Writers opt out of independence anniversary celebration

Ljubljana – The Slovenian Writers’ Association (DSP) has decided it will not take part in the celebration of Slovenia’s 30th independence anniversary following revelations that Prime Minister Janez Janša has banned some government officials from making public appearances.

“The DSP, which has provided the foundation for Slovenia’s independence 30 years ago and has been involved in initial preparations for marking this wonderful anniversary led by Slovenian President Borut Pahor, will not take part in the events planned on this occasion,” the DSP wrote in a press release on Monday, Culture Day.

Slovenia took a key step toward its independence as a declaration demanding the country’s sovereignty was read out at a mass rally in Ljubljana’s Congress Square on 8 May 1989 in support of a group jailed by Yugoslav authorities for allegedly disclosing military secrets. One of them was Janša.

The document, known as the May Declaration, was compiled by the DSP and the first opposition parties in what was still a single-party system. The document was read out by late writer Tone Pavček.

The DSP said yesterday it had decided to opt out of the independence celebration because the prime minister seems to have all the power in his hands. “It is not only about leading the country, he is closing it in a cage of narrow-mindedness. He has become the only speaker of truth about the state of affairs in all fields. Thus, he is shaking the foundations of democracy – from the freedom of speech to the rights of citizens to proper information.”

This comes after media reported that some government officials and advisers failed to get clearance from the Government Communication Office (UKOM) to appear on news shows.

The DSP also called on all MPs to stand up to this, and stop cooperating with the government to “break the chain of fear and extortion”, which has been “increasingly limiting and destroying both them and the Slovenian society”.

“Because of the prime minister’s actions a terrible whirlpool of fear and silence has been rising in Slovenia. It does not take courage to stand up to such actions, all you have to do is follow the goal and truth we are all committed too – the well-being of citizens and this country,” the association said.

Writers also urged other senior officials in economy, judiciary, prosecution, police and elsewhere to “take off the masks of silence they are forced to wear” and present the truth about the situation in their fields publicly to keep citizens posted on the situation that defines “our common life and work in Slovenia”.

The office of President Borut Pahor said in a response that the president would like to see the DSP continue participating in the preparations for the anniversary celebrations.

The press release adds that Pahor is convinced that a “joint and inclusive celebration of the ground breaking events and important achievements of the independence is our common task”.

Pahor noted that, after the first meeting of the organising committee on 20 January, its members had agreed “that an effort should be made so that the 30th anniversary … is celebrated by us all, together and everywhere in our homeland”.