Tag Archives: PEN International

Culture in a Time of War – Dublin Book Festival

Thursday 9th November, 6:30 p.m.

Venue: The Royal Irish Academy, Dawson Street, Dubin 2

Irish PEN/PEN na hÉireann in partnership with Dublin Book Festival and the Ukrainian-Irish Cultural Platform host a discussion centred on the importance of preserving cultural memory in times of war. With journalist, cultural manager, Executive Director of PEN Ukraine, and curator Tetyana Teren; poet, essayist, and Professor of Cultural Studies Iryna Starovoyt; and curator of the WOUNDED CULTURE project, cultural analyst and manager at PEN International Olha Mukha

This event will be dedicated to the memory of Victoria Amelina, Ukrainian writer, human rights activist and much-loved colleague, who would have been here with us for these event if she had not been killed, along with 12 other people, by a Russian missile strike in Kramatorsk, Ukraine.

This event is supported by Dublin UNESCO City of Literature, in association with Dublin City Council.

Admission is free but booking is essential, please click here.

PEN INTERNATIONAL STATEMENT ABOUT THE MURDER OF VICTORIA AMELINA


Ukraine: PEN International mourns the killing of writer and PEN Ukraine member Victoria Amelina

03 July 2023 – PEN International joins PEN Ukraine in mourning the killing of writer, PEN Ukraine member and human rights defender Victoria Amelina, following a horrific Russian missile strike in Kramatorsk, Eastern Ukraine on 27 June 2023. Amelina was seriously injured and rushed to hospital in Dnipro. She passed away on 1 July 2023. She was 37 years old.

In a statement published on 2 July 2023, PEN Ukraine said:

‘With our greatest pain, we inform you that Ukrainian writer Victoria Amelina passed away on 1 July in Mechnikov Hospital in Dnipro. Her death was caused by injuries incompatible with life, which she suffered from during the Russian missile shelling of a restaurant in Kramatorsk on 27 June 2023. We are announcing this news now when all Victoria’s family members have learned about it and with their consent (…). Victoria Amelina, Ukrainian writer and member of PEN Ukraine, who has been documenting Russian war crimes with the human rights initiative Truth Hounds, was in Kramatorsk with a delegation of Colombian writers and journalists. As they were having dinner at the Ria Lounge restaurant downtown, Russians launched a missile attack on this restaurant. Victoria was severely injured. Doctors and paramedics in Kramatorsk and Dnipro did everything they could to save her life, but the injuries were fatal and incompatible with life. In the last days of Victoria’s life, her closest people and friends were with her (…). For us, Victoria’s friends, and colleagues, it is very important the cultural initiatives set up by her, could last. Very soon we will share with you information about the ways you can support her life’s work.’

Romana Cacchioli, Executive Director of PEN International, said:

We are devasted by the killing of our friend and PEN member Victoria Amelina. Our thoughts and prayers are with her family and loved ones during these terrible times. Victoria’s strength, selflessness, and determination in the face of adversity have been an inspiration to us all. As we grieve her loss, her words, writings, and voice will forever resonate with us. Today is a tragic day for the PEN community, who stands with everyone at PEN Ukraine. Those responsible for her killing must be brought to justice.’

Born in 1986, Victoria Amelina was a prize-winning writer and poet, and founder of the New York Literature Festival in the Donetsk region, Eastern Ukraine. Since the Russian Federation’s full-scale military invasion of Ukraine on 24 February 2022, Amelina had been documenting war crimes with the human rights initiative Truth Hounds, and notably uncovered the war diary of Ukrainian writer Volodymyr Vakulenko, who was abducted by Russian forces on 24 March 2022. On 28 November 2022, after the Ukrainian army recaptured Izium from Russian forces, DNA analysis confirmed that the body found in grave N.319 in the woods of Izium was that of Vakulenko. Amelina had recently taken part in the first presentation of his war diary at the Book Arsenal literary festival in Kyiv on 23 June 2023.

PEN International has repeatedly called on the Russian Federation to immediately and unconditionally end its devastating war against Ukraine, including through a Resolution adopted at PEN International’s 88th annual Congressin September 2022, a statement marking a year of war crimes and resolve in Ukraine, and a Declaration of PEN International’s Writers for Peace Committee issued in May 2023.

