Monday, September 19, 2011

Week of Action for Dawit Isaak


PEN CALLS FOR A WEEK OF ACTION (19-23 September 2011)

All this week, 19-23 September 2011, PEN members around the world will be taking part in a week of action for to protest the decade-long imprisonment of Eritrean-Swedish journalist and author Dawit Isaak who has been detained incommunicado without charge since 23 September 2001. Dawit is said to be held in appalling conditions and to be in poor physical and mental health; there are serious concerns for his wellbeing. We will be calling on the Eritrean authorities to provide details of his whereabouts and assurances that he is receiving all necessary medical treatment as a matter of urgency. We will also be calling for his immediate and unconditional release as well as that of the many other Eritreans imprisoned for their writings since September 2001. For more information on how to get involved, please see below.
 

Dawit Isaak (born 1964), owner of the now defunct weekly newspaper Setit, playwright and writer, was arrested on 23 September 2001 during the crackdown on Eritrea's private press that saw all eight independent newspapers closed down. He is one of nine print journalists who were arrested at the time and to be held incommunicado, apparently indefinitely, without ever being charged or tried. The only accusations made against them have been uncorroborated allegations by the authorities that the journalists were "traitors".

Information about the detained journalists is scant. However, at least four of them have reportedly died in custody since 2005 due to harsh conditions and lack of medical attention. There have also been unconfirmed reports of the deaths of nine out of 11 former government cabinet ministers also arrested in September 2001 for publishing a letter criticising the Eritrean government.

Dawit Isaak and the other surviving journalists are presumed to remain in detention in secret locations, despite a 2007 ruling by the African Union's Commission on Human and People's Rights that their detention was arbitrary and unlawful and that the Eritrean government should release and compensate them. There are ongoing concerns about severe ill treatment, possible torture, poor health and lack of access to medical care.

The most recent reports indicate that Dawit is being held at the Eiraeiro maximum-security prison camp, 10 miles north of the capital Asmara , along with a number of the other detained journalists. They are reportedly not allowed any contact with each other or the outside world, are routinely shackled and receive almost no medical care. Some are said to be held in metal containers or underground cells in temperatures of around 50 degrees Celsius.

Dawit suffers from a diabetic condition that requires medical supervision and he is said to be in poor psychological health. He has been hospitalised several times since his imprisonment, including in 2002 for treatment for injuries sustained through torture. In November 2005, Dawit, who holds dual Eritrean Swedish citizenship, was briefly released for a medical check-up and to call his family and friends following pressure by groups in Sweden .

In July 2011, Dawit's younger brother, Esayas Isaak, who lives in Sweden , filed a writ of habeas corpus with Eritrea 's Supreme Court calling for information on the journalist's location and a review of his imprisonment. The habeas corpus writ was reportedly not supported by the Swedish government; according to the Committee to Protect Journalists, Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt has said the country's goal was to have Dawit released on humanitarian grounds rather than stand trial. In 2010, Esayas Isaak wrote an open letter to the Swedish government and European Union expressing concern that they were not doing enough to pressurize the Eritrean government to release Dawit.

Background

- Dawit Isaak is an Honorary Member of Finnish PEN and Swedish PEN.
- He was awarded the 2009 Tucholsky Award by Swedish PEN and the 2011 Golden Pen of Freedom, the annual press freedom prize of the World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers (WAN-IFRA).
- A collection of his writings, entitled Hope- the Tale of Moses and Manna's Love, was launched at Sweden 's Gothenburg book fair in September 2010.

Useful links


Information on Isaak:

- Update from the Committee to Protest Journalists (3 August 2011)
- Update from Canadian Journalists for Free Expression (24 May 2011)
- Free Dawit campaign (co-founded by Esayas Isaak) (Click here)
- PEN International profile (Click here)

Information on Eritrea:

- Eritrea has now been the lowest ranking of all the countries included in RSF's annual Press Freedom Index for four consecutive years (Click here)
- BBC country profile (Click here)
- Amnesty International's 2011 report on human rights in Eritrea (Click here)

Suggested actions:

We are asking all of our members to do at least one of the following during the week leading up to the 10th anniversary of Dawit Isaak's imprisonment (19-23 September 2011):

1. Send protest letters (NB a sample letter follows):

- Protesting the 10-year imprisonment of Dawit Isaak, at least four journalists and 11 former cabinet members detained incommunicado since September 2001;
- Calling on the Eritrean authorities to release details of his health status, medical treatment and whereabouts, as well as that of the other detainees; 
- Calling for the immediate and unconditional release of Isaac and the other surviving journalists, in line with the 2007 African Commission on Human and People's Rights ruling, as well as that of the former ministers detained for their writings.

