Purge wins the European Book Prize
Sofi Oksanen’s prize acceptance speech at the ceremony in Brussels 8.12.2010
Messieurs les presidents, messieurs les ambassadeurs et monsieur Delors, mesdames, messieurs,
It’s an honour to be awarded with this European prize. Especially because of being a half Estonian, a half Finnish author. I have been brought up at the border of East and West, at the border of totalitarian system and a democratic one. After that Estonia has regained its independancy and has become a member of European Union. It has become again a part of Europe, yet there’s still a gap between Eastern European and Western European countries and in my work I try to make the recent past of former Soviet countries understandable to others.
For Purge I used material which during the Soviet period was considered dangerous. That is women’s magazines from the 20s and 30s, from the period of the first independancy of Estonia. Today this kind of material sounds innocent but when I was a child it wouldn’t have been possible to take these magazines with me when I left my Estonian grandparents to go back to my home in Finland, because everything related to free Estonia was criminal and Estonian freedom fighters were considered criminals, enemies of the state.
For the novel I also used material from KGB- archives, reports, documents that have been published in Estonia after regaining the independancy. Those documents reveal cruel measures and tools KGB used against people who in the eyes of Soviet Union were criminals, dangerous for the security of Soviet Union.
During the Soviet period I became very familiar with the censorship, what’s it like to live without freedom of speech and what’s it like to live in a country where official truth has little to do with the real life events in the state. The official truth that made crimes againts humanity disappear. The official truth that made victims disappear. That official truth justified occupations, crimes against humanity and fabrication of the facts. Official truth that was justified by the security of the state.
At the moment we are living a revolutionary period in journalism, thanks to Wikileaks and Julian Assange. This is a moment when we are testing the limits of free word in countries that consider themselves democratic and free. We are testing how much these countries are respecting the attempts to reveal human rights crimes. We are testing how much do we respect truth.
Shame on them who try to ban Wikileaks - banning Wikileaks and manhunting Assange is not very European. Future generations will watch these events with scornful eyes and they will spit on those who try to hide crimes againts humanity and corruption.
I appeal to all the nerds in the world to save Wikileaks.
I appeal to all the Europeans to support Wikileaks.
For the sake of transparency
for the sake of free word
for the sake of justice
for the sake of European values, freedom of speech and human rights.