Tunisia: TMG Condemns Attempts by Authorities to Silence Dissenting Voices

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TMG condemns attempts by authorities to silence dissenting voices

SOURCE: IFEX Tunisia Monitoring Group (IFEX-TMG)

**For further information on the 28 September 2007 attack on Hajji, see IFEX alert of 1 October 2007

** (IFEX-TMG) - The following is an IFEX-TMG press release: Tunisia: TMG Condemns Attempts by Authorities to Silence Dissenting Voices

International PEN, together with its fellow Tunisian Monitoring Group (TMG) members, condemns the court decision given on the 1st of October to expel the officially acknowledged opposition party of the Tunisian ruling party; the Tunisian Progressive Democratic Party (PDP), and the PDP's official newspaper Al-Mawkef from their premises. The weekly newspaper had been stationed in its headquarters for nearly 13 years and has suffered repeated and frequent harassment from Tunisian authorities.

The Director of Al-Mawkef, Nejib Chebbi, and the Secretary General of the PDP, Maya Jribi, have been on hunger strike since the 20th of September.

The hunger strike was initiated in protest to the authorities' use of the judicial system to "silence the voices of freedom"; this came following a case brought against the Al-Mawkef director by his landlord for using the apartment he was hiring as PDP headquarters. This charge and subsequent conviction was brought against Chebbi at the behest of the Tunisian authorities who pressurise landlords to act. It is reported that similar branches of the same party have, in the past, also been evicted in similar ways.

The latest attack by the Tunisian security forces on Lotfi Hajji, a reporter for the television station Al-Jazeera, when he attempted to report on the hunger strike, demonstrates the poor level of recognition of freedom of expression rights in the country. Hajji had been prevented from entering PDP & Al-Mawkef headquarters three times already and was again on the 28th of September and 2nd of October prevented from entering the newspaper and party offices.

The TMG sees the blatant attempt to silence dissenting voices through censorship, intimidation and appalling use of judicial courts, as an obvious infringement on the fundamental human right to freedom of expression, enshrined in Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), which Tunisia has both signed and ratified. The TMG calls on the Tunisian government to stop all procedures to expel the PDP from its office and to stop all censorship and blockage of Al-Mawkef and the Progressive Democratic Party's websites. Two websites were blocked a few months ago by the authorities. Access to another website, hosted in Canada, has been blocked in Tunis since 2005 although it is currently accessible from overseas. The TMG lends its support to Nejib Chebbi and Maya Jribi in their campaign for greater acknowledgment of Tunisian human rights and calls on international society demonstrate their support for their case in signing the online petition http://www.petitiononline.com/pdpinfo/petition.html.

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International PEN Members World Wide Stage Events in Honour of Anna Politkovskaya

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International PEN Members World Wide Stage Events in Honour of Anna Politkovskaya on the Anniversary of her death,

7 October Anna Politkovskaya was a model for writers everywhere. From her publications Putin’s Russia and A Dirty War; a Russian Reporter in Chechnya to the recent A Russian Diary published posthumously, and her many articles as special correspondent for Novaya Gazeta, she fought to uncover the truth regardless of the danger she faced.

Her death in Moscow, on October 7 2006, shocked writers across the world. She spoke at many PEN meetings worldwide, sharing her writing and insight in print and in person. She became a friend to many in International PEN. For her extraordinary courage, her integrity and professionalism as a journalist, her quiet dignity and steely determination, International PEN will long remember her.

International PEN’s International Secretary, Eugene Schoulgin, comments: ‘Anna Politkovskaya was a brave and dedicated woman in her struggle to give a voice to those who have become victims of shameless and merciless powers. She must not be forgotten, not this year and not in years to come. Anna has become a symbol for us all. We want to remember her and the many other colleagues who have given their lives for the sake of truth and freedom of expression.’

International PEN Writers in Prison Committee RUSSIA: Anna Politkovskaya

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Anniversary Appeals

On 10 September 2007, International PEN reported that, after almost a year with little news of the progress of the investigation into the murder of Russian journalist Anna Politkovskaya, the arrests in late August 2007 of ten suspects should be an indication of progress. Yet questions have been raised about the conduct of the investigation with claims that it is being “politicised” and that leaks and confusion surrounding the case has undermined confidence that justice will be found. There has been no significant developments in recent weeks.[1]

Peace Day (September 1st) Declaration of the Peace Association of Turkey

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War "Divides”, Peace “Unites” 20th Century had started with a glorious opening in which humanity witnessed the most courageous actions for the ideals of equality, freedom and peace. The second half of the century, however, experienced the attacks of the most ferocious barbarian gangs the humanity has ever witnessed provoked by their imperialist masters against the struggle for equality and freedom, but also, -and fortunately, their defeat. September 1st is the day the barbarian gangs, defeated by the “great humanity”, had started their attacks.

However, the events in the last quarter of the century showed that to give up struggling for equality and freedom means to loose its humanity and that if it continues like this, the world will be a place where inequality in spite of equality, slavery in spite of freedom and war in spite of peace will dominate.

War "Splits”

We could have mentioned other regions of the world. But we live together with these people, we share the same faith in the same region, that the Western imperialist masters call Middle East. Accordingly, we will choose our instances from this region.

Yugoslavia or Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, if we prefer to mention it with its correct name. First, they broke up the decision of the peoples of Yugoslavia, who had lived together despite their distinct ethnic origins, to continue to live together and to maintain their gains, by a war. Then, they provoked conflicts between federal republics that constituted the union, one against the other. And finally they created minor mafia states out of each autonomous region of a federal republic, by new wars.

