Category Archives: Press Releases

Day of the Imprisoned Writer 2018: We Need Your Support

International Pen have designated the 15th of November as the Day of the Imprisoned Writer and are highlighting the plight of five writers currently imprisoned for their writings. I’m contacting you on behalf of the Irish Pen/WORD Freedom to Write Campaign.

We have decided to highlight the plight of Ukrainian writer and filmmaker, Oleg Sentsov. Oleg is serving a 20-year prison sentence on ‘terrorism’ charges after a trial by a Russian military court, marred by allegations of torture. He is currently being held in the ‘Polar Bear’ penal colony of Labytnangi, in Siberia, thousands of kilometres away from his home and family in Crimea. He recently spent 145 days on hunger strike, calling for the release of all Ukrainian prisoners imprisoned in Russia on politically motivated grounds. He ended his strike on 6 October 2018 as he feared being forced-fed.

Freedom to Write intend sending appeals to the Russian authorities urging them to:

  • Release Oleg Sentsov immediately;
  • Respect Oleg Sentsov’s human rights, including the prohibition of torture and inhuman or degrading treatment, and his right to medical attention;
  • Return all Ukrainian nationals arrested in Crimea and now held in Russia to Ukraine, as required by international law, and free all held solely for the peaceful exercise of their right to freedom of expression.

We are anxious to include as many signatures as possible in our petition which reads:

The Irish Freedom to Write campaign and Irish Pen believe that Oleg Sentsov was imprisoned solely because of his opposition to Russia’s occupation and illegal ‘annexation’ of Crimea. We call on the Russian authorities to release him immediately and to respect Oleg Sentsov’s human rights, including the prohibition of torture and other ill-treatment, and his right to medical attention.

 We further call on the Russian Authorities to free all who are held solely for the peaceful exercise of their right to freedom of expression and to return all Ukrainian nationals who are currently held in Russia to Ukraine, as required by international law.

Signed :

June Considine Freedom to Write/WORD

Frank Geary Freedom to Write/Irish PEN

Vanessa Fox O’Loughlin Chair Irish PEN

Signatures will be needed by Tues 13th November 2018.  Our appeal will be forwarded to:

President of the Russian Federation, 

Prosecutor General of the Russian Federation

Human Rights Ombudsman of the Russian   Federation

The Russian Embassy 

Further information on the plight of Oleg Sentsov is available below in the PEN International appeal.

Please email June Considine juneconsidine@gmail.com to have your name added to our letter.

Thank you for your support.

PEN  International Appeal

Day of the Imprisoned Writer 2018 TAKE ACTION FOR OLEG SENTSOV RUSSIA

Writer, filmmaker

Ukrainian writer and filmmaker Oleg Sentsov, is serving a 20-year prison sentence on spurious terrorism charges after a grossly unfair trial by a Russian military court, marred by allegations of torture. He is currently being held in the ‘Polar Bear’ penal colony of Labytnangi, in Siberia, thousands of kilometres away from his home and family in Crimea. He recently spent 145 days on hunger strike, calling for the release of all Ukrainian prisoners imprisoned in Russia on politically motivated grounds. He ended his strike on 6 October 2018 as he feared being forced-fed.

PEN International believes that Oleg Sentsov was imprisoned for his opposition to Russia’s occupation and illegal ‘annexation’ of Crimea and calls on the Russian authorities to release him immediately. The organisation further calls on the Russian authorities to respect Oleg Sentsov’s human rights, including the prohibition of torture and other ill-treatment, and his right to medical attention.

Take Action – Share on Twitter, Facebook and other social media

Please send appeals to the Russian authorities urging them to:

  • Release Oleg Sentsov immediately;
  • Respect Oleg Sentsov’s human rights, including the prohibition of torture and inhuman or degrading treatment, and his right to medical attention;
  • Return all Ukrainian nationals arrested in Crimea and now held in Russia to Ukraine, as required by international law, and free all held solely for the peaceful exercise of their right to freedom of expression.