Appeals to:

His Excellency Mr. Tesfamicael Gerahtu Ogbaghiorghis
Embassy of the State of Eritrea
96 White Lion Street ,
London
N1 9PF
Fax: 020 7713 0096
Email: tesfamicaelg@eriembauk.com

President Isaias Afewerki
c/o Embassy of the State of Eritrea
96 White Lion Street,
London
N1 9PF
Fax: 020 7713 0096
Email: tesfamicaelg@eriembauk.com

2. Write to the British Embassy in Eritrea , asking the Ambassador to raise concerns about Isaak and the other detainees.

Mrs. Sandra Tyler-Haywood
British Embassy
66-68 Mariam Ghimbi Street
Zip Code 174
PO Box 5584
Asmara
Eritrea

3.  For Facebook users: Change your profile picture
.

For those of you on Facebook, please change your profile picture to one of Dawit Isaak for the duration of the week of action (19-23 September 2011).

4. For Twitter users: Tweet #freedawitisaak


Please tweet regularly, and particularly on Fridays, using the hashtag #freedawitisaak and including links to more information on his case.

***Please keep the English PEN office informed of your activities and any response you receive from the authorities by emailing cat@englishpen.org ***

SAMPLE LETTERS

Please do write more personal letters if you have time; the following are just examples.

His Excellency Mr. Tesfamicael Gerahtu Ogbaghiorghis
Embassy of the State of Eritrea
96 White Lion Street,
London
N1 9PF

[DATE]

Your Excellency,

I am writing to you as a member of English PEN, the founding centre of the worldwide association of writers, to protest the decade-long imprisonment of my fellow writer Dawit Isaak and a number of other writers detained in Eritrea in violation of their right to free expression. According to PEN's information, there are at least a further four journalists and 11 former cabinet members all of whom have been detained since September 2001.

Eritrean-Swedish journalist and author Dawit Isaak has been detained incommunicado without charge since 23 September 2001. He is said to be held in appalling conditions and to be in poor physical and mental health; there are serious concerns for his wellbeing.

I call upon the Eritrean authorities to release Dawit Isaak and all those detained in Eritrea in violation of their right to free expression immediately and unconditionally, in line with the 2007 African Commission on Human and People's Rights ruling that their detention was arbitrary and unlawful and that they should be released and receive compensation.

In the meantime, I strongly urge Your Excellency to ensure that details of the health status, medical treatment and whereabouts of Dawit Isaak and the other detained writers are released as a matter of urgency.

I would be most grateful if you would forward the enclosed letter of appeal to His Excellency President Isaias Afewerki and would welcome your comments on my appeal.

Yours sincerely,

[NAME, OCCUPATION, ADDRESS]

*

President Isaias Afewerki
c/o Embassy of the State of Eritrea
96 White Lion Street,
London
N1 9PF

[DATE]

Your Excellency,

I am writing to you as a member of English PEN, the founding centre of the worldwide association of writers, to protest the decade-long imprisonment of my fellow writer Dawit Isaak and a number of other writers detained in Eritrea in violation of their right to free expression. According to PEN's information, there are at least a further four journalists and 11 former cabinet members all of whom have been detained since September 2001.

Eritrean-Swedish journalist and author Dawit Isaak has been detained incommunicado without charge since 23 September 2001. He is said to be held in appalling conditions and to be in poor physical and mental health; there are serious concerns for his wellbeing.

I call upon the Eritrean authorities to release Dawit Isaak and all those detained in Eritrea in violation of their right to free expression immediately and unconditionally, in line with the 2007 African Commission on Human and People's Rights ruling that their detention was arbitrary and unlawful and that they should be released and receive compensation.

In the meantime, I strongly urge Your Excellency to ensure that details of the health status, medical treatment and whereabouts of Dawit Isaak and the other detained writers are released as a matter of urgency.