Afghanistan. First, they weakened the relationship of the Afghani progressive forces, who struggled for removal of the dominance of the land lords, with Afghani people, by a series of civil wars. Then they called religious reactionaries supported by USA “freedom fighters”, and called those who struggled against these “occupiers”, by the intermediary of another war. Time passed, “freedom fighters” became “terrorists”, those who supported these became “apostles of democracy”. Today Afghanistan is a country occupied by NATO and USA.

Iraq. First they provoked conflicts between two neighboring people, by Iran-Iraq war. Then, they shattered Iraqi people, by two major wars and by ten years of blockade in between. That was not enough. They occupied the country under the pretext of "we will bring freedom". But they confronted with the resistance. Then they said, "Iraq is not a unity (united whole). There are Sunnis, Shiites, and Kurds in it. The country should be divided”. Reactionary, divided, collaborator Federal Republic of Iraq followed.

Turkish PEN Centre 2007 brochure

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TURKEY: Monthly “301” Action – 19 September 2007

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PEN members are asked to continue the monthly action taking place on or around 19th of each month in memory of the murdered Armenian-Turkish Editor, Hrant Dink, killed on that day in January 2007.

**Total numbers of writers and journalists on trial under Article 301 – 26**

In this alert:

 ** PEN, Article 19 and IPA Issue Joint Statement Calling for 301 Repeal

 ** Noted Writer and Editor Among Those Facing New 301 Charges

 ** Trial against Hrant Dink’s killers continues

PEN, Article 19 and IPA Issue Joint Statement Calling for 301 Repeal Nine months after the 19 January murder of Armenian Turkish editor, Hrant Dink, writers, journalists and publishers continue to be tried under Article 301 of the Turkish Penal Code, accused of insult to “Turkishness” and to Turkish institutions. In a joint statement issued on 10 September 2007, International PEN, Article 19 and the International Publishers Association called for the abolition of Article 301, citing it’s adverse effect on the right to freedom of expression. See letter attached.

Writer Perihan Magden and Editor Hasan Cakalkurt Among Those Facing New 301 Charges The joint statement refers to 18 trials against 24 writers and journalists under Article 301 current as of July. More cases have been brought for prosecution since, notably against author Perihan Magden and newspaper editor Hasan Çakalkurt.

Perihan Magden is a well known author and commentator, who was acquitted last year of charges of encouraging military objection for an article that protested the imprisonment of a conscientious objector. In August charges were reportedly filed against her for an article published in Radikal that questioned the press embargo against reporting on the discovery of arms in a house in Istanbul. Editor in chief of the same newspaper, Hasan Çakalkurt is also threatened with prosecution under Article 301 for a piece in his newspaper containing a translation of a book The Forgotten Holocaust by British journalist, Robert Fisk, published in August, on the mass killings and deportations of Armenians in the early 20th century. Charges have also been filed against Cakalkurt for another article, this time with a translation from an article by American journalist Jeff Jacoby, also referring to the Armenian genocide, and published in August in the Boston Globe.

CHINA/TIBET AUTONOMOUS REGION: Tibetan monk and writer Venerable Rinchen Sangpo

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The Writers in Prison Committee of International PEN is seriously concerned about reports that Tibetan monk and writer Venerable Rinchen Sangpo has been subject to harassment and ill treatment by the authorities since August 2006, when he was released from one month’s detention without charge. PEN is seriously concerned that Rinchen Sangpo appears to be targeted for his critical writings, and calls on the authorities to ensure his right to free expression in accordance with Article 19 of the United Nations International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which China is a signatory.

According to information received by International PEN in August 2007, Tibetan monk and writer Venerable Rinchen Sangpo has been subject to harassment by the authorities which has been worsening since January 2007. He was first arrested on or around 19 July 2006 and held without charge for a month, apparently for his critical writings. He has since been subject to movement restrictions and repeated harassment by the authorities. He was reportedly arrested again on 4 April 2007 in Amdo Golak while on his way to a religious festival, and held for five days in various police stations and beaten by officers. He also claims to have been tortured whilst in police custody. He has since been living in hiding in rural Tibet.

Bulgarian PEN Centre New Bulletin

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Decisions taken at the meeting of PEN Women Writers Committee (WWC) of Turkey

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September 15-2007

1-It has been decided to organize seminar-meetings every three months starting from January 2008 under the title of “conceptual and tematical aproaches towards the place of women in literature”. The meetings will be open to public. Committee member Nalan Barbarosoğlu will be responsible for the organization of this cultural event.

2-A decision has been taken to start with the preparations of a special activity for Güzin Dino (academician at Paris Eastern Languages Instıtute, linguist, translator, essayist and writer) foreseen to take place at the beginning of December.

3-The fact that Judith Buckrich has been made honorary member of Turkish PEN has been eagerly welcome by the Committee. It has also been decided to regulary send news of our Committee to the International Newsletter of IPWWC.

4-Karin Karakaşlı and Nazan Haydari will be responsible for the English Editorial work.

5-It has been decided to participate at the “Women and War” title of Portuguese WWC on Internet. A similar undertaking is also planned by Turkish WWC to cover works of women writers abroad under a special title.

6- Another project is “Reading Days”. Planning will be done by Özlem N. Yılmaz.

7- Subcommissions will be formed in the coming period for PEN members willing to work with Turkish PEN WWC.

8-Next meeting will be held on October 13 Saturday, at 11:00 in PEN center office.

Translated by Karin Karakaşlı

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