Send appeals to:

President of the Russian Federation

Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin

Ul.Ilyinka, 23

103132 Moscow

Russian Federation

Electronic copies can also be sent to: http://letters.kremlin.ru/letters/send

 

Prosecutor General of the Russian Federation

Yuri Yakovlevich Chaika

Prosecutor General’s Office

  1. B. Dmitrovka, d.15a

125993 Moscow GSP- 3

Russian Federation

 

Human Rights Ombudsman of the Russian Federation

Tatiana Nikolaevna Moskalkova

  1. Miasnitskaia, 47

107084, Moscow

Russian Federation

Send copies to the Embassy of Russia in your own country. Embassy addresses may be found here: https://embassy.goabroad.com/embassies-of/russia

We also encourage you to reach out to your Ministry of Foreign Affairs and diplomatic representatives in Russia, calling on them to raise Oleg Sentsov’s case in bilateral fora.

Send a message of support

The amount of support Oleg Sentsov received during his hunger strike was staggering. We are grateful to everyone who sent him messages of solidarity and would like to encourage you to keep writing to him.  After this hunger strike, and the toll it has taken on his health, we are sure he needs our support now more than ever.

Please note that all messages need to be written in Russian. If you do not speak Russian, please find a sample message below:

Dear Oleg, I wish you good health and strength and hope that you will soon be released. We are all thinking of you and stand with you in solidarity and respect.

Дорогой Олег, желаю Вам крепкого здоровья и сил, и надеюсь, что Вы скоро будете освобождены. Мы все думаем о Вас и поддерживаем в знак солидарности и уважения.

Address

Oleg Gennadievych Sentsov, Yamalo-Nenetsky autonomous okrug, Labytnangi, Severnaya St, 33, Russian Federation, 629400

629400 Ямало-Ненецкий автономный округ, город Лабытнанги, улица Северная 33, Сенцову Олегу Геннадьевичу, Россия

Publicity

Oleg Sentsov’s hunger strike brought considerable attention to his plight and we would like to thank everyone who took action on his case. In order to keep up the momentum, we encourage PEN members to continue to:

  • Publish articles and opinion pieces in your national or local press highlighting the case of Oleg Sentsov;
  • Share information about Oleg Sentsov and your campaigning activities via social media; please use #FreeSentsov;
  • Organise public events, press conferences and demonstrations;
  • Celebrate Oleg Sentsov’s work through film screenings and readings.

Please let us know about your activities and send us reports about the actions you take.  This is really important as it means we can monitor the impact that our campaigning has in relation to Oleg Sentsov’s case.

 

Social Media: Please use the hashtags #ImprisonedWriter and #FreeSentsov

Share information about Oleg Sentsov and your campaigning activities for him via social media.

Suggested tweets:

  • .@PutinRF_Eng, Oleg Sentsov should have never spent a single day behind bars. Release him immediately #FreeSentsov #ImprisonedWriter
  • On Day of the #ImprisonedWriter join PEN and take action for imprisoned writer & filmmaker Oleg Sentsov #FreeSentsov {insert RAN link}

Russian:

  • @ПутинRF_Eng, Олег Сенцов не должен был провести ни дня за решеткой. Немедленно освободите его #FreeSentsov #ImprisonedWriter
  • В День писателей-заключенных присоединитесь к ПЕН и приобщитесь к акции поддержки заключенного писателя и режиссера Олега Сенцова #ImprisonedWriter #FreeSentsov # {insert RAN link}

Ukrainian:

  • @ПутинRF_Eng, Олег Сенцов не повинен був провести за ґратами ані дня. Негайно звільніть його #FreeSentsov #ImprisonedWriter
  • У День письменників за ґратами приєднайтеся до ПЕН та долучіться до акції на підтримку ув’язненого письменника і режисера Олега Сенцова #ImprisonedWriter #FreeSentsov # {insert RAN link}

Background

Ukrainian writer and filmmaker Oleg Sentsov took part in the EuroMaidan demonstrations that toppled former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych in February 2014. He helped deliver food to Ukrainian soldiers following Russia’s occupation and ‘annexation’ of Crimea in March 2014.  He said he was arrested by the Russian security services at his apartment in Crimea on 10 May 2014. He reported being subjected to a brutal three-hour ordeal involving beatings, suffocation and threats of sexual assault.

His arrest was officially recorded on 11 May 2014 on the grounds of ‘suspicion of plotting terrorist acts’ and membership of a terrorist group – the Ukrainian right-wing group Pravyi Sektor (Right Sector). He was taken to Russia on 23 May 2014 where he spent over a year in pre-trial detention. He was eventually charged with the establishment of a terrorist group, politically motivated arson and conspiring to blow up a statue of Lenin, all of which he denied.

