Friday, November 13, 2009

PEN American Center:PEN News: November 11, 2009‏

REMINDER

TOMORROW, November 12, 6:30 p.m.

A Tribute to Marie Ponsot
The New School: Tishman Auditorium
66 West 12th Street, NYC



CALL FOR SUBMISSIONS

2010 Literary Awards
PEN American Center is accepting submissions and nominations for the 2010 Literary Awards. For a complete list of awards and submission guidelines, please visit www.pen.org/awards.



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PEN American Center

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New York, NY 10012
Tel. (212) 334-1660
Fax. (212) 334-2181
www.pen.org

ADVOCACY NEWS

PEN Calls on President Obama to Stand Up for Free Expression in China
Prior to Barack Obama’s first state visit to China, PEN American Center sent a letter urging the President to intervene on behalf of the more than 40 writers detained because of their work. >> More

Book Groups Support Patriot Act Reform Bill in House
The Campaign for Reader Privacy urged supporters to contact members of the House of Representatives in support of a bill that tightens restrictions on using the Patriot Act to obtain library and bookstore records. >> More


UPCOMING EVENTS

Saturday, Nov. 14:
Freedom to Write

At this year's Miami Book Fair, Francine Prose, Mary Gordon, Ana Menendez, Michael Thomas, and Sam Tanenhaus explore the meaning of censorship and the power of literature to inform the way we see the world, and ourselves. >> More

Monday, November 30:
Javier Marías & Paul Auster: A Reading

Upon publication of the English translation of the final volume of his Your Face Tomorrow trilogy, Javier Marías makes his first visit to the 92nd Street Y Unterberg Poetry Center for a night of readings with Paul Auster. >> More

Wednesday, December 2:
Crossing Over: The 2009 PEN Beyond Margins Celebration

Jane Ciabattari and Brendan Curry join the 2009 Beyond Margins Award winners Uwem Akpan, Juan Felipe Herrera, and Lily Hoang for a night of readings and a panel discussion about the authors' work. >> More


NEW AT PEN.ORG

Breakout: Voices from Inside
Listen to Mary Gaitskill, Eric Bogosian, Patricia Smith, and others read award-winning work from PEN’s Prison Writing Program, along with a conversation between Jackson Taylor, Lemon Andersen, and Jamal Joseph. >> More

PEN Video
Visit the web site for video of readings and conversations from recent PEN events, in addition to audio, manuscripts, and photos:

Bearing Witness in Chechnya: The Legacy of Natalia Estemirova
Reckoning with Torture: Memos and Testimonies from the "War on Terror"

Readings from PEN America 11: Make Believe
Listen to excerpts from PEN's award-winning literary journal:

Paul Auster reads poems by Liu Xiaobo
Roxana Robinson reads "Rapture Children" by Sigrid Nunez

>> Order PEN America

Competition, prize and other information

COMPETITION

CALL FOR APPLICANTS FOR OXFORD MOOT COURT IN DEFENCE OF FREE EXPRESSION

The Programme for Comparative Media Law and Policy at Oxford has announced
the publication of the 2010 case for the Monroe E. Price Media Law Moot
Court Competition. Students will have four months to research and formulate
arguments from both the applicant's and the government's perspective,
before submitting the written memorials. The finals take place at Oxford
University in March 2010.

The moot court competition is designed to stimulate an interest in media
law and policy among students of law and other disciplines who intend to
cultivate expertise in arguing a case before an international bench of
judges. The international nature of the competition allows students to
learn from legal systems different from their own by working on comparative
studies and research of regional and international standards to inform
their own arguments and writing.

Participants will function in a world where a Universal Court of Human
Rights has been established to ensure that citizens of the United Nations
are enjoying the rights enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human
Rights (UDHR). In this world, the Universal Court replaces all
jurisdictions of all other regional courts and becomes the final
adjudicator when all national options have been exhausted.

Registration deadline: 30 November 2009.

For more information, please contact Louise Scott at louise.scott (@)
csls.ox.ac.uk or tel: +44 1865 284252.

