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Writers in Prison Committee Newsletter

International PEN Writers in Prison Committee Newsletter No. 31 21 October 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. Any comments and suggestions about the content and layout of the newsletter, as well as contributions from PEN Centres, will be gratefully received at


** PEN members mourn Anna Politkovskaya **
** Congratulations to Orhan Pamuk on Nobel Prize for Literature**
** PEN Observes Trial of Elif Shafak in Turkey **
** PEN Raises Concerns on China at the United Nations Council on Human Rights **
** Freedom of Expression Theme at Göteborg Book Fair **
** American PEN Protests US Government surveillance **
** Canadian PEN – Paul Kidd Courage Prize and PEN Canada One Humanity Award **



** PEN members mourn Anna Politkovskaya **

International PEN was appalled at the death of the journalist and author Anna Politkovskaya on 7 October 2006. She was shot death at her home in Moscow. Anna Politkovskaya, because of her work as a journalist covering human rights issues on the war in Chechnya, had been receiving threats since 1989. Despite this, she continued her work as a journalist, and published two books on the war in Chechnya. Various Russian human rights observers, as well as the deputy editor of the newspaper where she worked ‘Novaya Gazeta,’ shared the view that her murder is link to her work.

Politkovskaya’s death was mourned by PEN members. Messages of tribute have been sent from International PEN has been sent to her family and colleagues.

To see the complete statement of International PEN on the death of Anna Politkovskaya please refer to:

To see the document of tributes please refer to:

** Congratulations to Orhan Pamuk on Nobel Prize for Literature**

International PEN congratulated Orhan Pamuk on being awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature. International PEN is delighted that the work of this writer is recognised and celebrated. Orhan Pamuk, an advocate on freedom of expression, was himself on trial under Article 301 of the Turkish Penal Code for insulting ‘Turkishness’ earlier this year. His example will serve to highlight the situation in which many writers and journalists are in Turkey for solely expressing their opinions.

For more information on Orhan Pamuk please refer to:

** PEN Observes Trial of Elif Shafak in Turkey **

The trial of leading Turkish novelist, Elif Shafak who was charged with "insult to Turkishness" for her novel The Bastard of Istanbul ended with acquittal following its first hearing on 21 September. PEN Board Member Eugene Schoulgin and WiPC Programme Director, Sara Whyatt, were present at the trial. For the full story click:,,1877748,00.html

** PEN Raises Concerns on China at the United Nations Council on Human Rights **

At the second session of the UN Council on Human Rights, held from 18 September to 6 October, PEN’s Writers in Prison Committee raised the issue of detentions of writers in China. There are 33 writers known to be held in China in contravention of their right to freedom of expression. To see the web cast click:

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** Freedom of Expression Theme at Göteborg Book Fair **

This year Freedom of Expression was the theme at the Göteborg Book Fair, held between 21-24 Sepetember, in Sweden. Influential writers, publishers, journalists and other intellectuals from around ther world participated in the seminars on the theme chosen. It welcomed 102,605 visitors. It was organised in collboration with the International Publishers Association, the Nordic PEN Centres and International PEN. Among the speakers were Anna Politkovskaya, who was brutally murdered three weeks later, and Orhan Pamuk, subsequently awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature.

[NOTE: Please note that in the reference to the Goteburg Book Fair in today's PEN WiPC newsletter, it is stated that Anna Politkovskaya was one of the speakers at the event. Anna Politkovskaya was in fact unable to attend. She had to cancel her visit because of her father's death. Not only have her children lost their mother, but also their grandfather a short while before. Politkovskaya's place was taken by another courageous woman, the Belarusian author and journalist, Svetlana Alexievich, whose book, Zincy Boys, on Russian soldiers serving in Afghanistan, led to her to be brought before the courts in Belarus in the early 1990s. She subsequenty published "Voices from Chernobyl", a collection of interviews of people who had lived through the 1986 Chernobyl disaster.]

For more information on the Göteborg Book Fair and on the one next year, please refer to:

** American PEN Protests US Government surveillance **

American PEN has expressed its concern over the surveillance and threats against the press, and joined more than 1,100 writers and free expression advocates in the United States in protest. A petition has been delivered and a National Press Club programme has revealed how far the government actions are affecting the lives and work of journalists, writers and librarians, under the banner of national security.