Full statement available here: https://www.pen-international.org/news/pen-international-mourns-the-killing-of-victoria-amelina

WRITER AND PEN UKRAINE MEMBER VICTORIA AMELINA SERIOUSLY INJURED IN RUSSIAN MISSILE STRIKE ON KRAMATORSK

(Statement from PEN International)

Members and Board members of Irish PEN/PEN na hÉireann are appalled and devastated by the news that our dear friend, award-winning writer and war crimes researcher Victoria Amelina, has been injured in a Russian missile strike in Kramatorsk. We wish, as hard as we have ever wished for anything, that Victoria will have a swift recovery. Here is a statement from PEN International:

29 June – PEN International joins PEN Ukraine in condemning the horrific Russian missile strike in Kramatorsk, Eastern Ukraine on 27 June 2023. Twelve people had been killed and more than 60 wounded at the time of writing, including writer, PEN Ukraine member and human rights defender Victoria Amelina, who remains in hospital.

Victoria was in Kramatorsk with Colombian writer Héctor Abad Faciolince, journalist Catalina Gómez Ángel and politician Sergio Jaramillo at the time of the attack. The Colombian delegates sustained minor injuries… more on the PEN International website.

Emergency Resource List

(for writers and journalists at risk)

NB: This list has been checked/updated as far as possible in August 2022

PEN CENTRES:

PEN International: The PEN Emergency Fund provides assistance to persecuted writers and journalists who are in acute financial need. For more information, please contact Aurélia Dondo, Europe Programme Coordinator at PEN International: 

aurelia.dondo@pen-international.org

PEN America administer an emergency fund:

https://pen.org/campaign/pen-america-writers-emergency-fund/

PEN America also has a guide to digital security/online harassment
https://onlineharassmentfieldmanual.pen.org

PEN Finland’s Hate Speech Toolkit: https://www.suomenpen.fi/userassets/uploads/2021/06/the-hate-speech-toolkit-en-110621-web.pdf

OTHER RESOURCES

ARTICLE 19 is part of the Media Freedom Rapid Response which has funding for legal and protection costs for journalists, along with monitoring and advocacy. https://www.mfrr.eu  

Front Line Defenders offers emergency assistance, financial support and training – including around digital security – to eligible journalists facing threats in Northern Ireland. Apply online: https://www.frontlinedefenders.org/en/programme/protection-grants 

Front Line Defenders also have a comprehensive list of other funding options on their website: https://www.frontlinedefenders.org/en/resource-publication/other-funding-organisations

Human Rights Watchhttps://www.hrw.org/human-rights-watch/hellman-hammett-grants

International Federation of Journalistshttps://www.ifj.org/safety-fund.html

International Media Support https://www.mediasupport.org/what-we-do/safety-for-journalists/#safety-fund

Journalists in Distress network https://www.journalistsindistress.org/ 

This is a group of organisations who provide emergency support, many of them listed here. It might be worth familiarising yourself with this site prior to an emergency to identify which of the organisations are most likely to be able to help if and when needed.

Reporters sans Frontières: Assistance for Journalists 

https://rsf.org/en/individual-support

The Rory Peck Trust provides assistance and support to freelance journalists and their families worldwide: https://rorypecktrust.org/

They also have a risk assessment guide:

The Society of Authors runs The Authors’ Contingency fund. Writers can apply directly to the SoA for support:
https://www.societyofauthors.org/Grants/contingency-funds

Risk Assessment

PEN Finland’s Hate Speech Toolkit: https://www.suomenpen.fi/userassets/uploads/2021/06/the-hate-speech-toolkit-en-110621-web.pdf

Rory Peck Trust (see above):

From Words to Bullets: Ukrainian Writers and Journalists on the Russo-Ukrainian War

“Words and Bullets” is an online media project launched by the Ukrainian cultural and publishing media Chytomo and PEN Ukraine with support of the National Endowment for Democracy (NED). This is a series of interviews with writers and journalists who became soldiers or volunteers following the Russian invasion. 

The authors and journalists featured in this project all see their lives as divided into a “before and after”. The explosions that rocked Ukrainian cities on Feb. 24 forever changed their personal trajectories. Some left their homes and rushed to save children or elderly parents, others joined the volunteer movement that helps supply the Ukrainian army, and many joined the Ukrainian territorial defense forces or the Armed Forces of Ukraine. 

The project started in June 2022, more than ten interviews with authors and journalists who became soldiers or volunteers due to the war will be published in Chytomo.