More on the web:
- Case for 2010: http://pricemootcourt.socleg.ox.ac.uk/
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AWARDS AND FELLOWSHIPS

HONOURS PERSECUTED JOURNALISTS AND NEWS OUTLET

Canadian Journalists for Free Expression (CJFE) is honouring reporter Jila
Baniyaghoub of Iran and the Russian news outlet "Novaya Gazeta" with the
2009 International Press Freedom Award for "extraordinary courage and
overcoming tremendous odds to report the news." CJFE is also honouring
Canadian writer and journalist Terry Gould for his documentation of attacks
on the media, despite great personal risk, with the Tara Singh Hayer
Memorial Award.

"Novaya Gazeta" is an independent newspaper in Russia that challenges the
state and uncovers corruption and human rights abuses. Four of its
journalists have been murdered. Other journalists on staff have been
beaten, arrested and continue to be watched closely by the police. Unbowed,
editor Dmitry Muratov and deputy editor Sergei Sokolov continue to publish.

Jila Baniyaghoub is an Iranian editor, journalist and women's rights
activist who has been beaten, arrested and imprisoned for covering women's
rights and state oppression. Recently, she was arrested in the sweep of
dissenting voices in Iran following the disputed June elections.

Terry Gould is a freelance investigative journalist and author of "Murder
without Borders: Dying for the Story in the World's Most Dangerous Places."
This recent book looks at impunity, media repression and censorship,
examining the lives of seven journalists killed because of their work.
Gould travelled to some of the most dangerous countries for journalists:
Colombia, Russia, Philippines, Bangladesh and Iraq to interview the
journalists' families, friends and sometimes their murderers.

The 12th Annual International Press Freedom Awards Gala takes place on 9
December in Toronto.

In addition, on 27 October, CJFE saluted Paul Pritchard with the first CJFE
Citizen Journalism Award. Pritchard filmed four police officers using a
taser on Polish immigrant Robert Dziekanski in 2007, which resulted in
Dziekanski's death. "Without the tape we wouldn't have had the journalistic
investigation, the year-long inquiry into the incident, and we wouldn't
have seen the safer use of the taser by police departments across the
country," said CJFE.

Related stories on IFEX.org:
- CJFE honours two journalists and Russian news outlet with 12th annual
Press Freedom Awards: http://www.ifex.org/awards/2009/10/23/cjfe_awards/

More on the web:
- CJFE honours Paul Pritchard with the first CJFE citizen journalism award:
http://www.cjfe.org/releases/2009/28102009citizen.html

NORTH KOREAN JOURNALIST WINS HUMAN RIGHTS AWARD

The Taiwan Foundation for Democracy is honouring exiled North Korean
journalist Kim Seong-Min with its 2009 Asia Democracy and Human Rights
Award. Seong-Min is the founder and director of Free North Korea Radio and
is being recognised for his "courageous defiance" of the North Korean
regime.

The award is a show of support for Kim Seong-Min's ongoing effort to
provide an independent source of news to North Koreans. He served in the
North Korean army for 10 years, and the first time he attempted to leave
the country, he was arrested, tortured and sentenced to death. As he was
being taken to the execution site, he jumped off a moving train. In 1999,
he defected to South Korea. Free North Korea Radio was started in 2004.

The North Korean regime forbids any independent media and does not allow
Internet use, reports Reporters Without Borders (RSF). The only way to get
alternative information to North Korea is by radio broadcasts. For example,
Radio Free Chosun (RFC) in Soeul has a program that analyses textbooks,
revealing how the North Korean regime has distorted history and
information. "We urge the international community to be much more
supportive of the North Korean exile journalists who use radio stations to
defy the relentless censorship imposed by Kim Jong-il."

Kim Seong-Min will be given the award at a ceremony in Taipei on 10
December, International Human Rights Day. The award includes a US$100,000
grant to support Free North Korea Radio.