Following a trial widely condemned outside of Russia, in which a key prosecution witness retracted his statement, saying it had been extracted under torture, Oleg Sentsov was found guilty and sentenced to 20 years in prison by the military court of Rostov-on-Don on 20 August 2015. His sentence was upheld on appeal on 24 November 2015. In October 2016, the Russian authorities denied a request for extradition to Ukraine on the grounds that he had become a Russian citizen following Russia’s occupation and ‘annexation’ of Crimea.

Oleg Sentsov began a hunger strike on 14 May 2018 to urge the Russian authorities to release all Ukrainian nationals currently imprisoned in Russia on politically motivated grounds. He was taken to intensive care on 15 June 2018. His heart and kidney problems considerably worsened and he was put on a glucose drip. In August 2018, he told his family that he had been denied access to letters and had been kept in ‘an information vacuum’. The prison authorities subsequently granted him access to correspondence following an international outcry. On 5 October 2018, he wrote a letter stating that he felt compelled to end his hunger strike as he feared being forced-fed. He said he had lost 20 kilos and suffered irreparable damages to his health.

Scores of international and regional officials and organisations have called for Oleg Sentsov’s immediate release, including United Nations experts, the European Parliament and the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe. Svetlana Alexievitch, Tom Stoppard, Margaret Atwood, Ian Rankin, Ken Loach, Mike Leigh, Stephen Fry and Yann Martel are amongst those who most recently joined PEN and voiced their solidarity with Oleg Sentsov.

Oleg Sentsov is the winner of the 2017 PEN/Barbey Freedom to Write Award and the 2018 European Parliament’s Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought.

Freedom of expression in Russia and occupied Crimea

For more information about the state of freedom of expression in Russia, please see PEN International, PEN Moscow and St Petersburg PENs joint report entitled Russia’s Strident Stifling of Free Speech 2012-2018. The report, published in October 2018 in both English and Russian, shows how Russia’s array of repressive laws severely restricts the rights to freedom of expression, opinion and information. It describes the deterioration of media freedom through the Russian authorities’ control of the media landscape and the immense pressure faced by independent journalists to not contradict the official line or provide coverage of critical viewpoints. It analyses the prosecution and conviction of several people on politically motivated grounds. It further shows how artistic freedom and literature are under threat.

For more information about freedom of expression in occupied Crimea, please see PEN International’s report Freedom of Expression in Post–Euromaidan Ukraine: External Aggression and Internal Challenges, published in September 2017 in English. PEN International continues to call for a peaceful resolution to the conflict in Ukraine.

For further details contact Aurélia Dondo at PEN International, Koops Mill, 162-164 Abbey Street, London, SE1 2AN, UK Tel: +44 (0) 20 7405 0338 email: Aurelia.dondo@pen-international.org

Freedom to Write Campaign Supports International PEN to Protest Murder of Maltese Journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia

image1 (6)The following letter was published simultaneously in newspapers across the world on Monday 16th April 2018,  six months after the murder of Maltese journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia. This action was co-ordinated by International PEN, an organisation that celebrates literature and defends freedom of expression globally.

As part of the Freedom to Write Campaign, Irish PEN and WORD were in full support of this initiative and gathered the signatories below. The letter appeared in The Irish Independent on 16th April.

16 April 2018

The Shame of Valletta 2018, European Capital of Culture

 

Dear President Juncker,

Dear Commissioner Timmermans,

Dear Mr Magnier, Director of Creative Europe,

CC/ Commissioner Vella,

We write to you on the six-month anniversary of the brutal assassination of our colleague, Daphne Caruana Galizia, Malta’s foremost investigative journalist, to express our profound concern with developments in Malta in the context of the investigation into her assassination, and in particular regarding the behaviour of the management of Valletta 2018, the European Capital of Culture.

The assassination of Daphne Caruana Galizia was ordered in direct response to her journalistic work in exposing rampant government corruption at the heart of the EU. Since her death, we have witnessed with horror the repeated and aggressive destruction of the memorial to Daphne Caruana Galizia in Valletta, which was created in response to this horrific event. The Maltese authorities have not attempted to protect this memorial. In particular, we are outraged by the comments of Jason Micallef, Chairman of the Valletta 2018 Foundation, and as such the Capital of Culture’s official representative in Malta. Since her assassination, Micallef has repeatedly and publicly attacked and ridiculed Daphne Caruana Galizia on social media, ordered the removal of banners calling for justice for her death and called for her temporary memorial to be cleared. This is far from appropriate behaviour for an official designated to represent the European Capital of Culture, and in fact serves to further the interests of those trying to prevent an effective and impartial investigation into Caruana Galizia’s death.

