Seventeen writers, including Nobel laureates Nadine Gordimer of South Africa, Günter Grass of Germany, and Wole Soyinka of Nigeria, recently signed an open letter criticizing African and European leaders for failing to prioritize the crises in Darfur and Zimbabwe on the agenda of a major summit taking place in Lisbon this weekend. The writers accuse leaders of "political cowardice" and ask, "Why should we listen to the mighty when the mighty are deaf to the cries of the afflicted?" Other writers who signed the letter are Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, J. M. Coetzee, Mia Couto, Roddy Doyle, Jose Gil, Vaclav Havel, Colm Toibin, Gillian Slovo, Ben Okri, and Tom Stoppard.
A spokesman from Crisis Action, the international nonprofit group that released the letter, said that it would be published in several African and European periodicals. A copy has also been delivered to every government official scheduled to attend the meeting.
Leaders from the African Union and the European Union (EU) will meet for the first time since 2000 this weekend to discuss international issues, including trade and migration. The summit has also received criticism from EU governments due to the planned attendance of contentious figures Robert Mugabe, president of Zimbabwe, and leaders from Sudan. Due to the controversy surrounding Mugabe’s presence at the summit, British prime minister Gordon Brown and Czech prime minister Mirek Topolankek have chosen not to participate.