More on the web:
- Call for more international support for exile radios after station
director wins award (RSF):
http://www.rsf.org/spip.php?page=article&id_article=34926
- Taiwan Foundation for Democracy:
http://www.tfd.org.tw/english/actions.php?id=10923

PAKISTAN: JOURNALISTS TARGETED BY INSURGENTS AND DRACONIAN STATE CENSORSHIP

PAKISTAN: JOURNALISTS TARGETED BY INSURGENTS AND DRACONIAN STATE
CENSORSHIP

As the Pakistani state combats different insurgent groups, increased
violence this year has led to a crackdown on media. Some radio stations
have been ordered to not broadcast BBC Urdu-language programs and
parliament is ratifying severe regulations to control how the conflict is
covered, report the Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF) and other IFEX members.
Journalists are also caught between the military and extremists as they
struggle to practice their profession.

On 29 October, changes were made to the Pakistan Electronic Media
Regulatory Authority (PEMRA) law, introducing clauses that ban the
broadcast of statements from militants, live footage of a suicide bomber or
terrorist attack, as well as news that is counter to the ideology of
Pakistan and state sovereignty. Broadcasts are also banned that defame or
ridicule the head of state, armed forces, or the executive, legislative or
judicial branches of the state, report IFEX members. PPF reports that
lawmakers from the ruling party and the opposition supported the
amendments.

The government is combating extremists in many parts of the country under
their control, but introducing a system of censorship will only obstruct
plural voices and media development. "It's unacceptable for a democratic,
civilian-led government to propose legislation that is essentially
censorship," said Freedom House.

At the same time, PEMRA told 15 FM radio stations to stop broadcasting BBC
news bulletins because of technicalities over the terms of their licenses,
reports PPF, calling this international ban a "serious breach of freedom of
expression."

Meanwhile, in Quetta, Baluchistan, a respected newspaper "Asaap" was shut
down by a paramilitary group in August. There has been no reaction from the
government, says Reporters Without Borders (RSF).

A recent situation report by the International Federation of Journalists'
(IFJ) Asia-Pacific branch describes Pakistani journalists under threat from
separatist groups, nationalist forces, political parties and paramilitary
actors. The report focuses on the media environment in Balochistan, where
journalists struggle with low wages, lack of training and resources, as
well as frequent threats and violence with no protection offered by
employers. Those who try to practice journalism in this tense environment
tend to practise self-censorship. Some journalists must work for more than
one media outlet to earn an income, says IFJ. In fact, one journalist told
IFJ that he works for 11 media outlets. Others become journalists because
they can find no other work; they only wish to acquire a press card to take
bribes for stories, undermining the profession.

Local journalists, who work with international organisations like BBC,
Reuters, and others, enjoy a better working environment but face threats
from separatist groups who feel they have a right to international media
space to air their views, says the report.

When it comes to security concerns, journalists are cautious not to offend
any of the armed groups, says IFJ. But journalist Chisti Mujahid was
murdered in February 2008 for writing about a chief of Balochistan's
powerful Murree tribe who had been killed and buried in neighbouring
Afghanistan.

"The Baloch nationalists often dictate to us that their reports should be
published in such and such a manner," Razaur Rahman, editor of the "Daily
Express", told IFJ. Journalists have been shot at, bombed, beaten and
detained. Because of their writing, some have had their equipment seized;
others have been told to leave Balochistan or be killed.

Despite tensions in Balochistan, Pakistan's media environment has
flourished in recent years with the expansion of television and radio,
providing live domestic and international news coverage, commentary, and
call-in talk shows, giving diverse and critical viewpoints, says Freedom
House. But the recent clampdown on independent media is a serious setback,
and restricting press freedom during periods of unrest is a disservice to
the Pakistani people.

Related stories on IFEX.org:
- National Assembly Standing Committee recommends curb on electronic media
coverage: http://ifex.org/pakistan/2009/11/03/pemra_law_amendments/
- Dire conditions and insecurity confront Balochistan journalists:
http://www.ifex.org/pakistan/2009/11/10/balochistan_media_report/

WIPC ISSUES A CALL FOR SOLIDARITY FOR PERSECUTED WRITERS

INTERNATIONAL: WIPC ISSUES A CALL FOR SOLIDARITY FOR PERSECUTED WRITERS

To mark the Day of the Imprisoned Writer (DoIW) on 15 November, the Writers
in Prison Committee of International PEN (WiPC) is highlighting the cases
of imprisoned writers and honouring those who have been slain for defending
free speech. WiPC is calling on all activists and writers to show
solidarity on behalf of persecuted writers by sending appeals to
authorities. This year WiPC is shining a spotlight on five people from
around the world.