Creative Europe’s mandate is the support and promotion of culture and media in the region. European  culture includes the freedom to criticise, satirise and investigate those in power. The role of the Chairman of the European Capital of Culture should be to safeguard this right, not to threaten it. We believe this behaviour completely demeans the role and has profound implications for the integrity of the programme as a whole. There can be no tolerance for the ridiculing of the assassination of a journalist in the heart of the EU, especially from the very authorities entrusted to promote the EU’s media and culture. We therefore urge you to immediately investigate these allegations against Jason Micallef. If found to be true, we urge you to call for his resignation and for the appointment of a qualified individual who demonstrates the requisite integrity for this role.

Further to these specific concerns relating to Valletta 2018, we wish to restate our broader fears relating to the ongoing investigation by the Maltese Authorities into the assassination of Daphne Caruana Galizia, which we believe does not meet the standards of independence, impartiality and effectiveness required under international human rights law. The very same individuals Caruana Galizia was investigating remain in charge of securing justice in her case, despite a judicial challenge in Malta’s constitutional court from her family, who has now been completely shut out of the assassination investigation. We therefore welcome the initiative of the Parliamentary Assembly of Council of Europe, which is taking the extraordinary step of sending a special rapporteur to scrutinise the investigation.

It is also of enormous concern to us that, even after her assassination, senior government officials, including the Prime Minister, Joseph Muscat, are insisting on trying thirty-four libel cases against her, which have now been assumed by her family. In addition to these cases, the Prime Minister is taking a further libel case against Caruana Galizia’s son, Matthew, himself a Pulitzer-Prize-winning journalist. We have reason to believe that these proceedings are in direct reprisal for his mother’s work in investigating corruption within the current Maltese government. The Prime Minister is currently compelling Matthew to return to Malta to stand trial, despite independent security experts advising Matthew to remain outside Malta due to substantial threats to his life there.

Whistle-blower Maria Efimovawho was one of Daphne Caruana Galizia’s sources on corruption within the disgraced Malta-based Pilatus Bank is facing extradition to Malta from Greece after a European arrest warrant was issued. We believe the charges against Efimova to be purely political and are deeply concerned about both her safety and the independence of the legal process she would face should she be deported to Malta.

We urge you to take a stand in support of calls for justice for Daphne Caruana Galizia and for the protection of journalists in Malta.

We look forward to your response outlining the steps you will now take relating to our concerns.

Sincerely,

Jennifer Clement, President, PEN International

Per Wästburg, PEN President Emeritus, Chair of the Nobel Prize for Literature

(and representatives of PEN centres in more than 30 countries, see below)

 

IRISH SIGNATORIES:

Fr Tony Gaughan, Irish PEN President,

Vanessa Fox O’Loughlin, Irish PEN Chair,

Frank Geary, Irish PEN, Freedom to Write Campaign

June Considine, Irish PEN, WORD & Freedom to Write Campaign, Ireland

Lia Mills, Irish PEN, WORD & Freedom to Write Campaign, Ireland

Valerie Bistany, Director, Irish Writers Centre

Liz McManus, Chair, Irish Writers Centre Board

 

 

Mary O’Donnell, Irish PEN

Marita Conlon McKenna, Irish PEN

Jennifer Barrett, Ireland

Dermot Bolger, Ireland

Evelyn Conlon, Ireland

Mary Costello, Ireland

Darren Darker, Irish PEN

Celia De Fréine, WORD, Ireland

Anne Devlin, PEN International UK/Ireland

Martina Devlin, WORD, Ireland

Katie Donovan, WORD, Ireland

Theo Dorgan, Ireland

Catherine Dunne, WORD, Ireland

Kate Ennals, Word, Ireland

Anne Enright, Republic of Ireland

Mia Gallagher, WORD, Ireland

Carlo Gebler, Northern Ireland

Caroline Graham, WORD, Ireland

Padraig Hanratty, Irish PEN Membership Secretary

Sean Hardie, Ireland

Jack Harte, Ireland

Claire Kilroy, Ireland

Colum McCann, Ireland

Paula McGrath, Ireland

Frank McGuinness, Ireland

Henrietta McKervey, Ireland

Maria MacManus, Ireland

Declan Meade, Ireland

Paula Meehan, Ireland

Paul Muldoon, PEN America

E.R.Murray, Ireland

Éilís Ní Dhuibhne, Irish PEN, WORD and Freedom to Write Campaign, Ireland

Kerrie O’Brien, Ireland

Joseph O’Connor, Ireland

Louise Phillips, WORD, Ireland

DBC Pierre, UK/Ireland

Martin Roper, Republic of Ireland

Tom Sigafoos, WORD, Ireland

Grainne Tobin, Ireland

William Wall, Ireland

 