I would welcome your comments on my appeal.

Yours sincerely,

[NAME, OCCUPATION, ADDRESS]

*

Her Excellency Mrs. Sandra Tyler-Haywood
British Embassy
66-68 Mariam Ghimbi Street
Zip Code 174
PO Box 5584
Asmara
Eritrea

[DATE]

Your Excellency,

I am writing to you as a member of English PEN, the founding centre of the worldwide association of writers, to protest the decade-long imprisonment of my fellow writer Dawit Isaak, and a number of other writers detained in Eritrea in violation of their right to free expression. According to PEN's information, there are at least a further four journalists and 11 former cabinet members all of whom have been detained since September 2001.

Eritrean-Swedish journalist and author Dawit Isaak has been detained incommunicado without charge since 23 September 2001. He is said to be held in appalling conditions and to be in poor physical and mental health; there are serious concerns for his wellbeing.

I have written to the Eritrean authorities urging them to release Dawit Isaak and all those detained in Eritrea in violation of their right to free expression immediately and unconditionally, in line with the 2007 African Commission on Human and People's Rights ruling that their detention was arbitrary and unlawful and that the Eritrean government should release and compensate them. I have urged the authorities to ensure that details of the health status, medical treatment and whereabouts of Dawit Isaak and the other detained writers are released as a matter of urgency.

I would be most grateful if, as the diplomatic representative for the UK , you would consider raising my concerns about Dawit Isaak and the other detainees with the relevant authorities in the Eritrea .  

I would welcome your comments on my appeal.

Yours sincerely,

[NAME, OCCUPATION, ADDRESS]

Friday, September 16, 2011

John Ralston' speech and Photos from PEN International’s 77th annual Congress in Belgrade

:
Photo courtesy and credit :Antonio G. Della Rocca and Facebook

John Ralston Saul delivers the Opening Speech at the 77th PEN International Congress in Belgrade



Discussions, 13th sept
Audience, Saul's book promotion
Brainstorming, 13th Sept
 Chatting, 13th Sept

John Ralston Saul delivers the Opening Speech at the 77th PEN International Congress in Belgrade

Thank you Serbian PEN! Thank you Vida and thank you to all of your members. You have organized a wonderful Congress. People who attend have no idea how much work is involved and how many hours are taken up that could have been used for writing. So, a very personal thank you from all of us who have come from other countries.
......
....
Yesterday, I was asked - quite rightly - what difference does it make that writers from 89 PEN centres are gathered in Belgrade. It is the right question.

The first answer is that this Congress is a public expression of reconciliation. Of course, writers in the Balkans have never stopped talking to each other. But, this Congress is a formal evocation of the imagination of the Balkans.

Today, the leaders of 10 Balkan PEN centres sat together on a stage and created the Balkans PEN International Network. The founding members are Bosnian PEN, Bulgarian, Croatian, Kosovar, Macedonian, Montenegrin, Romanian, Serbian, Slovenian and Turkish. This is an historic event. It is a message to the world.

Second, the gathering of hundreds of writers from around the world matters because it is a force for imagination and transparency. Our charter is clear. We believe in unlimited freedom of expression. But we also believe that no matter how controversial or difficult our words are, the ultimate purpose is to bring people together. The great Serbian Canadian writer, David Albahari, has rightly written that “knowledge can never catch up with the power of ignorance”. This is true. But the imagination can catch up. Imagination can leap over ignorance. Let me give you an example: When a virtually unknown radio journalist is killed in Mexico – the most dangerous place in the world today to be a writer – they leave, in Ivo Andrić’s words, “a memory clearer and more lasting than that of so many other more important victims”.

This year our former President, Mario Vargas Llosa, won the Nobel Prize for literature. And the founding president of our Independent Chinese PEN Centre, Liu Xiaobo, won the Nobel Peace Prize. Two men of courage. Two masters of the imagination. One of whom remains unjustly in prison. And several of our centres were central to what is called the Arab Spring. In some cases they are now a key part of the rebuilding civil society in their country.

The core of what we do is this: imagination and the transparency that imagination creates, and the acceptance of complexity – all of this is above politics and below politics. It’s everything except politics. In a society without this democracy of the mind it becomes possible for lies to install themselves, as if they were language. And as Danilo Kiš put it, “when everyone lies, no one lies”.