WiPC is urgently asking for help for two dissidents facing long prison
sentences.

Chinese writer Liu Xiaobo, former president and current board member of the
Independent Chinese PEN Centre, has been detained since 8 December 2008,
for advocating political reform and the protection of human rights. He was
charged in June 2009 with "incitement to subversion of state power." If
convicted, he faces up to 15 years in prison. He has had limited access to
his lawyer and family. He has a long history of human rights activism and
has been harassed, arrested, imprisoned and censored on numerous occasions.
Liu Xiaobo first received support from International PEN in 1989 after he
was arrested for protesting in Tiananmen Square.

The other imprisoned dissident that WiPC is focusing on is
singer/songwriter Lapiro de Mbanga who has been detained since April 2008
and was fined US$640,000 for writing a song critical of Cameroonian
President Paul Biya. He is serving a three-year sentence for alleged
complicity in anti-government riots. In October, it was reported that he
was suffering from typhoid fever.

WiPC also continues to advocate for Maziar Bahari, a journalist, playwright
and filmmaker with dual Iranian and Canadian citizenship who was detained
during this year's media crackdown after the disputed Iranian presidential
elections in June. After four months in Tehran's Evin prison he was
released on bail on 17 October. Although he is now in the U.K., Bahari
still faces charges.

The 15 November campaign is also an effort to remember killed journalists
and bring attention to the dangers their colleagues continue to face.
Russian journalist Natalya Estemirova was abducted from her Grozny
apartment in Chechnya and murdered in July this year. She was found shot to
death in nearby Ingushetia. She uncovered massive, ongoing human rights
violations and was the only reliable source of information on Chechnya for
other journalists and human rights organisations. In Mexico, Miguel Ángel
Gutiérrez Ávila, an anthropologist, author and indigenous rights activist,
was beaten to death in Guerrero state in July 2008.

Please send appeals for these highlighted cases on or around 15 November to
the correct authorities as well as to the embassy concerned in your own
country. Other suggested actions include organising a petition that can be
sent to the embassy of the country on 15 November with a letter requesting
an audience with the ambassador or organising a signature campaign to get
prominent writers, media personalities and others to sign an appeal.
Letters to newspapers, peaceful marches, or an event where works by
imprisoned writers will be read, to which the press is invited, are also
possible actions. Please report back to WiPC if you get a positive
response.

For more information on each of these cases and on where to send specific
appeals, please contact Sara Whyatt or Tamsin Mitchell at tel: + 44 (0) 20
7405 0338, or email: sara.whyatt (@) internationalpen.org.uk or
tamsin.mitchell (@) internationalpen.org.uk

Related stories on IFEX.org:
- Help free imprisoned songwriter:
http://ifex.org/cameroon/2009/10/28/songwriter_imprisoned/
- Journalist freed on bail; repression continues:
http://ifex.org/iran/2009/10/21/journalist_freed/

More on the web:
- WiPC's guide to defending writes under attack:
http://www.internationalpen.org.uk/go/freedom-of-expression/get-involved/guide-to-defending-writers-under-attack
- Prominent reporter abducted, murdered in Chechnya (CPJ):
http://cpj.org/2009/07/prominent-reporter-abducted-murdered-in-chechnya.php
- Liu Xiaobo (PEN American Center):
http://www.pen.org/viewmedia.php/prmMID/3029/prmID/172
- Two leading writers and advocates detained and released (CPJ):
http://www.cpj.org/2004/12/two-leading-writers-and-advocates-detained-and-rel.php

Saturday, November 7, 2009

English PEN : Events in November.


a quick reminder of the variety of events English PEN is running in November. Details of our full Writers in Public series can also be found on the English PEN website: www.englishpen.org .


Free Speech is Not for Sale

Tuesday 10 November, 12pm-2pm, light lunch provided.

This is a free event but booking is essential.

