International PEN Writers in Prison Committee News
International PEN Writers in Prison Committee Newsletter No. 28 Date 21 March 2006
Welcome to the Writers in Prison Committee of International PEN (WIPC)'s electronic newsletter. This newsletter provides the latest news from the WiPC and PEN Centres worldwide.
*6th Writers in Prison Committee Conference: Istanbul*
*International PEN Statement in Response to Danish Cartoons*
*Arrests of Editors and Journalists for Publication of Cartoons*
*Court Case Against Orhan Pamuk Dropped*
*International Women's Day: Lydia Cacho*
**6th Writers in Prison Committee Conference in Istanbul**
More than 50 representatives from PEN Centres in 23 countries gathered in Istanbul between 2 and 4 March 2006 for the 6th Writers in Prison Committee conference, hosted by the Turkish Centre of International PEN. At meetings focusing on PEN's global agenda, members planned the launch of a campaign against insult and criminal defamation laws under which writers and journalists are imprisoned worldwide, including under Article 301 in Turkey. Other key issues discussed included the recent uproar over Danish cartoons, impunity, the role of internet service providers in offering information on writers, especially in China, and the pressure by the Russian government on Russian PEN. The PEN Conference also featured a panel on "Freedom of _Expression in Turkey Today" with Fatih Tas, owner of Aram Publishing House, Oya Aydin, attorney, Ismet Berkan, editor-in-chief of Radikal and Fikret Ilkiz, attorney.
For further information on the conference please go to: http://www.internationalpen.org.uk/index.php?pid=33&aid=446
**International PEN Statement in Response to Danish Cartoons**
Following the escalation of tensions internationally between the Western Media and Muslim communities regarding the publication in Denmark and other European countries of cartoons depicting the Prophet Mohammed, International PEN made a statement on 6 February calling on its worldwide membership to 'oppose any form of suppression of freedom of _expression in the country or community to which they belong, as well as throughout the world'.
The statement also stressed International PEN's commitment to the 'unhampered transmission of thought' and called for those on all sides of the dispute to refrain from taking any action that might inflame tensions further'.
For the full text of the statement please go to: http://www.internationalpen.org.uk/index.php?pid=33&aid=431&query=cartoon
**Arrests of Editors and Journalists for Publication of Cartoons**
In response to the arrests and detention of several editors and journalists for the publication of the cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed originally published in Denmark, PEN has issued Rapid Action alerts on the following cases: Editors Hashem al-Khalidi and Jihad Momani who were arrested and are facing prison sentences in Jordan.
For the full RAN report please go to: http://www.internationalpen.org.uk/index.php?pid=33&aid=435&query=cartoons
Journalists Abdel Halina Akram Sabra, Yahya Al Aabed and Mohammed Al Asaadi who were arrested in Yemen.
For the full RAN report please go to: http://www.internationalpen.org.uk/index.php?pid=33&aid=442&query=cartoons
Editors Kamel Bousaad and Berkane Bouderbala who were arrested in Algeria.
For the full RAN report please go to: http://www.internationalpen.org.uk/index.php?pid=33&aid=439&query=cartoons
**Court Case against Orhan Pamuk Dropped**
In a statement of 24 January 2006, International PEN "greeted with relief" the decision of the Court presiding over the case of the Turkish writer Orhan Pamuk not to proceed with the case. However, concerns about the right to Freedom of _Expression in Turkey have not been assuaged. In the past twelve months PEN has monitored over sixty cases of writers, journalists and publishers who were bought before the courts or faced with prosecution for their writings. Around fifteen of these are currently on trial on charges of "insult" under Article 301, similar charges to those levied against Pamuk for his reference in a newspaper article to the mass killings of Armenians by the Ottoman Empire in 1915.
For the full text of International PEN's update please go to: http://www.ifex.org/en/content/view/full/71797
**International Women's Day**
International PEN marked Women's Day on 8 March 2006 by focusing upon the case of the Mexican activist, writer and journalist Lydia Cacho who is currently facing trial under charges of criminal defamation related to her exposure of the connection between businessman José Camel Nacif Borge and alleged child pornographer Jean Succar Kari in the book Los Demonios del Edén. If convicted of criminal defamation she could be subject to a sentence of up to four years in prison.
