Category Archives: Press Releases

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 

PEN International Declaration on Digital Freedom

PEN recognizes the promise of digital media as a means of fulfilling the fundamental right of free expression. At the same time, poets, playwrights, essayists, novelists, writers, bloggers, and journalists are suffering violations of their right to freedom of expression for using digital media. Citizens in many countries have faced severe restrictions in their access to and use of digital media, while governments have exploited digital technologies to suppress freedom of expression and to surveil individuals. The private sector and technology companies in particular have at times facilitated government censorship and surveillance. PEN therefore declares the following:

1. All persons have the right to express themselves freely through digital media without fear of reprisal or persecution.

a. Individuals who use digital media enjoy full freedom of expression protections under international laws and standards.

b. Governments must not prosecute individuals or exact reprisals upon individuals who convey information, opinions, or ideas through digital media.

c. Governments must actively protect freedom of expression on digital media by enacting and enforcing effective laws and standards.

2. All persons have the right to seek and receive information through digital media.

a. Governments should not censor, restrict, or control the content of digital media, including content from domestic and international sources.

b. In exceptional circumstances, any limitations on the content of digital media must adhere to international laws and standards that govern the limits of freedom of expression, such as incitement to violence.

c. Governments should not block access to or restrict the use of digital media, even during periods of unrest or crisis. Controlling access to digital media, especially on a broad scale, inherently violates the right to freedom of expression.

d. Governments should foster and promote full access to digital media for all persons.

3. All persons have the right to be free from government surveillance of digital media.

a. Surveillance, whether or not known by the specific intended target, chills speech by establishing the potential for persecution and the fear of reprisals. When known, surveillance fosters a climate of self-censorship that further harms free expression.

b. As a general rule, governments should not seek to access digital communications between or among private individuals, nor should they monitor individual use of digital media, track the movements of individuals through digital media, alter the expression of individuals, or generally surveil individuals.

c. When governments do conduct surveillance—in exceptional circumstances and in connection with legitimate law enforcement or national security investigations—any surveillance of individuals and monitoring of communications via digital media must meet international due process laws and standards that apply to lawful searches, such as obtaining a warrant by a court order.

d. Full freedom of expression entails a right to privacy; all existing international laws and standards of privacy apply to digital media, and new laws and standards and protections may be required.

e. Government gathering and retention of data and other information generated by digital media, including data mining, should meet international laws and standards of privacy, such as requirements that the data retention be time-limited, proportionate, and provide effective notice to persons affected.

4. The private sector, and technology companies in particular, are bound by the right to freedom of expression and human rights.

a. The principles stated in this declaration equally apply to the private sector.

 

b. Companies must respect human rights, including the right to freedom of expression, and must uphold these rights even when national laws and regulations do not protect them.

c. Technology companies have a duty to determine how their products, services, and policies impact human rights in the countries in which they intend to operate. If violations are likely, or violations may be inextricably linked to the use of products or services, the companies should modify or withdraw their proposed plans in order to respect human rights.

d. Technology companies should incorporate freedom of expression principles into core operations, such as product designs with built-in privacy protections.

e. If their operations are found to have violated the right to freedom of expression, technology companies should provide restitution to those whose rights were violated, even when governments do not provide remedies.

 

http://www.pen-international.org/pen-declaration-on-digital-freedom/

PEN International Women Writer's Committee ; a Letter to President Putin.

President Vladimir Putin

President of the Russian Federation

Re. Maria Alyokhina and Nadezhda Tolokonnikova

Your Excellency,

The Women Writers Committee of PEN International, the largest worldwide association of writers with centers in over 100 countries, continues to be extremely concerned about our jailed Russian colleagues, Maria Alyokhina and Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, members of the Pussy Riot band who are still incarcerated. We welcome the release of Ekaterina Samusevich.

Artists, governmental and religious leaders have all spoken out against the harsh treatment these women received after a protest in the Moscow Cathedral which did no damage. They were convicted of hooliganism and sentenced to two years imprisonment, after being held in jail for many months without trial. What has happened to them is completely inconsistent with a healthy society that permits freedom of expression.

We continue to call for the immediate release of Maria Alyokhina and Nadezhda Tolokonnikova.

Sincerely,

Ekbal Baraka

Chair, PEN International Women Writers Committee

 

Address

 

You can send messages to President Putin on the Kremlin website

http://eng.letters.kremlin.ru/

 

Or by mail:

 

President Vladimir Putin

President of the Russian Federation

23, Ilyinka Street,
Moscow, 103132

Russia

 

You may find that the Russian ambassador in your own country is more likely to respond to your appeals, so we recommend that you either write to him or her directly or send a copy of your appeal. You can find the Russian embassy in your country here.

