Friday, May 15, 2009

English PEN is sponsoring Shakespeare and Company's fourth literary festival, Politics and Storytelling in Paris

Festival &Co: Politics and Storytelling

18-20 June 2010
Venue: Venues across Paris

English PEN is proud to announce that it will be sponsoring Shakespeare and Company's fourth literary festival, Politics and Storytelling, which will take place in Paris from June 18-20, 2010. In the spirit of Shakespeare and Company's fifty-year-independent bookshop, FestivalandCo is an international yet intimate event that is mostly free and open to all.

2010: Politics and Storytelling
Next year's theme will explore the way writers depict, transform and influence their political environment. What role does politics play in the novel? How much do politicans rely on invention and storytelling? Do writers have a political responsibility? How do censorship and ideology shape our culture? Authors from around the world will discuss these issues amongst others and look at the importance of literature in our present cultural climate.

Over the course of three days we will host readings, panel discussions, book signings and film screenings. Held in the park next to Shakespeare and Company opposite Notre Dame, the festival will attract authors, actors and spectators from around the world. There will also be special events in select venues across Paris such as Théâtre de l'Odéon, the École des Beaux-Arts and the Hôtel de Ville.

Visit www.festivalandco.com for further details.


FestivalandCo 2008
The 2008 festival, Real Lives: Exploring Memoir and Biography, attracted over 6000 people. The 35 participating authors included Paul Auster, Alain de Botton, Jung Chang, Rachel Cusk, A.C. Grayling, A.M. Homes, Siri Hustvedt, Hermione Lee, Catherine Millet, Amélie Nothomb, Marjane Satrapi, André Schiffrin and Jeanette Winterson. Charlotte Rampling and other actors also participated.

FestivalandCo 2008 was sponsored by The New York Review of Books, the Times Literary Supplement, English PEN, Eurostar, Roederer Champagne, Montblanc, the Mairie de Paris, the French Ministry of Culture, The British Council, The American Embassy and other associations.


Shakespeare and Company
Shakespeare and Company was opened by George Whitman in 1951. Over the years, writers such as Allen Ginsberg, William Burroughs, Henry Miller, Anaïs Nin, Richard Wright, Lawrence Durrell, James Baldwin, and Lawrence Ferlinghetti have written, given readings and even lived at the shop. Now 95 years old, George has received the Officier des Arts et Lettres from the French Government for his long-running contribution to Parisian literary history. His daughter, Sylvia Whitman, now runs the institution and founded FestivalandCo in 2003.

International PEN continues to work with the African PEN Centres

Africa Regional Programme

The Africa Regional Programme is now in its third year and the focus in 2009 will be on Centre sustainability, evaluation and shared learning, and the development of new and existing programmes. These programmes will be developed in the priority programmatic areas the Centres identified: education, library and community access, and the promotion of literature.

2008 International PEN funded projects

Education Projects

Library and Community Access projects

Literature and Public Engagement projects

Day of the Imprisoned Writer

Six African PEN Centres held events on the Day of the Imprisoned Writer, November 15th to promote freedom of expression and human rights issues in their country in Ghana, Guinea, Malawi, Uganda, Somalia and Zambia.

International PEN will continue to work with the African PEN Centres in 2009 to develop their programmatic work and capacity

American-Iranian journalist released


IRAN: American-Iranian journalist released


11 May 2009

RAN 15/09 - Update #2

The Writers in Prison Committee (WiPC) of International PEN welcomes the release on 11 May 2009 of Iranian-American journalist and writer Roxana Saberi, who has been held since January 2009. She had been sentenced to eight-years in prison on charges of ‘espionage'.

According to press reports, Roxana Saberi, aged 31, was released today from Tehran's Evin prison a few hours after the appeal hearing, in which the charge of espionage was dropped to the lesser charge of ‘having access to classified information' and the eight-year prison sentence reduced to a two-year suspended sentence. Her father met her as she left prison, and the family are understood to be leaving Iran soon. Saberi has also been banned from working as a journalist in Iran for five years.

Background
Roxana Saberi was arrested in late January 2009 for buying alcohol, which is prohibited in Iran. In early March it was reported that her detention was linked to her allegedly ‘illegal' and ‘unauthorised' activities as a journalist in Iran since 2006, when her press credentials were revoked. However, on 18 April 2009 she was sentenced behind closed doors by the Revolutionary Court in Tehran to eight years in prison for ‘espionage', at a one-hour trial which did not conform to international standard's of fairness. According to Roxana Saberi's father, she had made confessions under pressure during her pre-trial detention which were used against her in court. In contrast, the appeal hearing is said to have been conducted in a fair and open manner, although details of the charges against her have not been made public.

More information:
BBC report: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/middle_east/8044193.stm
For the previous WiPC alert see: http://www.internationalpen.org.uk/go/news/iran-american-iranian-journalist-sentenced
Free Roxana Saberi's website: http://freeroxana.net/

***Thank you to all who took action on this case. ***

For further information please contact Cathy McCann at International PEN Writers in Prison Committee, Brownlow House, 50/51 High Holborn, London WC1V 6ER, Tel.+ 44 (0) 20 7405 0338, Fax: +44 (0) 20 7405 0339, email: cathy.mccann@internationalpen.org.uk

SENEGAL: PRESIDENT PARDONS EDITOR CONVICTED OF DEFAMATION


SENEGAL: PRESIDENT PARDONS EDITOR CONVICTED OF DEFAMATION

A Senegalese editor who was serving a three-and-a-half-year prison sentence
for defaming leading government officials has been pardoned, report the
Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA), the Writers in Prison Committee of
International PEN (WiPC) and Reporters Without Borders (RSF).