INTERNATIONAL SIGNATORIES:

Jennifer Clement, President, PEN International

Per Wästburg, PEN President Emeritus, Chair of the Nobel Prize for Literature

Homero Aridjis, PEN President Emeritus, Former Ambassador of Mexico to UNESCO

Georges Emmanuel Clancier, PEN International Vice-Président Emeritus

Eugene SchoulginPEN International Vice-President, PEN Norway

Regula Venske, Regula Venske, President PEN Germany, Member of the Board PEN

International

Burhan Sönmez, PEN Turkey, Member of the Board PEN International

Salil Tripathi, Chair, Writers in Prison Committee, PEN International

Eric Lax, PEN International

Emmanuel Pierrat, Président, French PEN

Elisabeth Åsbrink, President, Swedish PEN

Erik Vlaminck, President, PEN Belgium / Dutch speaking

Fr Tony Gaughan, Irish PEN President

Maureen Freely, Chair of Trustees, English PEN

Per Øhrgaard, President, Danish PEN

Venla Hiidensalo, President, Finnish PEN

Vonne van der Meer, President, PEN Netherlands

Mathias Ospelt, President, PEN Liechtenstein

Antonio Della Rocca, Presidente del PEN Trieste, Member of the Board of PEN International

Elena Chizhova, Director, Saint-Petersburg PEN

Dina Meza, President, PEN Honduras

Jorge Ragal, Presidente PEN Chile

Ciro Añez, President PEN Santa Cruz-Bolivia

Judyth Hill, President, San Miguel PEN Center

José A. Albertini y Luis de la Paz, Presidente, El PEN-Club de Escritores Cubanos en el Exilio

Hanan Awwad, President, Palestine PEN

Folu Agoi, President, PEN Nigeria

Dr Frankie Asare-Donkoh, President, Ghanaian PEN, Secretary-General, PEN Africa Network

Lisa Appignanesi, former President, English PEN

Anders Jerichow, former president, Danish PEN

Sylvestre Clancier, Président d’honneur du PEN français, ancien membre du Comité Exécutif du PEN International

Émile Martel, former President, Centre Québécois du P.E.N. International

Dr. Sascha Feuchert, Vice-President and Writers-in-Prison/Writers-at-Risk-Commissioner, PEN Germany

Andréas Becker, Président du Comité des Écrivains Persécutés, PEN-Club Français

Patrick Tudoret, writer and scholar, vice president French Pen

Isabelle Rossaert, Vice-President, PEN Belgium/Flanders

Markéta Hejkalová, Vice President of Czech PEN

Fiona Graham, Vice-President, Scottish PEN

Connie Bork, Vice-President, Danish PEN

Biyú Suárez C.,  Vice President PEN Santa Cruz- Bolivia

Prof. Dr. Carlos Collado Seidel, Secretary General, German PEN

Daniel Batliner, Secretary-General P.E.N. Liechtenstein

Burkhard P. Bierschenck, Secretary of PEN Centre of German speaking writers Abroad

Mille Rode, General Secretary, Danish PEN

 

Khadija Ismayilova, UNESCO/Guillermo Cano World Press Freedom Prize (2016), (Azerbaijan) Honorary Member, Norwegian PEN

Ahmet Şık, UNESCO/Guillermo Cano World Press Freedom Prize (2014) (Turkey)

 

Ian McEwan, UK

Yann Martel, Canada

Nayantara Sahgal, India

Elif Shafak, English PEN (Turkey)

Caroline Criado Perez (Brazil/UK)

Can Dündar, Former Editor-in-chief, Cumhuriyet (Turkey)