Some interviews are already available in English:

https://chytomo.com/en/oleksiy-sinchenko-the-war-makes-you-forget-everything-you-have-learned-before-and-begin-from-scratch/

https://chytomo.com/en/valeriy-puzik-the-war-is-when-everyone-does-what-it-takes/

https://chytomo.com/en/dmytro-krapyvenko-it-is-important-to-talk-about-the-losses-in-order-not-to-get-delusional-and-think-that-there-are-some-immortals-fighting-on-our-side/

https://chytomo.com/en/dnistrovy-russia-s-war-against-ukraine-is-its-last-cry-in-the-desert/

https://chytomo.com/en/soldier-artem-chapeye-if-i-hadn-t-gone-the-first-day-i-would-have-gone-a-week-later/

https://chytomo.com/en/halyna-kruk-war-as-an-existential-crisis-gives-birth-to-very-bright-manifestations-of-culture/

PEN TURKEY PROTESTS THE GEZI VERDICT – (Osman Kavala & Co-Defendants)

Statement from PEN Turkey https://www.pen.org.tr/ 27/04/2022

GEZİ IS OUR FREEDONM OF THOUGHT AND FREEDOM OF EXPRESSİON

 We are addressing not to those without conscience, but  to those with conscience. We are addressing not to despots, but to democrats. Not to the lawless but to those who respect law. Not to obeyers of despotism but to citizens.

We are addressing not those who keep acting against the Constitution, but to those who take the definition  in our constitution seriously: ‘The Republic of Turkey is a secular democratic social state based on human rights.’

The Gezi Park Protests in 2013 were peaceful and constitutional reactions of environmentalist citizens who demanded democracy and human rights. They were our reactions. Gezi is us. Gezi is hope. Gezi is solidarity. Gezi is freedom of thought and expression. Gezi is the right to choose your life style. Gezi is the possibility of co-habitation of differences. Gezi is our richness.  Gezi is well and alive, because our demand for democracy and law is well and alive. 

 We stand by  all our friends  convicted in the Gezi Protests. Life long sentence and 18 years of imprisonment, is the result  due to the lack of independent justice and lack of division of powers.  It is yet  another slur on jurisprudence in our country  at this stage.

Totally ignoring  the numerous vitally serious issues we face in our country,  totally  disregarding human rights, laws & justice, these sentences are handed down in  acts of plain vengeance  about a  civil resistance movement which took place ten years ago & involved millions of people.

 This is what We, as PEN Turkey  would like to  say on this subject:

We are calling to account all those who ignore our constitution; ignore independent justice; those who misuse their authority by cheating on every level; those who destroy our forests, rivers, lakes, shores, render our cities uninhabitable; those who thrive on tensions brought on by divisive acts, vengeance & strife. Those who incite atmospheres of tension & terror should be made well aware that “TOMORROW” and “HOPE” , “ JUSTİCE” and  “DEMOCRACY” are  not very far away for our beautiful country.

PEN TURKEY

To learn more about the defendants on Bianet: https://m.bianet.org/english/human-rights/261038-who-are-the-eight-convicts-of-the-gezi-trial#

Books for Ukraine

At a recent “Dialogues on War” event organised by PEN International, in a conversation between Andreiy Kurkov and Philippe Sands, Kurkov was asked what people could do to support Ukrainian writers. “Read their books”, was his reply.

Sands’ own incredible, brilliant, East West Street, illuminates Ukraine’s extraordinary role in European history and international Human Rights law. Part memoir, part family history, part legal analysis, the book reads like a thriller.

Here is a link to a list of recommended titles by Ukrainian and non-Ukrainian authors, put together by PEN International. The list was edited by Diana Delyurman, Iryna Rodina and Myroslava Mokhnatska.

And here’s a selection from that list, with additions from people who were on that and later calls:

Applebaum, Anne Red Famine: Stalin’s War on Ukraine (History)

Hnatiuk Ola Courage and Fear (History: Lviv during WWII)

Kurkov, Andreiy Grey Bees (novel; currently on the Dublin Literature Award 2022 longlist)

Kurkov, Andreiy Jimi Hendrix Live in Lemberg (Lviv)

Marynovych Myroslav The Universe Behind Barbed Wire: Memoirs of a Ukrainian Soviet Dissident

Plokhy Serhii The Gates of Europe (Historical study of Ukrainian identity and sovereignty)

Sands Philippe East West Street (History, Memoir, Family History, Human Rights Law)

Shevchenko Taras (Poetry)

Snyder Timothy Black Earth: The Holocaust as History and Warning (Non Fiction: History)

Zabuzhko Oksana Selected Poems (Poetry)

Zabuzhko Oksana  “One Hundred Years of Solitude, or the Importance of a Story”(Essay: https://agnionline.bu.edu/essay/one-hundred-years-of-solitude-or-the-importance-of-a-story/ )

Zhadan Serhiy What We Live For, What We Die For: Selected Poems (poetry)

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 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.