Irish PEN featured writer Paola Ugaz (Peru) at risk (20/01/22)

Paola Ugaz is a Peruvian investigative journalist, editor and writer. She is facing a campaign of harassment, threats, and defamation lawsuits, including allegations of crimes due to her investigations into corruption, as well as physical, psychological and sexual abuse within the Peruvian religious organization Sodalicio de Vida Cristiana, which she has conducted since 2010.

In February 2021, Ugaz was served a lawsuit that could land her in prison. Ugaz’s case is part of a sophisticated system in Peru where powerful groups use the courts as whips to silence journalists by fabricating criminal allegations against them.

PEN International considers that the charges, lawsuits, threats and ongoing harassment against Ugaz are violating her right to freedom of expression, as well as her civil and political rights. PEN calls on the Peruvian authorities to dismiss the lawsuits against her and to cease immediately the harassment Ugaz faces for her work as a journalist, editor and writer.

Please, send appeals to the Peruvian authorities:

  • Expressing deep concern about Ugaz’s charges, lawsuits, threats and ongoing harassment, which are in relation to her work.
  • Calling for a halt to the judicial proceedings against Ugaz, considering that the complaints and prosecution are intended to stop her investigations and prevent the publication of her books, as well as to impose a chilling effect on other writers and journalists, and prevent them from exercising their right to freedom of expression.
  • Calling upon the Peruvian authorities to repeal criminal defamation legislation, which is still in force in Peru. Such legislation impedes the exercise of citizens’ rights to information and to hold their governments to account. It also limits the exercise of the right to freedom of expression, and therefore erodes the work of writers, journalists and editors.

Send appeals to:

President of the Republic of Peru

Sr. Pedro Castillo

Twitter: @MerinoDeLama @presidenciaperu

Address: Jr. de la Unión s / n 1st block

Cercado de Lima, Lima – Peru

Public Ministry Prosecutor’s Office of the Nation

Mrs. Zoraida Ávalos Rivera

Attorney of the Nation

Email zavalos@mpfn.gob.pe

Tel. +51 208 5555 (5202) – (5201)

Twitter @FiscaliaPeru

Address: Av. Abancay Cdra 5 (Headquarters in Lima) LIMA – Peru

Judiciary of Peru

Judge Elvia Barrios Alvarado

President of the Judiciary

Email: ebarrios@pj.gob.pe

Tel. (01) 4101010 Annex 11000

T. @Poder_Judicial_

Address Av. Paseo de la República S / N Palacio de Justicia, Cercado, Lima – Peru

Ombudsman

Walter Gutierrez Camacho

Ombudsman

Tel: 01-311 0300 – Annex 1202E

Email: defensor@defensoria.gob.pe

Address: Jirón Ucayali 394 – 398 Lima 1

Send copies to the Embassy of Peru in your own country. Embassy addresses may be found here: https://www.embassy-worldwide.com/country/peru/

Publicity:

We encourage PEN members to:

  • Publish articles and opinion pieces in your national or local press highlighting the case of Ugaz and the importance of freedom of expression in Peru;
  • Share information about Ugaz and her activities and work on social media, using the hashtag #PaolaUgaz

Please find some useful materials below, in English and Spanish:

IWMF Courage 2021

A espaldas del Vaticano, el Sodalicio saca su dinero de Perú para no reparar a los sobrevivientes

El Vaticano espera las explicaciones del Sodalicio con el fin de garantizar las reparaciones

Fundador del Sodalicio, Luis Figari, vende su lujosa residencia en Lima para no reparar a sus víctimas

Please inform PEN International of any action you take or any response you get.

Background

In 2015, Pedro Salinas and Paola Ugaz published the book Mitad monjes, mitad soldados (Half Monks, Half Soldiers) (Planeta, 2015), which uncovered the biggest scandal within a Catholic organization in Peru. Ugaz began to receive complaints and lawsuits following the announcement she was publishing a new book (yet to be published) about the group’s financial management.