To read and join the petition please refer to:

For more information on the American PEN action on the US Government survillance please refer to:

** Canadian PEN – Paul Kidd Courage Prize and PEN Canada One Humanity Award **

This year’s Canadian PEN – Paul Kidd Courage Prize was awarded to journalist Kim Bolan the author of ‘Loss of Faith: How the Air India Bombers Got Away with Murder’. The award recognises writers and journalists who have displayed exceptional courage and integrity on the interest of freedom of expression. The prize winner must meet at least two of the following criteria: that they have made a significant impact through writing or broadcasting; demonstrated through work a willingness to put his/her career on the line in the tenacious pursuit of a story; and displayed courage and taken an independent viewpoint.

The new PEN Canada One Humanity Award had as its first winner the Chinese journalist and poet Jiang Weiping. This price recognises the work of writers which transcended boundaries of national divides and inspire connections across cultures. In 2002 Weiping published a number of articles on corruption in north-eastern China involving high-level officials. He was imprisoned for almost six years for revealing state secrets. Weiping was freed in January 2006.

For more information on Kim Bolan and the Canadian PEN – Paul Kidd Courage Prize please refer to:

For more informetion on the journalist Jian Weiping and the PEN Canada One Humanity Award please refer to:

** Sydney PEN – newsletters **

In a press released issued the 11 October 2006 Sydney PEN called for the Federal Government to implement the changes recommended by the Austrian Law Reform Commission to Anti-Terror legislation passed in late 2005 (ALRC’s). Sydney PEN, strongly supports the recommendations of the ALRC’s and so called to the Government to remove the term ‘sedition’ from the statute books This is just one article featured in a series of news letters that can be read on

To access the complete recommendations on sedition laws please refer to:



** International Cities of Refuge Network – ICORN – launches web site **

The International Cities of Refuge Network (ICORN) has launched its website. ICORN is an association of cities and regions around the world dedicated to the value of Freedom of Expression. Writers have consistently been targets of politically-motivated threats and persecution, and the network believes it is necessary for the international community to formulate and implement an appropriate response. ICORN aims to meet this challenge.

For more information on ICORN please refer to:

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.

** International Council on Human Rights Policy – Human Rights Standards: Learning from Experience **

PEN members interested in the work of the United Nations may be interested in the publication ‘The International Council on Human Rights: Published Human Rights Standards: Learning from Experience’. The publication examines the recent evolution of international human rights standard-setting process in the United Nations and some of its specialised agencies, programmes and funds.

To download this publication and to know more about the publications of the International Council on Human Rights please refer to:



The latest alerts from the Writers in Prison Committee.

18 October 2006: China – Internet Journalist Guo Qizhen Sentenced to Four Years in Prison

12 October 2006: Burundi - Journalist imprisoned for alleged slander

10 October 2006: China – Crackdown on Dissident Writers

10 October 2006: Vietnam – Serious concerns for the health of writer Nguyen Vu Binh

2 October 2006: Maldives - Writer and leading opposition politician Mohamed Nasheed freed from house arrest

27 September 2006: Turkey- Arrest and Trials Against Writers and Journalists Escalate

22 September 2006: Niger – A third journalist given prison sentence

1 September 2006: Iran – Academic Ramin Jahanbegloo released


Anti-Terrorism, Writers and Freedom of Expression - A PEN report. Click here for English, French and Spanish versions.

Click here for the German version

WiPC Caselist January to June 2006 now available

Past weekly newsletters are accessible from the WiPC newsletter archive page.

If you would like to unsubscribe please e-mail with 'unsubscribe' in the subject line.

The Writers in Prison Committee of International PEN works on behalf of persecuted writers worldwide. Established in 1960 in response to increasing attempts to silence voices of dissent by imprisoning writers, the Writers in Prison Committee is today monitoring the cases of over 900 writers who have been imprisoned, tortured, threatened, attacked, disappeared and killed for the peaceful practice of their profession. It coordinates the International PEN membership's campaign towards an end to these attacks and an end to the suppression of freedom of expression worldwide.

For more information about PEN, please visit our website For information about a particular PEN Centre, contact details for each of our Centres are available from the Centres page of our website.


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