Venue: Free Word Centre, 60 Farringdon Road, EC1R 3GA

We currently have a few places remaining for our event celebrating the publication of our report on English libel law reform, and the launch of the Libel Reform Campaign.

English PEN and Index on Censorship have been looking into these issues in detail for over a year now and it has become increasingly clear to us that English libel law and the use of ‘super-injunctions’ are having a profoundly negative impact on freedom of expression, both in the UK and abroad. Writers such as Simon Singh, and respected current affairs programme Newsnight, have found themselves facing defamation suits, whilst human rights campaigners are often forced to edit and retract articles in the face of potential libel action. The launch will begin at 12 noon with an introduction by special guests. We do hope to see you at the launch of this important campaign to restore one of our most cherished freedoms.

Please RSVP to mike@libelreform.org if you are interested in attending.

St Bride’s Service

Sunday 15 November, 6.30pm

Venue: St Bride’s Church, Bride Lane, Fleet Street, London EC4

Free admission

Sunday 15 November sees our annual service to mark the International Day of the Imprisoned Writer at St Bride’s Church Fleet Street. There are currently over 650 cases of concern to PEN, writers who have been imprisoned, threatened, harassed, attacked, ill-treated, kidnapped, disappeared, and in the most extreme cases killed for exercising their right to free expression. Over 200 of these are currently in prison. This service, led by Canon David Meara, aims to raise awareness of their plight. With music from the fantastic St Bride's choir, and readings from the work of English PEN's imprisoned and persecuted Honorary Members performed by actors Henry Goodman, Jasper Britton, Claire Price and Sarah Smart, it promises to be another moving evening at the spiritual home of printing and the media.


For more information please contact Cat Lucas via cat@englishpen.org or on 020 7324 2535.

The Art of Rhetoric

Monday 16 November, 7pm

Venue: Kings Place, 90 York Way, London, N1 9AG

Tickets: £9.50 online £11.50 offline. To book, call 020 7520 1490 or visit www.kingsplace.co.uk

We are delighted to announce that Geoffrey Robertson QC will be joining our very distinguished panel for The Art of Rhetoric on Monday 16 November. In the year since Barack Obama was elected President of the United States, the visionary language which he used to inspire a nation has come under intense pressure. Does Obama's mastery of rhetoric conceal a lack of substance? Or are we too cynical about political language in the UK? Historian and broadcaster Simon Schama, writer and commentator Polly Toynbee and renowned orator Tony Benn discuss the uses and abuses of language by politicians on both sides of the Atlantic, chaired by Lisa Appignanesi. Do join us for what promises to be a very lively and informed debate.

William Shawcross

Wednesday 18 November, 12.15pm for 12.45pm. £25 includes pre lunch drink, lunch with wine.

Venue: The Savile Club, 69 Brook Street, Mayfair, London, W1K 4ER.

To book please call 020 7629 5462 and quote ‘PEN Member Offer’.

Finally, English PEN members are cordially invited to join with members of the Savile Club in welcoming William Shawcross as a lunchtime speaker. Shawcross will speak about his recent biography of Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother, his career as a writer and his commitment to freedom of expression. For more information please email Patrizia Cox on admin@savileclub.co.uk .

This November will see three very special English PEN events, including a unique screening of Michael Frayn’s 1974 documentary about Berlin followed by a discussion between Michael Frayn, Ian McEwan and Dennis Marks; a debate about the politics of language and the language of politics with Tony Benn, Polly Toynbee and Simon Schama, and the annual St Bride’s Service in honour of imprisoned writers everywhere.

------------------x-----------------

Imagine a City Called Berlin

Tuesday 3 November, 6.30pm

The Free Word Centre, 60 Farringdon Road , London EC1R 3GA

£8/£5 members

To commemorate the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, English PEN hosts a special screening of a classic documentary written and presented by Michael Frayn. Made in 1974, the film explores the fragments of a city frozen in time by the building of the Wall. After the screening, there will be a discussion between Michael Frayn, the film's director Dennis Marks and Ian McEwan about the continuing fascination of Berlin past and present.

For tickets, call 020 7324 2535 or
book online.