We are in the business of open memories, memories that do not oppose people, one against the other. We represent an open idea of how people can live together.

This is the 77th Congress. The Congress in 1933 in Dubrovnik was organized by this Centre. It was a complex, but historic moment for PEN. We were faced by the rising forces of authoritarianism, even within our own centres. The divisions of European society had become the divisions of PEN. Our President, a great writer, H. G. Wells, but also an anti-Semite with confused public views, found himself caught in an atmosphere of impossible divisions. But, complex thought it was, Wells and the delegates found their way through in order to stand with the imagination and transparency and therefore against authoritarianism.

In 1933 we found an ethical shape - long before governments took a stand. And at every PEN Congress since 1933, those ethical standards stand before us as the measure of what we do. I like to think that in leading with wisdom in Dubrovnik, Wells found his own way to a personal understanding of PEN’s ethics. It was a noble moment for him and for PEN.

There are always those who believe that writers can be dragged away from their independence in the public place. And I believe that the next few years will be difficult. There are many strong and negative forces at work. But the meaning of PEN is simple. Our central ethical force is the independence of our imagination and our creativity. And we know what this means because for 90 years we have defended that independence.

Hvala!

PEN International Assembly approves the Girona Manifesto and calls for protection and promotion of linguistic diversity.



PRESS RELEASE-----------------------------------

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
15th September 2011

PEN International Assembly approves the Girona Manifesto and calls for protection and promotion of linguistic diversity.

Today at PEN International’s 77th annual Congress the PEN General Assembly approved the Girona Manifesto which calls for the protection and promotion of linguistic diversity.  This Manifesto developed by PEN’s Translation and Linguistic Rights Committee is a significant step toward protecting and promoting all world languages, including those in danger of disappearing.

John Ralston Saul, International President of PEN said, “Many languages are in danger. Many are actually disappearing. The loss of one's language, and through that loss much of one's culture, can be seen as the ultimate removal of freedom of expression“.

The Girona Manifesto is a ten point document designed to be translated and disseminated widely as a tool to defend linguistic diversity around the world.

Josep Maria Terricabras, Chair of the Translations and Linguistic Rights Committee of PEN International said, “Language defines us.  To lose one’s language is to lose one’s voice, identity and spirit.  Languages are the homes we live in“

---------------------------------------------------
14th September 2011
Hundreds of writers, editors, translators and publishers from across the globe celebrate the achievement of 2010 Nobel Prizes by Mario Vargas Llosa and Liu Xiaobo and call for the release of Xiaobo and his wife.
At PEN International's 77th annual Congress in Belgrade today, delegates from over 80 PEN Centres worldwide unanimously passed a motion to congratulate Mario Vargas Llosa, former PEN International President and 2010 Nobel Laureate for Literature, and Liu Xiaobo, founding president of the Independent Chinese PEN Centre and 2010 Nobel Laureate for Peace. John Ralston Saul, PEN International President, said: "we follow the model of writers like Mario Vargas Llosa and Liu Xiaobo. They are illustrations of PEN International's indivisible commitment to both literature and freedom of speech."
PEN members also took the opportunity to use their collective voice and call on the Chinese authorities: "We seize on this historic moment to call for the release from prison of Liu Xiaobo and the release from house arrest of this wife, Liu Xia."
Liu Xiaobo, the prominent Chinese dissident writer who was sentenced to 11 years in prison in December 2009, was the founder and first president of the Independent Chinese PEN Centre. He has since been made honorary member of nine PEN Centres. Xiaobo was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in absentia in 2010. Marian Botsford Fraser, Chair of the Writers in Prison PEN Committee, attended the award ceremony. "Members of the PEN community were honoured to attend the Nobel Peace Prize ceremony in Oslo last December," said Botsford Fraser. "But not a single member of Liu's family or anyone from mainland China was allowed to attend, and the award was laid upon an empty chair. The PEN community will continue to fight for the unconditional release of our colleague, Liu Xiaobo."

-----------------------------------------------------


Notes to editors:

PEN International celebrates literature and promotes freedom of expression. Founded in 1921, our global community of writers now comprises 144 Centres spanning more than 100 countries. Our programmes, campaigns, events and publications connect writers and readers for global solidarity and cooperation. PEN International is a non-political organization and holds consultative status at the United Nations and UNESCO.

