Tag Archives: PEN International

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.

Four interviews are already available in English:

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.

JOINT STATEMENT: FREEDOM FOR VARAVARA RAO

As PEN Centres we wish to highlight the case of renowned Indian poet, Varavara Rao, to all those who care about the defense of freedom of expression for writers. We call for all charges to be dropped against Rao, and hope that you will join our campaign to ensure his freedom.

Varavara Rao is an 82-year-old poet and activist who was arrested in 2018 along with several other activists in India on charges of inciting violence under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA). The charges relate to Elgaar Parishad, a non-profit event held on 31 December 2017 to commemorate the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Koregaon Bhima. The controversial Bhima Koregaon case, and the arrests and incarcerations associated with it, shocked us and many other human rights organisations around the world.

Since his 2018 arrest, Rao has been held in appalling conditions. The notorious Taloja Central Prison where he has been held took no account of his age and fragility. In July 2020, he tested positive for Covid-19 and was moved to JJ Hospital in Mumbai. Here, his visiting relatives reportedly found him unattended and delirious on a urine-soaked bed.

On 22 February 2021, Rao was released from custody on an interim bail agreement, after the Bombay High Court conceded that ‘…the hospital at the Taloja Central Prison is not adequately equipped to take care of the undertrial, given his advanced age and various health conditions. Sending the undertrial back to Taloja Central Prison would certainly endanger his life.’

Our relief when this decision was reached by the Bombay High Court is now tempered with grave fears that he will be returned to jail when this six-month bail period ends. We also remain deeply concerned over the bail conditions imposed on Rao, which include prohibiting him from speaking with media and restricting his movements to the Mumbai area, hundreds of kilometres from his hometown of Telangana.

Sharing her fears for Rao’s future, Scottish PEN Trustee and Writers at Risk Committee member Bashabi Fraser said:

‘We do not want Varavara Rao to be returned to jail to meet the same fate as the humanitarian social worker, 84-year-old Father Stan Swamy, an innocent man who was incarcerated as a political prisoner and died in jail in early July 2021. Father Swamy had been held without trial charged on the same Elgaar Parishad case as the much respected 82-year-old poet activist, Varavara Rao. Varavara Rao has been wrongly accused. We demand that all fabricated charges are dropped against Rao and he is allowed to live as a free man with dignity’.

A Marxist poet and activist, Rao is an important figure in Telugu literature, and has published over 15 poetry collections since the 1960s. He is a founder of the Virasam – the Revolutionary Writers Association, and ran Srujana (Creation), a monthly journal focusing on modern Telugu literature, for over 25 years. His prison diary – Captive Imagination – was published in English in 2010. Rao is well known for his campaigning work to secure land and labour rights for Indian workers, and PEN Centres have been advocating for his freedom since his arrest in 2018. A poetry anthology dedicated to Rao, entitled Freedom Raga, was published last year and an anthology of his work in English is forthcoming from Penguin India this autumn.

June Considine, co-founder of the Freedom to Write Campaign (Ireland) and Board member of Irish PEN, made the following call to Indian authorities:

‘Now in his eighty-second year, Rao’s reputation as a poet has garnered him an international audience. He is widely respected for his principles and defense of human rights. We hope that the Indian authorities will afford him those same democratic liberties and take account of his distinguished career, his great age and declining health. This humanitarian gesture will reflect the true value of a functioning democracy’

We, the undersigned PEN Centres, call for the immediate release of Varavara Rao and fellow Elgaar Parishad activists and for the release of all prisoners being held for exercising their right to peaceful freedom of expression.

  • Scottish PEN
  • Irish PEN
  • PEN International
  • English PEN
  • PEN Delhi

To support our call to action please consider the following:

  • Write to representatives of the government of India in your country expressing your concern.
  • Write to the Honorable Prime Minister, Narendra Modi.
  • Write to your country’s Foreign Ministry about the case.
  • Inform local and online news and media outlets about the case.
  • Read Varavara Rao’s work and share it with your friends. Consider holding an event in support of Varavara Rao around the time of his bail hearing.
  • Join your local PEN Centre, inform yourself about this and other cases, get involved.

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