Ugaz faces at least five legal proceedings for the publication of her book and investigative journalism. In October 2020, she received a death threat on her Instagram account and a new hearing was held, in which the judge decided to open a judicial process against her. The trial stems from a complaint filed by Luciano Revoredo Rojas, a former congressional candidate and director of the conservative Catholic news and commentary website La Abeja, who accused Ugaz of aggravated defamation.

(See Action on Day of the Imprisoner Writer Campaign 2020 – Paola Ugaz)

Furthermore, in November 2020, Carlos Alberto Gomez de la Torre Pretell, a ‘Sodalicio’ employee, sued Ugaz for defamation following her participation in a 40-second statement, broadcast by Al Jazeera in a documentary titled “The Sodalitium Scandal.”

For a long time, Ugaz has been the target of a smear and disinformation campaign in relation to her work as a journalist where, without any evidence, she is linked to alleged criminal networks, money laundering, uranium and plutonium trading, among others. She is also the target of harassment, including the publication of private data about her children, who are minors, and about her colleague Pedro Salinas, co-author of the book.

Ugaz is currently facing defamation suits by Revoredo Rojas and Gómez de la Torre, and is being investigated by the Prosecutor’s Office as the head of a money laundering network.

Paola Ugaz could face preventive detention, imprisonment or a ban on leaving her country.

For more information, please contact Alicia Quiñones, Americas Programme Coordinator, at PEN International, email: alicia.quinones@pen-international.org

PEN Norway Event concerning the Iranian writer Narges Mohammadi

Narges Mohammadi is an Iranian writer, journalist, human rights defender, and Honorary Member of Danish, Belgian, Norwegian, and Swedish PEN. She is the former Vice-President and spokesperson of the Defenders of Human Rights Center (DHRC), which advocates for human rights reform and represents political prisoners and prisoners of conscience in legal proceedings.  You can find more details about her case here.

In November 2021, Mohammadi was arrested yet again and is now facing 80 lashes. You can find more information about her current situation in PEN International’s latest statement on her case here

Our colleagues at PEN Norway are organising an online event on January 25 about Mohammadi, her current situation, and the treatment of political prisoners and activists in Iran, followed by screening her documentary film “White Torture.”

Please see PEN Norway’s program 25 January: https://www.facebook.com/events/358228265638858?ref=newsfeed

PROGRAMME

In the conversation:


– Taghi Rahmani, Narges Mohammadi’s husband, journalist, writer and activist
– Shirin Ebadi, Nobel Peace Prize winner (2003), political activist, lawyer and a former judge
– Asieh Amini, journalist, poet and Board member of PEN Norway
– Benyamin Farnam, filmmaker and Communications Worker at PEN Norway

Moderator: Moloud Hajizadeh, journalist

The event will be in English and will be streamed on PEN Norway’s Facebook page.

Afghan Citizens Resettlement Scheme

Led by English PEN, we have joined over 30 arts, media, and human rights organisations in calling on the UK govt to open the Afghan Citizens Resettlement Scheme, which was announced over four months ago. Read our letter to the Home Secretary here: https://www.englishpen.org/posts/news/afghanistan-cultural-organisations-urge-uk-government-to-open-acrs/

PEN Friends letter-writing event

Here is a quote from Enoh Meyomesse (Cameroon) about the effect of receiving letters from PEN members while he was in prison:

“Your letters set me free. Your postcards broke my chains.”

On 15th November, to mark the Day of the Imprisoned Writer (and the first anniversary of the re-launch of Irish PEN/PEN na hÉireann), sixteen members joined us via Zoom to talk about selected writers and write letters and cards of support. Our featured writers were: Nedim Turfent (Turkey), Ilhan Sami Çomak (Turkey), Dawit Isaak (Eritrea), Amanuel Asrat (Eritea), Nasrin Sotoudeh (Iran), Pham Doan Trang (Vietnam) and Paola Ugaz (Peru).

This was a wonderfully friendly, engaged session where we thought about and talked about PEN’s principles of supporting writers who have been imprisoned because of their work, their ideas, their courage and their belief in freedom of expression.

With thanks to English PEN, PEN Norway and the Free the Poet Campaign and PEN International for their support.