For more information and to request interviews please contact our press office:
penoffice@pen-international | press@pen-international.org | + 44 (0) 20 7405 0338.

Or contact our Executive Director Laura McVeigh: +44 (0)7824640527 www.pen-international.org

GIRONA MANIFESTO ON LINGUISTIC RIGHTS



The Girona Manifesto - A letter from John Ralston Saul to the membership about The Girona Manifesto


Exactly 15 years ago the same Committee led a coalition of civil society and international organizations in the production of the Universal Declaration of Linguistic Rights. This large and complex document was approved by PEN's annual Assembly of Delegates and has gone on to play an important role in specialist circles around the world. What has been missing is a short, clear Manifesto laying out the Declaration's essential arguments in a way that can be made use of by everyone.
The Girona Manifesto is precisely that. On one page containing ten points and written in a language which is both literary and practical, this Manifesto creates a tool we can all use.
Of course, our Assembly in Belgrade will be asked to approve it. But I thought it important to lay out the context in which this Manifesto can be read.
We are all concerned about pressures being put on languages with a smaller population base. We are concerned about the lack of translation from these languages and the difficulty they have making themselves heard in the world. Many languages are in danger. Many are actually disappearing. The loss of one's language, and through that loss much of one's culture, can be seen as the ultimate removal of freedom of expression.
The Translation and Linguistic Rights Committee began working on this Manifesto in our three official languages after its 2010 meeting.
At its 2011 meeting, in which both Hori Takeaki and myself took part, everyone present spent much of their time debating this short text in three languages. The result was The Girona Manifesto, which was unanimously adopted.
This Manifesto could give us a clear public document with which to defend and advance languages with smaller populations, as well, as endangered languages.
I encourage all of you to read it, to translate it into your own languages before Belgrade, and to think about how we could best use it to advance the multiplicity of languages and cultures that PEN International represents.
Sincerely,
John Ralston Saul


GIRONA MANIFESTO ON LINGUISTIC RIGHTS


PEN International brings together the writers of the world.

Fifteen years ago, the Universal Declaration of Linguistic Rights was first made public in Barcelona by PEN International’s Translation and Linguistic Rights Committee.

Today, that same Committee, gathered together in Girona, declares a Manifesto of the Universal Declaration’s ten central principles.


1. Linguistic diversity is a world heritage that must be valued and protected.

2. Respect for all languages and cultures is fundamental to the process of constructing and maintaining dialogue and peace in the world.

3. All individuals learn to speak in the heart of a community that gives them life, language, culture and identity.

4. Different languages and different ways of speaking are not only means of communication; they are also the milieu in which humans grow and cultures are built.

5. Every linguistic community has the right for its language to be used as an official language in its territory.

6. School instruction must contribute to the prestige of the language spoken by the linguistic community of the territory.

7. It is desirable for citizens to have a general knowledge of various languages, because it favours empathy and intellectual openness, and contributes to a deeper knowledge of one’s own tongue.

8. The translation of texts, especially the great works of various cultures, represents a very important element in the necessary process of greater understanding and respect among human beings.

9. The media is a privileged loudspeaker for making linguistic diversity work and for competently and rigorously increasing its prestige.

10. The right to use and protect one’s own language must be recognized by the United Nations as one of the fundamental human rights.


Committee of Translation and Linguistic Rights of PEN International

Girona, 13th of May 2011

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

English PEN: Updates on Cameroonian playwright Lydia Besong and Sudanese journalists





English PEN: Updates on Cameroonian playwright Lydia Besong and Sudanese journalists


 Dear Reader,


We wrote to you last week asking you to take urgent action on behalf of Cameroonian playwright Lydia Besong and her husband Bernard Batey who was due to be deported from the UK on Saturday evening.
 
Thanks to the overwhelming support from members of English PEN and the other campaigning groups we have been working with on their case, we are relieved to report that Bernard received a call from his lawyer on Friday evening stating that the injunction had been successful and the flight had been cancelled.
 
However, according to our most recent information, Bernard is still being detained in Colnbrook, whilst Lydia has gone into hiding to avoid the same fate. We are still awaiting legal clarification as to their situation, but in the meantime will continue to pressure the relevant authorities here in the UK to ensure that he is not deported.
 