Yann Martel, Canada

Nayantara Sahgal, India

Chloe Aridjis, UK/Mexico

Horácio Costa, Brazil

Lucina Kathmann, PEN International Vice-President Emerita

Christine McKenzie, PEN Melbourne, Australia

Herbert Wiesner, German PEN

Ursula Krechel, German PEN

Tereza Semotamová, Czech PEN

Elsa Cross

Helen Caldwell, New Zealand

Tanja Kinkel, German PEN

Nadezda Azhgikhina, Free Word Association Board Member, Russia

Nik Williams, Project Manager, Scottish PEN

David Manderson, Trustee, Scottish PEN

Laura Waddell, Trustee, Scottish PEN

Mario Relich, Secretary, Scottish PEN

Jenni Calder, Membership Secretary, Scottish PEN

Bashabi Fraser, Trustee, Scottish PEN

Lady Joyce Caplan, Trustee, Scottish PEN

Summer Lopez, Senior Director of Free Expression Programs, PEN America

Félix Villeneuve, Writers in Prison Coordinator, Quebec PEN

Lesley Marshall, New Zealand PEN coordinator

Jens Lohmann, Danish PEN

Marianne Østergaard, Danish PEN,

Uffe Gardel, Danish PEN

Nguyên Hoàng Bao Viêt , Délégué, Comité des Ecrivains et Ecrivaines en prison, Centre PEN Suisse Romand

Gustavo Bracamonte PEN-Guatemala

Emi Kasamatsu PEN Paraguay

Armida Zepeda, PEN San Miguel de Allende-México

Sigrid Bousset, PEN Belgium/ Dutch speaking

Jan Fabre, Antwerp

Stefan Hertmans, Brussels

Lieve Joris, Amsterdam
Koen Peeters, Belgium

Tom Lanoye, Belgium

Marc Reugebrink, Belgium

Bart Moeyaert, Belgium

Alicja Gescinska, Belgium

Nick Mulgrew, Head of Communications, PEN South Africa

Margie Orford, President Emerita of PEN South Africa, PEN International Board Member

Nicky Falkof, PEN South Africa

Romy Sommer, PEN South Africa

Yewande Omotoso, Executive Vice President, PEN South Africa

Jen Thorpe, PEN South Africa

Jacques Rousseau, PEN South Africa

Ingrid de Kok, PEN South Africa

Marcus Low, PEN South Africa

Justin Fox, PEN South Africa

Mike Nicol, PEN, South Africa

Bruce Cooper, PEN, South Africa

Alexander Matthews, PEN South Africa

Kristien Hemmerechts, Belgium

Nina George, German PEN

Arthur Goldstuck, PEN South Africa

Manu Herbstein, PEN South Africa

Carme Arenas, President of PEN Català

Raffaella Salierno, Secretary General of PEN Català

Gemma Rodríguez, Treasurer of PEN Català

Erwin Mortier, Belgium

image1 (6)

 

 

Irish PEN Condemns Flogging of Saudi Blogger

Irish PEN implores the Saudi Arabian authorities and all international bodies with influence in Saudi Arabia to act immediately to prevent the whipping of blogger Raif Badawi, scheduled to take place again on Friday January 16th at Alislahia Jail, Jeddah. The imminent and potentially lethal flogging violates the absolute prohibition in international law against torture and maltreatment.

In November 2014, Badawi was sentenced to 10 years in prison and 1,000 lashes for “insulting Islam” and “founding a liberal website.” According to sources close to the case, he will receive 50 lashes each Friday following morning prayers for 20 weeks; this unimaginably cruel and harsh punishment began on January 9th.  The extended punishment is likely to push Badawi’s body to its outermost limits, causing severe long-term damage and possibly death.

 

Irish PEN calls on the Saudi Arabian authorities to release Raif Badawi and his lawyer Walid Abu al-Khair immediately and unconditionally as they are being held solely for their peaceful exercise of their rights to freedom of expression.  In the meantime, we call for both men to be granted all necessary medical treatment, as well as access to their families and lawyers of their choice.

Irish PEN urges the Irish Government to make respect for human rights and international law a requisite for the kind of close relationship it shares with Saudi Arabia and its leader, King Abdullah ibn Abdulaziz bin Saud. We call on our Representatives to publicly condemn this action, and call for the flogging to be halted immediately and for this profoundly unjust sentence to be rescinded, allowing Badawi to return to his family.