The following is an extract from the inspirational Cacho's Los Demonios del Edén:
'Writing or reading a book on the abuse and trade of children is neither easy nor enjoyable. Nevertheless, it is more dangerous for society to remain silent about this phenomenon. Whilst society and the State looks on, thousands of children are victims of dealers who turn them into sexual objects to be traded and enjoyed by millions of men who find in child pornography and the sexual abuse of children a thing of delight which has no ethical repercussions'
To read the full article on Lydia Cacho please go to: http://www.internationalpen.org.uk/index.php?pid=33&aid=448
NEWS FROM PEN CENTRES **
American PEN Centre Files Lawsuit against Patriot Act Provision** On 25 January 2006 the American PEN Centre joined two national academic associations and the ACLU in filing a lawsuit which challenges a provision of the Patriot Act used by the U.S government to bar prominent writers and scholars who are critical of U.S policies from visiting the United States. Section 411 of the Patriot Act, which was further expanded in 2005, allows the government to refuse admission to the United States to individuals who "endorse or espouse terrorist activity" or "persuade others to support or espouse terrorist activity". However, the provision has been used as the basis for revoking the visa of Swiss-born, internationally recognised Muslim scholar and writer Tariq Ramadan, which prevented him from assuming a tenured position he had been offered at the University of Notre Dame. Ramadan has consistently condemned terrorism in his public statements and writings.
Salman Rushdie, president of the American PEN Centre, said: "We are joining this lawsuit because the government's exclusion of Professor Ramadan illustrates how the Patriot Act and other post 9/11 laws and policies may be serving to increase American isolation at a time when international dialogue is more critical than ever."
For the full account of American PEN's Challenge to the Patriot Act please go to: http://www.pen.org/viewmedia.php/prmMID/569/prmID/278
**Latest Sydney PEN Quarterly Newsletter**
Sydney PEN issued the latest issue of its quarterly newspaper in December 2005 focusing on Turkey and featuring articles on Orhan Pamuk, Article 301 of the Turkish Penal Code and the work of Turkish poets Hidayet Ceylan and Ferit Berk alongside news from the public forum of the Asia and Pacific Writers Network and features on reading in the Philippines and 'Freedom and Risk for Writers in the Age of the Internet' in China.
For more on Sydney PEN's activities please go to: http://www.pen.org.au/
**Latest English PEN Newsletter**
The English PEN Centre has issued its February 2006 Newsletter featuring news of great significance to their No Offence Campaign: 'the triumph of the Lord's Amendment to the Incitement to Religious Hatred Bill in the House of Commons, which will help to ensure protection of free speech'. Future events are profiled, including the Readers and Writers Site Visits, taking writers and their books into 'struggling schools, prisons, [and] young offender centres' amongst other places. New members and awards are also announced.
For more on English PEN's activities please go to: http://www.englishpen.org/
**Latest Scottish PEN Newsletter**
The Scottish PEN Centre has issued its latest newsletter which features news of a newly established Scottish PEN Writers In Exile Committee and news of a new PEN office in the centre of Edinburgh and a website relaunch. Also addressed in their Winter newsletter is the 'Empty Chair' for the then imprisoned Iranian writer Akbar Ganji (now recently released) at the International Festival of Authors in Toronto symbolising 'all the writers who can't attend festivals such as this because they are in prison just for expressing ideas' and the remembrance of the 10th anniversary of the execution of Ken Saro-Wiwa on International PEN's Writers in Prison day on 10th November 2005.
For more on Scottish PEN's activities please go to: http://www.scottishpen.org/
NEWS FROM ELSEWHERE
**CPJ releases annual publication Attacks on the Press in four cities**
CPJ's annual survey recounts a violent year in Iraq, described as 'the deadliest conflict for journalists in a quarter-century'. Other significant trends featured in the latest edition include the assassinations of journalists in the Middle East, a surge in government persecution in Africa, pervasive censorship in Latin America and the widespread jailing of reporters from China to Cuba.
For more on the work of CPJ please go to: http://www.cpj.org/
**Reporters Sans Frontières Organises Conference to Discuss Cartoons Crisis**
Reporters Sans Frontières organised a Conference in Paris on 9 February 2006 to discuss the Mohammed Cartoons Crisis. The conference was attended by politicians, officials, diplomats, intellectuals and journalists. Odon Vallet the French Historian commented during the conference that "It may be increasingly hard in a globalised world to reconcile freedom of _expression and respect, but we have to try."
For a fuller account of the Conference and further comments please go to: http://www.rsf.org/IMG/pdf/RSFCaricaturesEng.pdf
**Human Rights Watch Launches World Report 2006**
Human Rights Watch has launched its 2006 World Report, examining the state of human rights, including freedom of _expression and press freedom, in 68 countries. This year's report highlights Human Rights Watch's concerns about the U.S government's use of torture as a tool to fight terrorism.