TAKE ACTION:
 
For those of you that have already written to Theresa May and Nick Clegg, we would be grateful if you could send copies of your appeal to Lydia and Bernard's MP, David Nuttall MP via nuttallburynorth@aol.com and david.nuttall.mp@parliament.uk.
 
Many thanks for your support. It is much needed, much-appreciated and really does make a difference.
 
***************************************************************************************
 
We are also pleased to let you all know that Sudanese journalists Abu Zar Al-Amin and Jaafar Alsabki Ibrahim, on behalf of whom many of you sent urgent appeals back in July, were released from prison on 22 and 28 August 2011 respectively. Both men had been detained on anti-state charges since 2010. Ibrahim has reportedly been pardoned, whilst Al-Amin was released on bail.
 
However, according to our information, in the case of Al-Amin further anti-state charges were introduced shortly before he completed his prison sentenced, for which he could still face the death penalty. As such, we are calling on the authorities to drop all remaining charges against him and urge you to do the same. Guidelines, addresses, and a sample letter follow.
 
Abu Zar Al-Amin, deputy editor of the opposition daily newspaper Rai Al-Shaab, was released on bail on 22 August 2011 after spending over 15 months in prison. Arrested in May 2010, he was sentenced to five years' imprisonment on 15 July 2010 for allegedly 'undermining the constitutional system' and 'publishing false information'. The case reportedly stemmed from an article alleging that Iran had built a weapons factory in Sudan to supply insurgents in Africa and the Middle East . The sentence was reduced to a one year sentence on appeal, with the journalist due to be released on 3 July 2011. However, Al-Amin's release was delayed indefinitely after he was subsequently accused of attacking a security official. Al-Amin says that he was subjected to torture by the officer in question during his pre-trial detention in May 2010; however the authorities have failed to investigate these claims.

Jaafar Alsabki Ibrahim, Darfuri journalist with the opposition newspaper Al-Sahafa, was released on 28 August 2011 after almost 10 months in detention. Arrested on 3 November 2010, he was held incommunicado until June 2011 when he was finally charged with 'undermining the constitutional system'. His release followed an announcement by President Omar Al-Bashir on 27 August 2011 that he intended to free all journalists imprisoned in Sudan after local journalists requested pardons for their colleagues to coincide with the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. The charges against Ibrahim are presumed to have been dropped.

For more information, please see http://www.englishpen.org/writersinprison/wipcnews/sudantwojournalistsreleasedonestillfacesdeathpenalty/
 
TAKE ACTION

Please send appeals (NB. A sample letter follows):

- Welcoming the release of Rai Al-Shaab deputy editor Abu Zar Al-Amin and Al-Sahafa journalist Jaafar Alsabki Ibrahim on 22 and 28 August 2011 respectively;
- Expressing concern that Al-Amin, who was released on bail, still faces the death penalty if convicted on new charges introduced shortly before he completed his prison sentence;
- Calling on the Sudanese authorities to drop all remaining charges against Al-Amin;
- Calling on President Omar Al-Bashir to fulfil his recent promise to release all journalists detained in Sudan.

Appeals to:


HE President Omar Al Bashir
Office of the President
People's Palace
PO Box 281
Khartoum, Sudan
Fax: 249 183 782 541/ 249 183 774339
Salutation: Your Excellency

Minister of Justice
Mr Mohammed Bushara Dousa
Ministry of Justice, PO Box 302
Al Nil Avenue
Khartoum, Sudan
Fax: 249 183 764 168
Salutation: Your Excellency

And copies to:

Mohamed Atta Al-Moula Abbas
Director of the NISS
NISS Headquarters
Khartoum
Salutation: Dear Director Abbas

Please also send copies of your appeal letters to the diplomatic representative for Sudan in your country if possible.