Irish PEN member and best selling author, journalist Martina Devlin highlighted the case in the Irish Independent:

Just days ago, Enda Kenny stood shoulder to shoulder with other leaders in Paris to champion freedom of expression. Among world representatives at the pro-democracy march was the Saudi ambassador to France, Muhammed Ismail Al-Sheikh.

Two days earlier, Saudia Arabia had flogged a blogger. Fifty blows in public. The first salvo in a barbaric sentence which condemns him to 1,000 lashes. His crime? Expressing ideas through free speech. He set up a website – now closed down – encouraging social debate about religious and political issues.

Even as the Saudi government condemned Islamic fundamentalist violence elsewhere, it was silencing a voice of peaceful dissent at home. And in the most inhumane fashion.

Tomorrow, blogger Raif Badawi is due to receive another 50 blows with a cane outside a mosque in Jeddah. The 31-year-old father-of-three will undergo this ritualised exercise in pain and humiliation for 20 consecutive Fridays. Corporal punishment is defined as torture according to international human rights law. Yet his only crime is to stimulate social debate. 

After each flogging he is returned to prison, where he has been held since June 2012. His sentence also includes a 10-year jail term and a fine of €225,000. For good measure, his lawyer was given a lengthy jail term.

Read the full article here: http://www.independent.ie/opinion/columnists/martina-devlin/ireland-should-take-a-stand-against-saudi-hypocrisy-over-flogged-writer-30909117.html

Irish PEN

Irish PEN was formed in 1935. It is an association of Irish writers, associate members and friends concerned in the written word, in freedom of expression and in the love of literature.

Irish PEN is affiliated to PEN International, who also condemn this action outright.

Irish PEN logo

CONTACT

Emer Liston, Writers in Prison Committee Secretary, Irish PEN  c/o The United Arts Club, 3 Upper Fitzwilliam Square, Dublin 2

PEN Appalled by Savage Attack on Charlie Hebdo

Irish PEN are fully in support of the statement by PEN International about the horrific attack 7th January on French satirical magazine, Charlie Hebdo:

PEN International and 42 PEN Centres around the world condemn the unprecedented attack on the office of the French publication Charlie Hebdo in Paris today in which 12 people died and seven were injured.

This is not the first time that journalists, editors, writers, cartoonists  and translators have been targeted for expressing opinions that may offend, outrage or shock sections of society. But there has never been an assault on such a scale in Europe. There can be no justification for using violence to silence or intimidate those who speak out, no matter how offensive their views.

In the face of such violence, it is incumbent on all governments and religious leaders to strengthen their commitment to press freedom and to safeguard freedom of expression as a fundamental human right. This attack must be investigated promptly and impartially in accordance with international standards and the perpetrators brought to justice.

John Ralston Saul, President of PEN International said: “PEN is appalled by today’s savage attack on Charlie Hebdo. Today the entire PEN family stands in solidarity with journalists in France, and all over the world, who are increasingly subjected to violence for exercising their right to freedom of expression.”

Condemning the cowardly attack on the office of the magazine, Jean-Luc Despax, President of French PEN said: “Despite this atrocious act, freedom of expression remains intact, whether expressed through art, satire or analysis.”

– See more at: http://www.pen-international.org/newsitems/pen-appalled-by-savage-attack-on-french-satirical-magazine-charlie-hebdo/#sthash.2S3iTcg1.dpuf

Time to Say No ! Poems for Malala Yousafzai

Journalists and writers from Brazil, Austria, Germany, Argentina, Turkey, India, Bulgaria, Iran, Norway, Pakistan, Ireland, China, Estonia, Mexico and Vietnam, among others, participate in “Time to say No!”, An anthology  by Helmuth Niederle and Philo Ikonya, writers and editors.

Malala Yousafzai

Philo Ikonya and Helmuth Niederle have produced a book of over two hundred multilingual poems and protests themed in our ability as writers to refuse violence against girls like Malala who have sought with passion to be educated. The book will be launched on the 7th and 8th of March 2013 to coincide with international Women’s Day 2013.

Our sincere thanks to the Irish writers who participated and to Philo and Helmuth who have made the text available in pdf via a public drop-box link.

This link will lead readers to the words of contributors aged 11-80 who desire to support the education of girls and to protest the shooting of a child.

  • The right to education is a universal human right. It is a basic right which fosters and guarantees democracy founded on constitutional legality. This is independent of and not based on or limited by gender
  • Time to say No ! Poems for Malala Yousafzai