Bristol Ideas: Democracy and Freedom of Expression series

This event is part of a 2021 series on democracy and freedom of expression. Bristol Ideas are committed to looking at solutions to the great challenges that face us – what individuals, leaders, mayors, councils, governments, cities, communities, nations and others can do to support, strengthen and extend democracy and freedom of expression.

The series includes: programmes on the future of democracy, May elections, the monarchy, constitutions, English devolution, House of Lords reform, votes at 16; work exploring freedom of expression through the year; and a focus on democracy and cities in Festival of the Future City (20-21 October).

The project partners include English PEN, Prospect Magazine, the Institute for Policy Research, University of Bath and the Observer. More events will be launched soon. Join the conversation on social media using the hashtags #FOIDemocracy and #CommonCurrency

About the speakers

Nurcan Baysal is a Kurdish writer and human rights defender from Diyarbakır, Turkey. She is the author of O Gün (That Day), Kürdistan’da Sivil Toplum (Civil Society in Kurdistan), Ezidiler: 73. Ferman (Ezidis: 73rd Verdict) and O Sesler (Those Voices). She is also a columnist for Ahvalnews. She is one of the founders of the Platform to Save Women Kidnapped by ISIS and Diyarbakir Political and Social Research Institute (DISA). She is a member of the women’s movement and several peace movements in Turkey, as well as an advisor or board member for a number of different non-profit organisations. In 2017, she was awarded the Brave Women Journalists Award by the Italian Women Journalists Association. She was named Global Laureate for Human Rights Defenders at Risk by Front Line Defenders in 2018.

Zarghuna Kargar was born in Kabul. When civil war erupted across Afghanistan, she and her family escaped to Pakistan, and it was there that Zarghuna attended a journalism course organised by the BBC. In 2001, her family sought asylum in the UK, and she started working for the BBC World Service Pashtu Section. She joined the team on Afghan Woman’s Hour as producer and presenter in 2004, until it was discontinued in 2010. She now works on current affairs programmes for the BBC Afghan Service.

Jennifer Clement is President of PEN International and author of Prayers for the Stolen, A True Story Based on Lies, The Poison that Fascinates and the memoir Widow Basquiat.

Image credit: Omar Meneses

A partnership between

What is Common Currency?

English PEN sits at the intersection of literature and advocacy, championing the freedom to write and the freedom to read.

Common Currency is our centenary programme - a unique project that combines timely debates on freedom of expression, creative campaigning and a celebration of diverse voices. It seeks to ignite a national conversation around issues of freedom of expression, led by writers and readers.

Every event in our programme is inspired by one of three key themes, based on our 100-year history:

1. Free speech and democracy

2. Languages and ideas

3. Celebrating women