IWC Evolution Programme 2021

The Irish Writers Centre has announced a new Evolution Programme as part of their 30th Anniversary celebration. This Programme is a new strand of combined supports for professional writers, an opportunity for published writers resident on the island of Ireland to avail from a series of sustained supports, which are partly tailored to their specific needs. More information about this exciting opportunity here

More general information about the work of the Centre, courses on offer etc, here

PEN America EVENT: Cracking Down on Creative Voices: Turkey’s Silencing of Writers, Intellectuals and Artists Five Years After the Failed Coup

Tuesday 6/29 | 1pm ET

Since the attempted coup d’état in 2016, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has elevated his attacks on Turkey’s civil society to unprecedented levels, becoming one of the world’s foremost persecutors of freedom of expression. PEN America’s 2020 Freedom to Write Index found that Turkey was the world’s third highest imprisoner of writers and public intellectuals.

Join PEN America, the Project on Middle East Democracy, and members of Turkey’s artistic and activist communities for a discussion on how civil society and policymakers should respond to Erdoğan’s campaign of repression. The discussion will highlight PEN America’s forthcoming report on freedom of expression in Turkey, featuring interviews from members of Turkey’s literary, artistic, and human rights communities, including renowned novelist Aslı Erdoğan. Learn more and register here.

Imprisoned Catalan Writers Pardoned

(From PEN International): 23 June 2021 – PEN International and PEN Català welcome the release of unjustly imprisoned Catalan writers and civil society leaders Jordi Sànchez and Jordi Cuixart, who were serving a nine-year prison sentence for sedition through participation in Catalonia’s independence referendum held on 1 October 2017. Sànchez and Cuixart were among nine jailed Catalan politicians and activists pardoned by the Spanish government yesterday. All remain banned from public office, with the pardons conditional to them not committing serious crimes over a given period of time.

READ MORE: https://pen-international.org/news/spain-imprisoned-catalan-writers-pardoned

Gulmira Imin Statement

It is apparent that Gulmira Imin was tried and condemned on the basis of her Uhyghur nationality and that her confession was made under duress. Irish PEN calls for her immediate release and the release of all detainees in China arrested for exercising their right to protest and the restoration of freedom of expression

Read more about Gulmira Imin’s case here

PENWrites (English PEN)

Egyptian poet Galal el Behairy has been added to the list of cases being promoted by English PEN’s PENWrites Campaign, which we are, in turn, supporting.

Please remember, if you write letters for this campaign, to say that you are a member of Irish PEN.

Summary of Irish PEN Campaigns and Statements, April-June 2021

On 28th April, Poetry Day Ireland, a team of Board members tweeted extracts from work by poets from Myanmar at regular intervals throughout the day.

Since our last newsletter we have issued statements in response to the shocking rendition of journalist and blogger Roman Protasevich and student Sofia Sapega in Belarus and sent messages of support to our colleagues in PEN Belarus.

“Irish PEN/PEN n hÉireann utterly condemns the actions of the Belarus Administration in forcing the diversion of a Ryanair flight for the purpose of extracting and holding a journalist and his companion.”

We also issued a statement against the online harrassment of journalists on Social Media, quoted by Martina Devlin in her Irish Independent column on Saturday 15th May: “Irish PEN unreservedly condemns online attacks on journalists, which have real and damaging effects on writer’s ability to work and speak freely. Such attacks represent a direct threat to freedoms of thought and speech and by extension, to democracy itself.”

In this context, we’d like to draw your attention to Julie Posetti’s UNESCO document on violence/harassment against female journalists: The Chilling

and to The English PEN paper on Online Harms:

On 20th May 2021, we joined 49 other PEN Centres in a statement calling for the release of Osman Kavala .

Our co-operation with PEN Centres in England, Scotland and Wales continues, with exchanges of news and ideas and some co-operative actions, along with plans for future joint projects.

Our Freedom to Write sub-committee has joined the TURKEY ACTION GROUP. A representative attended the first meeting of this group which was both deeply interesting, as we learned of the work of other Centres, and alarming as we heard of the further erosion of rights in Turkey.

Members of the Board attended the Writers for Peace conference via Zoom, 9-11 June.