 

Messages of solidarity to the prisoners can be sent via the FreePussyRiot website:www.freepussyriot.org

 

For further information please contact Sara Whyatt at PEN International Writers in Prison Committee of PEN International, Brownlow House, 50-51 High Holborn, London WC1V 6ER Tel: +44 (02) 20 7405 0338 Fax: +44 (0) 20 74050339 Email: sara.whyatt@pen-international.org

 

 

Sara Whyatt | Deputy Director | Sous-Directeur | Sub-Directora | PEN International

t.             +44 (0)20 7405 0338       | m.             +44 (0)7824640527       | e. Twitter | Facebook | www.pen-international.org

 

International PEN Congress 2012

PEN Members from over 80 countries around the world gather for prominent literary gathering– The 78th PEN International Congress

 The following report on the 78th PEN International Congress is by J. Anthony Gaughan:

The 78th Pen International Congress was held in Gyeongju, South Korea, from 9 to 15 September 2012.  Eighty centres from around the world were represented at the Congress.  The 300 delegates were formally welcomed by Gil-Won Lee, president of Korean Pen.

In his key-note address John Ralston Saul emphasised the crucial role of Pen in defending and safe-guarding freedom of expression, the well-spring of democracy and the foremost bulwark of human rights.  The theme of theCongress was ‘Literature, media and human rights’.  In the light of the remarkable development of digital media Congress approved for distribution a ‘Declaration of Free Expression and Digital Technologies’ which deals with clear and urgent questions about the relationship between digital technologies and freedom of expression.  The Pen principles outlined in the declaration apply to the Internet, blogs, micro-blogs, social networks, email, voice-over, Internet Protocol calling and texting and electronic devices such as computers, cellular phones, smart phones, mini-computers, and tablets.

Reports were presented and discussed at the various committees: Writers for Peace Committee, Writers in Prison Committee, Women Writers’ Committee and Translation and Linguistic Rights Committee.  The reports to the Writers for Peace Committee covered the well-known areas of conflict around the world.  Some were quite enlightening and provided a much more complex picture of these areas than that presented by the Western media outlets. 

The Writers in Prison Committee had to hand on updated list of writers who during the past year had been killed, imprisoned or otherwise victimised for campaigning for and exercising freedom of expression and for their attempts to expose corruption in autocratic regimes of the left and the right.  The steps Pen had taken to assist them was discussed and how efforts to this end could be made more effective.  Resolutions and recommendations advocating the lifting of laws banning freedom of expression and requesting the release of journalists and writers in prison for defending human rights and the exercise of free speech were passed and forwarded to the authorities in Belarus, China, Cuba, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Honduras, Iran, Mexico, Puerto Rico, Syria and Vietnam. 

Reports to the Women Writers’ Committee highlighted the continuing appalling plight of women in Islamic countries.  An unusual issue – the proposed international standardisation of the Portuguese language – was brought before the Translation and Linguistic Rights Committee.  This concerned a project by the Portuguese government to fundamentally reform the Portuguese language.  Their stated aim is to make the language more amenable to use in the electronic media and to make it more user-friendly to those speaking it in countries beyond Portugal, such as Brazil, East Timor, Mozambique etc.  Portuguese academics, scholars and writers strongly oppose the project arguing that it will lead to an unacceptable redaction of the language.  After a number of informative presentations the Pen Committee guaranteed its support for their stand.

John Ralston Saul was elected to serve as president for another three years.  The financial statement which indicated a significant credit balance was passed.  It was announced that the next Congress would be held next September at Reykjavik, in Iceland.

PEN International press Release on the 78th PEN International Congress

Gyeongju, Korea– Over 300 delegates have gathered in Korea’s historical city Gyeongju for the 78th PEN International Congress. The Congress was launched by host centre President Gil-Won Lee, which this year explores themes around Literature, Media and Human Rights.

PEN’s diverse and unique community of writers and members gather each year to share ideas, discuss new campaigns and initiatives,highlight emerging issues and challenges to freedom of expression around the world.

The Congress will see keynote speeches by Nobel Laureates , Wole Soyinka and Jean Marie Gustave Le Clezio as well as training sessions and workshops, lectures, literary events and networking sessions. The annual congress is an opportunity for members from all centers to share their diverse expertise and experience.

In his opening speech, PEN International President John Ralston Saul echoed the core purpose of PEN around the world:

 “Through all of [our] work we must constantly remindourselves that our cause is literature.  Literature and freedom of expression are neither a nicety nor a legal technicality.  They are a way of imagining  the relationship between peoples.  Between people.  People who may disagree or dislike each other or, in fact, know nothing about each other.”

 At the opening Ceremony, PEN International announced its Declaration on Free Expression and Digital Technologies, which will address concerns around digital technology, particularly freedom of expression through digital media.

 PEN plays a global role in promoting literature and protecting freedom of expression.

Notes to editors:

PEN International celebrates literature and promotes freedom of expression. Founded in 1921, our global community of writers now comprises 144 Centres spanning more than 100 countries. Our programmes,campaigns, events and publications connect writers and readers for globalsolidarity and cooperation. PEN International is a non-political organizationand holds consultative status at the United Nations and UNESCO.

For press and other enquiries please contact:
PEN International Campaigns & Communications Manager Sahar Halaimzai.
Email: Sahar.Halaimzai@pen-international.org
Tel: +44 (0)20 7405 0338
Mob: +44 (0)7596 767912