News

INDIA: Concerns for the safety of Bangladeshi Writer Taslima Nasrin

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International PEN’s Writers in Committee is seriously concerned for the safety of Bangladeshi writer Taslima Nasrin, who is in a government safe house following violent protests by Muslim extremists in Kolkata, West Bengal. PEN welcomes the efforts by the Indian authorities to provide her protection, and urges the Indian authorities to ensure her safe passage and return to her home in Kolkata, West Bengal, at the earliest opportunity.

Taslima Nasrin, Honorary Member of Turkish PEN Centre

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Taslima Nasreen has been awarded Honorary membership of Turkish PEN Centre for her struggle for secularism and women’s rights. (Istanbul, 24 November 2007)

Born in Bangladesh in 1962, Dr Taslima Nasreen calls herself a secular-humanist. She has been under threat for her critical approach against religious fundamentalism. An exile since 1994, she has been in Sweden, Germany, USA and India. She is under protection in an undiscosed district in Delhi.

Bulgarian PEN Centre Bulletin

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Dear friends,

I have the pleasure to send you the new issue ( №10, 2007 ) of the bulletin Bulgarian PEN.

My best wishes!

Gueorgui Konstantinov

President of the Bulgarian PEN-centre

NEPAL: Journalist Birendra Shah Killed

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The Writers in Prison Committee (WiPC) of International PEN condemns the murder of Birendra Shah, a freelance journalist, whose body was found on 8 November 2007 after being kidnapped by Maoist cadres on 5 October 2007. Maoist authorities issued a statement on 5 November confirming that members of their party were responsible for Shah’s death, and that he had been murdered on the day of his abduction.

Turkish PEN Award to Vlada Urošević of Macedonia

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P.E.N. has been an international/ist movement since its birth in London in 1921 –after the horrors of World War I. A group of writers in Turkey ‘joined the club’ in 1950 thanks to the leadership of Ms Halide Edip Adıvar.

Tomorrow’s world literature should not be limited to a few languages. Literary treasures in all languages must be liberated from financial and political captivities. In this perspective, the Turkish PEN Centre has decided to present international awards for extraordinary creativity especially in non-widespread languages. Each symbolic award will be accompanied by translation, honorary membership, and a holiday in Istanbul.

No jury can be above a master. A prize or award can (or should) only represent a sign of gratitude and not something given from above.

We are also aware that great literary output implies more than one great writer in the same area. So although an award is presented to one person, it implies respect to other important authors as well - with the hope of focusing on the literature of a certain part of our planet.

The honour award to be presented is named after Ms Halide Edip Adıvar, the first President of Turkish PEN Centre.

And we are happy to announce that we have agreed upon presenting the Halide Edip Adıvar Honour Award to Mr Vlada Urošević of Macedonia for his outstanding achievements in literature and significant contributions to humanity.

May his life and works inspire more and more people on our planet.

*Tarık Günersel (Mr) President [email protected], Aysu Erden (Ms) Intercentral Secretary, Chair of T&LRC [email protected], Gülseli İnal (Ms) Chair of Publication Committee [email protected], Ülkü Ayvaz (Mr) Vice-President, Sabri Kuşkonmaz (Mr) General Secretary, Faruk Şüyün (Mr) Chair of International Activities, Ayten Mutlu (Ms) Board Member Accountant, Nihat Ateş (Mr) Board Member, Editor of website www.pen.org.tr, Özcan Karabulut (Mr) Advisor and Ankara Representative , Raşit Gökçeli (Mr) Member of Auditing Committee.

Vlada Urošević Born 1934 in Skopje. Graduated from the Faculty of Philosophy in Skopje. In 1981 he was habilitated at the Faculty of Philology "Blaze Koneski" in Skopje; gained his Ph.D. in 1987. Worked as a research fellow and was editor for the Cultural and Art Board with Television Skopje. In 1982 he became an associate professor at the Department of General and Comparative Literature at the Faculty of Philology in Skopje, since 1988 he has been a full time professor. Was editor of the literary journal "Razgledi". Correspondent member of the Academie Mallarme in Paris and a member of the European Literary Academy in Luxembourg. Member of the Macedonian Academy of Sciences and Arts. Member of the Macedonian P.E.N. Centre. Member of the Macedonian Writers' Association since 1961. Works: Another city (poetry, 1959), Unseeing (poetry, 1962), The taste of Peaches (novel, 1965), A mannequin in the scenery (poetry, 1965), Summer rain (poetry, 1967), Signs (short stories, 1969), Contemporaries (criticism and essays, 1971), The night coach (short stories, 1972), Star balance (poetry, 1973), Diving Bell (poetry, 1975), The Dreamer and the Emptiness (poetry, 1979), The net for the evasive (criticism and essays, 1980), A unicorn hunt (short stories, 1983), The dream compass (poetry, 1984), Ariadne's thread (criticism and essays, 1985), Hypnopolis (poetry, 1986), Underground palace (essays, 1987), Demons and Galaxies (study, 1988), Planet in Panic (poetry, 1989), Aldebaran (notes and travelogue, 1991), The Mythical axis of the World (criticism and essays 1993), Risks of the Trade (poetry, 1993), My cousin Emilia (novel, 1994), Panics (poetry, 1995), The court poet in a flying machine (novel, 1996), Stories from Paris (notes and travelogue, 1997), Astrolab (criticism and essays, 2000), Wild league (novel, 2000). Has compiled a number of anthologies: The Black Bull of Summer (1963), French Poetry - 20th century, Black Tower (1976), Contemporary Macedonian Poetry (in Serbo-Croation, 1978), Cosmos in the Barn (in Dutch, 1980), Tower (in Uzbek language, 1981).

Awards include: "Miladinov Brothers" (1967, 1973 and 1986), "Grigor Prlicev" (1974 and 1989), "Racinovo priznanie", "Kiril Pejcinovic - Tetoec" and the Awards by "Mladost" and "Nolit".

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.

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