To view the report in full please go to: http://www.hrw.org/wr2k6/index.htm
** International Federation of Journalists Launch 2005 Report with Conferences**
On 23 January the International Federation of Journalists held global press conferences in Athens, Bogata, Brussels, Caracas, Copenhagen, Dakar, Freetown, London, Mogadishu, Sydney and Washington for the launch of their 2005 report 'Targeting and Tragedy Journalists and Media Casualties in the Field of Journalism and Newsgathering'. At the conferences IFJ condemned a "culture of neglect and indifference" over killings of journalists, as the death toll reached 150, the highest ever, for journalists and media staff in 2005.
For a comprehensive overview of attacks on freedom of _expression world-wide updated daily, check the International Freedom of _Expression Exchange, a network of international, regional and national freedom of _expression organisations who exchange information and stage joint actions on behalf of writers and journalists attacked in the practice of their professions.
RAPID ACTION NETWORK ALERTS
The latest alerts from the Writers in Prison Committee.
20 March: Iran: Dissident journalist Akbar Ganji released. http://www.internationalpen.org.uk/index.php?pid=33&aid=451
9 March: Libya: Internet journalist freed in mass amnesty http://www.internationalpen.org.uk/index.php?pid=33&aid=450
8 March: China: Journalist Li Yuanlong charged with 'inciting subversion' for articles posted online. http://www.internationalpen.org.uk/index.php?pid=33&aid=449
6 March: Bangladesh: Journalist Salah Uddin Shoaib Chaudhury receives death threat http://www.internationalpen.org.uk/index.php?pid=33&aid=447
27 February: Bangladesh: Journalist Salah Uddin Shoaib Chaudhury to stand trial http://www.internationalpen.org.uk/index.php?pid=33&aid=445
24 February: Democratic Republic of Congo: Two newspaper editors remain detained http://www.internationalpen.org.uk/index.php?pid=33&aid=443&query=CONGO
22 February: Iraq: Writer Kamal Syid Qadir transferred to a prison hospital; serious health concerns http://www.ifex.org/en/content/view/full/72417
20 February: Iran: Extreme concern for the safety of writer and journalist Elham Afroutan (f) http://www.internationalpen.org.uk/index.php?pid=33&aid=441&query=elham%20af routan
15 February: Turkey: Publisher Ragip Zarakolu trials postponed for a further two months http://www.internationalpen.org.uk/index.php?pid=33&aid=437&query=ragip%20za raklou
15 February: Vietnam: Grave concerns for the health of internet writer and dissident Pham Hong Son http://www.internationalpen.org.uk/index.php?pid=33&aid=440&query=pham%20hon g%20son
15 February: Algeria: Two editors arrested for publishing cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed http://www.internationalpen.org.uk/index.php?pid=33&aid=439&query=algeria
14 February: Iran: Journalist and writer Elham Afroutan (f) and up to six other journalists arrested for the publication of a satirical article; fears for safety http://www.internationalpen.org.uk/index.php?pid=33&aid=438&query=elham%20af routan
9 February: Turkey: Writer Hrant Dink freed: trials against other journalists continue http://www.internationalpen.org.uk/index.php?pid=33&aid=433&query=hrant%20di nk
9 February: China: Editor dies following police beating after reporting on corruption; two more writers arrested http://www.internationalpen.org.uk/index.php?pid=33&aid=434&query=china
8 February: Jordan: Two editors arrested and charged: health concerns http://www.internationalpen.org.uk/index.php?pid=33&aid=435&query=jordan
7 February: Russia: Journalist and human rights defender issued two-year suspended sentence and four-year probation period http://www.internationalpen.org.uk/index.php?pid=33&aid=436&query=russia
31 January: Vietnam: Internet writer released http://www.internationalpen.org.uk/index.php?pid=33&aid=429&query=vietnam
23 January: Turkey: International PEN calls on Turkish authorities to end all trials against writers following decision to drop proceedings against Orhan Pamuk http://www.internationalpen.org.uk/index.php?pid=33&aid=427&query=orhan%20pa muk
Anti-Terrorism, Writers and Freedom of _Expression - A PEN report. Click here for English, French and Spanish versions. http://www.internationalpen.org.uk/dev/viewArticles.asp?findID_=41
Click here for the German version http://www.pen-deutschland.de/deutsch/download/Anti-Terrorismus_IPWiPC.doc
WiPC Caselist July to December 2005 now available Click