a group of friends, representing no organisation, support your statement, admire your courage, think of you and will help in any way possible.' The first issue of 'Index on Censorship' was published shortly afterwards. Index on Censorship is an organisation that stands up for people who are persecuted because of their ideas and literary activity, particularly in the 'South'. Their plight is highlighted in a magazine which exposes such injustices. 'Index' has been publishing uncensured articles right from the start. The editors have also drawn political attention to cases of cultural and political abuse. In 1974 'Index' publicised the muzzling of the Chilean press following the coup. Between 1978 and 1986 it reported on executions and disappearances in Guatemala. In the mid-eighties it supported Sudanese journalists who were being persecuted and tortured for reporting on hunger and poverty in their country. Index is to be congratulated on its 25th anniversary. The Prince Claus Fund pays tribute to an initiative which opened up the way towards free, independent literary publishing, and to its courageous and longstanding activities on behalf of freedom of literary expression, especially in non-western countries.