Poetry Jukebox Curation “The Revolution is in the Heart”

We are delighted that our @poetryjukebox Curation “The Revolution is in the Heart” has gone live on https://soundcloud.com/user-815416158/sets/irishpen-imprisonedwriters

Kurdish PEN member, writer and poet Meral Şimşek

15 September 2021

Kurdish PEN member, writer and poet Meral Şimşek is facing up to 15 years in prison on the charge of ‘membership of a terrorist organisation’ and up to seven-and-a-half-years on the charge of ‘making terrorist propaganda’. She is due to stand trial on 21 September. In a separate case, Şimşek faces up to five years in prison on the charge of ‘entering a restricted military area’ after she fled to Greece earlier this year and was pushed back to Turkey. The hearing will take place on 16 November.

PEN International believes that Meral Şimşek is being targeted for her writings and calls for all charges against her to be dropped.

TAKE ACTION: Please send appeals to the Turkish authorities:

  • Calling for all charges against Meral Şimşek to be dropped;
  • Calling for an end to the prosecution and detention of journalists and writers on the basis of the content of their writing or alleged affiliation, and for the immediate release all those held in prison for exercising their right to freedom of expression;
  • Calling for an end to the crackdown on the Kurdish regions and for a peaceful solution to the ongoing conflict.

Send appeals to:

Abdulhamit Gül

Role: Minister of Justice

Address: Ministry of Justice, Adalet Bakanlığı, 06659 Ankara, Turkey

Twitter: https://twitter.com/abdulhamitgul

Contact: info@adalet.gov.tr

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

Please reach out to your Ministry of Foreign Affairs and diplomatic representatives in Turkey, calling on them to raise Meral Şimşek’s case in bilateral fora.

***Please send appeals immediately. Check with PEN International if sending appeals after 21 September 2021. ***

Please inform PEN International of any action you take and any responses you receive. Messages can be sent to Aurélia Dondo, Europe Programme Coordinator: Aurelia.dondo@pen-international.org

https://pen-international.org/news/turkey-charges-against-kurdish-pen-member-must-be-dropped

PENWrites: Dr Abduljalil Al-Singace (Bahrain)

English PEN’s ongoing PENWrites letter-writing campaign, which Irish PEN supports, now includes Dr Abduljalil Al-Singace, an award-winning academic, activist, and blogger from Bahrain. He has spent the last decade in prison, where he is serving a life-sentence for his role in the 2011 pro-democracy protests.  
  
In July 2021, Dr Al-Singace launched a hunger strike to protest his ill-treatment in prison, in particular the confiscation of a manuscript he had been working on for years. Amid mounting concerns for his health and well-being, we continue to call for his immediate and unconditional release. We hope you will join us in sending a message of support and solidarity. 

Write to Dr Abduljalil Al-Singace at https://www.englishpen.org/pen-writes/penwrites-dr-abduljalil-al-singace/

If you write to Dr Abduljalil Al-Singace as a member of Irish PEN, please say so in your letter. International support is important.

VARAVARA RAO EVENT, 29th September 2021

Join Irish PEN/PEN na hÉireann, Scottish PEN and guests

as we share readings and updates on the case of renowned Indian poet, Varavara Rao.

Wednesday 29th September 19.00-20.00

About this event

This free event will provide an overview of Rao’s remarkable life and include readings of poetry he has produced over his decades-long career. We will also provide an update on Rao’s case, and share information about the ways that attendees can demonstrate their support.

The event will be chaired by Professor Ignatius McGovern and will feature a rare opportunity to hear from Rao’s nephew, Venugopal Nellutla, who published ‘The Making of Varavara Rao: An Intimate Portrait by a Nephew‘ in 2020. The event will also include poetry and prose readings from Professor Bashabi Fraser, Leela Soma, June Considine and Kate Ennals.

The event will take place between 7.00pm-8.00pm via Zoom, and joining details will be shared with attendees in advance.

You can register by following this link: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/freedom-for-varavara-rao-tickets-169320665669

Read a recent statement published by PEN centres in support of Rao:  https://scottishpen.org/joint-statement-freedom-for-varavara-rao/

 Irish PEN/PEN na hÉireann is delighted to be hosting this event on Wednesday, 29 September 2021, in partnership with Scottish PEN.