El Malick Seck, editor of the Dakar daily "24 Heures Chrono", was freed
eight months into his sentence on 24 April following a Presidential pardon.

Seck was arrested in August 2008 only hours after writing an editorial that
alleged President Wade and his son Karim, a special adviser, were involved
in a money laundering scheme. He was handed a three-year jail term for
offending the head of state, publishing false news and threatening public
order. "24 Heures Chrono" was suspended for three months for the same
offence.

Then on 23 December, Seck was sentenced to a further six months in prison
for defaming Interior Minister Sheikh Tidiane Sy and ordered to pay
US$66,600 in damages.

Seck and his paper are no strangers to government harassment. In yet
another defamation case, Seck and another "24 Heures Chrono" colleague were
sentenced to a one-year suspended prison term sentence, allegedly for
defaming the Ministry of Culture.

According to WiPC, Senegal is one of Africa's worst offenders for
prosecuting journalists on criminal defamation charges, with about 20 such
cases brought against journalists every year. Courts frequently hand down
disproportionate rulings, often consisting of both custodial sentences and
heavy fines. But in the recent past journalists have rarely gone to prison.

President Abdoulaye Wade pledged to repeal criminal penalties for press
offences, including defamation in 2004, but, says WiPC, "the use of
criminal defamation laws against journalists, including those providing for
'insulting the President', appears to have increased in recent years." WiPC
urges the President to review Senegal's defamation laws and fulfil his
promise to decriminalise press offences.

Visit these links:
- Journalist El Malick Seck pardoned (MFWA):
http://www.ifex.org/en/content/view/full/102674/
- Editor El Malick Seck released (WiPC): http://tinyurl.com/q3kehw
- Le journaliste El Malick Seck libéré (RSF):
http://www.rsf.org/article.php3?id_article=30921



From International PEN

SENEGAL: Editor El Malick Seck released


The Writers in Prison Committee of International PEN (WiPC) welcomes the news that 24 Heures Chrono editor El Malick Seck, who was serving a three-and-a-half year sentence for "offending the head of state" and defaming a government minister, has been released from prison. Seck was reportedly freed on 24 April 2009 following a presidential pardon. The WiPC commends the release but reminds President Wade that Seck has apparently spent eight months in jail for exercising his right to freedom of expression. It urges the President to review Senegal's defamation laws and fulfil his promise to decriminalise press offences.


El Malick Seck, editor of the Dakar daily 24 Heures Chrono, was arrested on 28 August 2008 and sentenced to three years in prison on charges of offending the head of state, publishing false news and threatening public order on 12 September 2008. The charges reportedly stemmed from an editorial that alleged that President Wade and his son Karim, a special adviser, were involved in laundering money stolen from a bank in the Ivory Coast. Seck's arrest followed an attack on the premises of 24 Heures Chrono and another newspaper in mid-August 2008, days after the then Transport Minister Farba Senghor threatened retaliation against the papers for publishing critical stories. Government officials were allegedly involved in the attack.

On 23 December 2008, Seck was sentenced to a further six months in prison for defaming Interior Minister Sheikh Tidiane Sy and ordered to pay approx. US$66,600 in damages. In yet another defamation case against Seck another 24 Heures Chrono journalist by the Ministry of Culture's secretary general, Pape Massène Sène, the two men were each sentenced to a one-year suspended prison term and a FCFA 250,000 fine.

Seck's appeal against the original convection was rejected on 23 February 2009 and the sentence upheld. However, he was reportedly released on 24 April following a presidential pardon. He had spent a total of eight months in prison.

Background

Senegal is one of Africa's worst offenders in terms of criminal defamation prosecutions, with some 20 such cases brought against journalists every year. Courts frequently hand down disproportionate rulings, often consisting of both custodial sentences and heavy fines, although in the recent past journalists have rarely gone to prison.

President Abdoulaye Wade pledged to repeal criminal penalties for press offences, including defamation in 2004, but there has been no progress since. Indeed, the use of criminal defamation laws against journalists, including those providing for ‘insulting the President', appears to have increased in recent years.

For more information, see the WiPC's report Free Expression, Corruption and Criminal Defamation in Africa published in January 2008, available in English or French.


Please send appeals:

  • Welcoming the presidential pardon and release of El Malick Seck, editor of the Dakar daily 24 Heures Chrono, who was serving a three-and-a-half year prison sentence for "offending the head of state" and defaming a government minister;
  • However, reminding President Wade that Seck has served eight months in jail on convictions that were apparently in violation of his right to freedom of expression, guaranteed by the Senegalese Constitution, as well as by the African Union's African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights and the UN International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Senegal is party;
  • Urging the President to review Senegal's defamation laws and any criminal restrictions on content, in line with his 2004 promise to decriminalise press offences and the Declaration of Principles on Freedom of Expression in Africa.

Appeals to:

President of the Republic of Senegal
His Excellency President Abdoulaye Wade
Office of the President, Avenue Aoume, Dakar, Republic of Senegal, West Africa
Fax: + 221 33 823 1702
Salutation: Dear President Wade

Please also send appeals to diplomatic representatives of Senegal in your country.
(see http://www.diplomatie.gouv.sn/representations_diplomatiques.php?idsmenu=17&idmenu=4)

***Please send appeals immediately. Check with the WiPC if sending appeals after 8 July 2009.***

For further details please contact Tamsin Mitchell at the Writers in Prison Committee London Office: International PEN, Brownlow House, 50-51 High Holborn, London WC1V 6ER Tel: +44 (0) 207 405 0338 Fax +44 (0) 207 405 0339 email: tamsin.mitchell@internationalpen.org.uk