Please note that English PEN will not be sending out paper tickets for this event. Names of guests will be held on a list at the door.

St Bride’s Service

Sunday 15 November, 6.30pm

St Bride’s Church, Bride Lane , Fleet Street , London EC4

Free admission

To mark the Day of the Imprisoned Writer, the Writers in Prison Committee will be holding our annual service at St Bride's Church, Fleet Street. The service, led by Canon David Meara, aims to raise awareness of the plight of persecuted and imprisoned writers around the world.

With music from the fantastic St Bride's choir and readings from the work of imprisoned and persecuted writers read by actors Henry Goodman, Jasper Britton and Sarah Smart, it promises to be another moving evening at St Bride’s, the spiritual home of printing and the media.

Admission to this event is free. All welcome. Refreshments will be available after the service.

The Art of Rhetoric

Monday 16 November, 7pm

Kings Place, 90 York Way , London , N1 9AG

£11.50/£9.50 online

In association with King's Place.

In the year since Barack Obama was elected President of the United States , the visionary language which he used to inspire a nation has come under intense pressure. Does Obama's mastery of rhetoric conceal a lack of substance? Or are we too cynical about political language in the UK ? Historian and broadcaster Simon Schama, writer and commentator Polly Toynbee and renowned orator Tony Benn discuss the uses and abuses of language by politicians on both sides of the Atlantic , in a discussion chaired by Lisa Appignanesi.

To book, call 020 7520 1490 or visit
www.kingsplace.co.uk.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

China: Internet writer and activist sentenced

Source: http://www.englishpen.org/writersinprison/bulletins/chinainternetwriterandactivistsentenced/

China: Internet writer and activist sentenced

Published: November 2, 2009

English PEN strongly protests the ten year prison sentence handed down to dissident writer and activist Guo Quan, for 'subversion of state power'. We consider Guo Quan's conviction to be in violation of his right to expression as guaranteed by Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which China is a signatory, and are therefore calling for his immediate and unconditional release.

According to our information, on 16 October 2009 a court in Jiangsu province sentenced Guo Quan to ten years in prison and three years of deprivation of political rights for his pro-democracy activities and critical writings. He was arrested at his home in Nanjing, capital of Jiangsu province, on 13 November 2008 and charged with 'subversion' on 18 December 2008. According to the court verdict translated into English by Dui Hua, Guo was charged for a series of articles entitled 'Herald of Democracy' posted online between mid-2007 and November 2008, and for founding the opposition China New Democracy Party (CNDP). Guo, aged 41, is a former criminal-court judge and literature professor at Nanjing Normal University who according to Dui Hua 'became renowned online for his anti-Japanese nationalism, criticism of China's one-party political system, and support for "rights defenders" seeking redress for various forms of social injustice'. He wrote several open letters to Chinese leaders and was frequently briefly detained by police, most recently in May 2008 when he spent ten days in prison after criticising the government's response to the 12 May 2008 Sichuan earthquake. He was banned from teaching as a result of his political activities.


Please send appeals:

- Protesting the sentence imposed on Internet writer and activist Guo Quan;
- Calling for his immediate and unconditional release in accordance with Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which China is a signatory.


Send appeals to:

His Excellency Hu Jintao
President of the People's Republic of China
State Council
Beijing 100032
P.R. China

Please note that there are no fax numbers for the Chinese authorities. We therefore recommend that you copy your appeal to the Chinese embassy in your country asking them to forward it and welcoming any comments:

Her Excellency Mrs Fu Ying
Embassy of the People's Republic of China
49-51 Portland Place
London
W1B 1JL

Crime reporter abducted and murdered in Mexico

MEXICO: Crime reporter abducted and murdered


4 November 2009

source : http://www.internationalpen.org.uk/go/news/mexico-crime-reporter-abducted-and-murdered

The Writers in Prison Committee of International PEN (WiPC) is shocked and saddened by the murder of Mexican journalist José Bladimir Antuna García of El Tiempo de Durango, who was abducted and killed in Durango, Durango State, on 2 November 2009. Antuna, who had been receiving death threats since late 2008, is the third print journalist to be killed in Durango State since May this year. The WiPC calls on the federal and state authorities to investigate the killing, along with all other unsolved journalist murders, as a matter of the utmost urgency, and to bring the culprits to justice. It also calls for the implementation of effective journalist protection programmes.

José Bladimir Antuna García, crime and security affairs reporter for the newspaper El Tiempo de Durango, was found dead in front of a hospital in Durango, capital of Durango State, on the evening of 2 November 2009, after being abducted while on his way to work earlier that day. He was found to have died of "asphyxia from strangulation", but according to some reports his body also bore bullet wounds to the head and abdomen. A note was found next to his body which reportedly stated: "This happened to me for giving information to soldiers and for writing too much." In the week before his death, Antuna (39) had reportedly broken a story about police corruption in Durango and had also been investigating the unsolved murder of another El Tiempo de Durango journalist, Carlos Ortega Samper, who was similarly abducted and killed in May 2009.

Antuna had been receiving repeated death threats since late 2008 and was the target of an apparent assassination attempt on 28 April 2009. Despite reporting the latter to the Durango State Public Prosecutor's Office (Procuraduría General de Justicia del Estado de Durango), Antuna was not provided with any protection and continued to receive threats. On 26 May - the same day that another Durango-based journalist, Eliseo Barrón Hernández, was found dead after having been kidnapped from his home - an anonymous call was reportedly made to the El Tiempo offices saying that Antuna would be next. Antuna had reportedly exchanged information about police corruption and organised crime with Barrón on several occasions. He had previously received numerous threats on his mobile phone and on his work telephone warning him not to publish "delicate" information. The caller sometimes identified himself as a member of Los Zetas, a paramilitary group reportedly linked to the Gulf drug cartel. One of the calls was apparently made from inside the Gómez Palacio penitentiary in Durango.

Background

Mexico is one of the most dangerous countries in the world to work as a journalist. From January 2004 to November 2009, a total 26 writers - 25 print journalists and one author - have been murdered, six of them this year alone. Four more print journalists have disappeared in the same period. Few if any of these crimes have been properly investigated or punished. International PEN believes that it is likely that these journalists were targeted in retaliation for their critical reporting, particularly on drug trafficking. While organised crime groups are responsible for many attacks, state agents, especially government officials and the police, are reportedly the main perpetrators of violence against journalists, and complicit in its continuance. For more information, click here.

Useful links


Please send appeals:

  • Protesting the murder of El Tiempo de Durango crime reporter José Bladimir Antuna García in Durango, capital of Durango State, on 2 November 2009;
  • Calling for a full, prompt and impartial investigation into his killing and all other unsolved murders of journalists in Mexico;
  • Calling on the government of President Felipe Calderón to fulfil promises to make crimes against journalists a federal offence, specifically by amending the Constitution so that federal authorities have the power to investigate, prosecute and punish such crimes.
  • Calling on the federal authorities to set up protection programmes for journalist to ensure their safety

Appeals to:

President

Lic. Felipe De Jesús Calderón Hinojosa

Presidente de los Estados Unidos Mexicanos

Residencia Oficial de los Pinos Casa Miguel Alemán

Col. San Miguel Chapultepec, C.P. 11850, DISTRITO FEDERAL, México

Fax: (+ 52 55) 5093 4901/ 5277 2376

Email: felipe.calderon@presidencia.gob.mx

Salutation: Señor Presidente/ Dear Mr President

Attorney General

Lic. Arturo Chávez Chávez
Procurador General de la República

Av. Paseo de Reforma No. 211-213, Piso 16

Col. Cuauhtémoc, Defegacion Cuauhtémoc

México D.F. C.P. 06500

Tel: + 52 55 5346 0108
Fax: + 52 55 53 46 0908 (if a voice answers, ask "tono de fax, por favor")

E-mail: ofproc@pgr.gob.mx

Salutation: Señor Procurador General/Dear Attorney General

Please also send copies of your appeals to the Mexican Embassy in your country.

See http://www.sre.gob.mx/acerca/directorio/embajadas/dirembajadas.htm

***Please send appeals immediately. Check with International PEN if sending appeals after 3 January 2010.***


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