His Excellency Mr Abdullahi Hamad Ali Alazreg
Embassy of the Republic of the Sudan
3 Cleveland Row
London
SW1A 1DD
Fax: 020 7839 7560
Email: mtsudanembassy@yahoo.co.uk

NB. Please do let us know if you send appeals, and certainly if you receive a response by emailing cat@englishpen.org

SAMPLE LETTER

Please do write a more personal letter if you have time - the following is just an example:

His Excellency Mr Abdullahi Hamad Ali Alazreg
Embassy of the Republic of the Sudan
3 Cleveland Row
London
SW1A 1DD
Fax: 020 7839 7560
Email: mtsudanembassy@yahoo.co.uk
[DATE]

Your Excellency,

I am writing to you as a member of English PEN, the founding centre of the international association of writers, to welcome the release of Rai Al-Shaab deputy editor Abu Zar Al-Amin and Al-Sahafa journalist Jaafar Alsabki Ibrahim. However, I remain deeply concerned for Abu Zar Al-Amin who could still face the death penalty if convicted of further anti-state charges.

According to PEN's information, Abu Zar Al-Aminwas released on bail on 22 August 2011 after spending over 15 months in prison. Arrested in May 2010, Al-Amin was sentenced to five years' imprisonment on 15 July 2010 for allegedly 'undermining the constitutional system' and 'publishing false information', but the sentence was reduced to a one year sentence on appeal. I understand that Abu Zar Al-Amin is now facing further anti-state charges relating to articles written for Rai al-Shaab prior to his imprisonment and that he would face the death penalty if convicted. I am therefore writing to respectfully urge the Sudanese authorities to drop all remaining charges against him. 

Journalist for the opposition newspaper Al-Sahafa Jaafar Alsabki Ibrahim was also released in August 2011, after almost 10 months in detention. Arrested on 3 November 2010, he was held incommunicado until June 2011 when he was finally charged with 'undermining the constitutional system'. The charges against Ibrahim are presumed to have been dropped.

Jaafar Alsabki Ibrahim's release followed an announcement by His Excellency President Omar Al-Bashir on 27 August 2011 that he intended to free all journalists imprisoned in Sudan . Whilst I welcome the release of Jaafar Alsabki Ibrahim, I would therefore like to take this opportunity to respectfully call upon President Omar Al-Bashir to fulfil this promise by releasing all journalists currently detained in Sudan immediately and unconditionally.

I would welcome your comments on my appeal.

Yours sincerely,

[NAME, PROFESSION, ADDRESS]





Earlier post on this topic click here

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Golden Pen of Freedom Award open for nominations


7 September 2011

Golden Pen of Freedom Award open for nominations


 
The World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers (WAN-IFRA) is inviting nominations for the 2012 Golden Pen of Freedom Award, the annual prize which honours an individual or group for outstanding action in the cause of press freedom. Hurry: the deadline for nominations is 16 September 2011.

Past laureates include Dawit Isaak, the Eritrean writer, poet and publisher currently jailed by Eritrean authorities; and Ahmad Zeid-Abadi, an Iranian journalist and political analyst who was imprisoned following Iran's disputed presidential election in June 2009.

Please send your nominations to Alison Meston at alison.meston (@) wan-ifra.org by 16 September 2011. Provide your name and contact details, plus the name of the nominee and a brief statement as to why you are nominating them.

For more information on the Golden Pen of Freedom, click here.
-----------------------------------------------------------

2011 WAN-IFRA Golden Pen of Freedom Awarded to Dawit Isaak

Article ID:

12081
A journalist with dual Eritrean-Swedish citizenship, Dawit Isaak is one of the founders of Eritrea’s first independent newspaper, Setit, and is currently one member of a group of reformist political prisoners who have been detained without charge or trial for the past nine years.
Dawit Isaak
Eritrean by birth, Mr Isaak was forced to flee his native country in 1987 and arrived in Sweden as a beleaguered refugee during Eritrea’s bloody war for liberation. He became a Swedish citizen in 1992 after working for years as a cleaner, and he later returned to Eritrea when the country finally gained independence in 1996. Eager to develop the country’s independent press, Mr Isaak co-founded the country’s first independent newspaper, Setit, which would rise to national prominence as a professional paper and gain a reputation for investigative reporting which often focused on abuse of power by the government.
In May of 2001, a group of 15 cabinet members (prominent reformist politicians later dubbed the G-15), published an open letter to the government demanding democratic reform, and a thorough investigation of the events leading up to Eritrea’s recurring war with Ethiopia. The letter was published by the free press, most notably by Mr Isaak’s paper, Setit, which also went on to publish a series of similar open letters to president Isayas Afeworki demanding sweeping democratic reforms. The government acted in swift retaliation following the published demands of G-15, and by September, had effectively suspended all civil liberties in Eritrea.
On 23 September, all private press outlets in the country were officially shut down, and 11 of the G-15 politicians were arrested, along with Dawit Isaak and 13 other newspaper owners, editors and journalists. To date, none have been formally charged or tried, and Mr Isaak and the other journalists and politicians imprisoned with him have all been branded as traitors, accused of receiving financial aid from abroad, an act of criminal treason according to Eritrean press laws. According to reports, four of the journalists that were detained in 2001 have since died in prison.
In 2001, Sweden’s then honorary consul in Eritrea, Lis Truelsen, managed to get a glimpse of Mr Isaak through the prison bars and exchange a few words with him. The government of Sweden and the Swedish media community have undertaken numerous efforts to advocate for Mr Isaak’s release, without any success, as the Eritrean government has made it clear that his status as a dual citizen of Sweden is of little consequence. This position was reflected in public statements made in May 2009 by the country’s president, and in which he announced: "To me, Sweden is irrelevant. The Swedish government has nothing to do with us."
On 13 December 2008, it was reported that Mr Isaak had been moved to a maximum-security prison in Embatkala, along with 112 other political prisoners. The move was allegedly by the explicit order of the President, and the Embatkala prison is reportedly one of the harshest prison environments in the country. Several weeks later, on 11 January 2009, reports surfaced that Mr Isaak had been transferred to a military hospital, and despite government assurances that he is receiving all necessary medical treatment, the details of his actual whereabouts remain sketchy.
A controversial Swedish interview with Eritrean president Issayas Afwerki drew the attention of human rights watchdog organisations when he declared unceremoniously that there were no plans to release Mr Isaak, nor to conduct a trial in which the journalist would be formally charged. The interview, which was broadcast on 26 May 2009, stirred international controversy when the Eritrean president dismissed the issue of Mr Isaak’s imprisonment altogether, stating without qualm: "We will not have any trial and we will not free him. We know how to handle his kind."
-------------------------------

About the Golden Pen of Freedom

Article ID:

13061
The Golden Pen of Freedom is an annual award made by WAN-IFRA to recognise the outstanding action, in writing or deed, of an individual, a group or an institution in the cause of press freedom.
Behind the names of the laureates lie stories of extraordinary personal courage and self-sacrifice, stories of jail, beatings, bombings, censorship, exile and murder.
One of the objectives of the Golden Pen is to turn the spotlight of public attention on repressive governments and journalists who fight them. Often, the laureate is still engaged in the struggle for freedom of expression and the Pen has, on several occasions, secured the release of a publisher or journalist from jail or afforded him or her a degree of protection against further persecution.

 

Join PEN American Center for an Evening with Liao Yiwu and at Brooklyn Book Festival‏


PEN Events



SAVE THE DATE
September 18:
Stop by the PEN booth [#93] at Brooklyn Book Festival

October 12:
PEN Literary Awards Ceremony

November 1:
PEN New Members/New Books Party


PEN and The New School Present: An Evening with Liao Yiwu


With Liao Yiwu, Wen Huang, Salman Rushdie, and Philip Gourevitch
When: Tuesday, September 13
Where: The New School, Tishman Auditorium, 66 W. 12th St.
What time: 8 p.m.

Tickets: $20/$15 for PEN Members and students with valid ID (free to New School Students with valid ID). Purchase tickets at ovationtix.com.

PEN American Center is honored to present poet, novelist, musician, and documentarian Liao Yiwu, one of China’s most exciting and most censored writers, in his first U.S. appearance in nearly two decades.

This very special evening of music and words will include a reading from his forthcoming book and a performance of the xiao, or Chinese flute, which Mr. Liao learned to play while incarcerated. PEN World Voices Festival founder and chair Salman Rushdie will introduce the event and Mr. Liao will be joined by his translator Wen Huang and journalist Philip Gourevitch for an on-stage interview. [More]



PEN Literary Pub Quiz at Brooklyn Book Festival

 

With team captains Christopher Beha of Harper’s, George Prochnik of Cabinet Magazine, James Yeh of Gigantic Magazine, Scott Lindenbaum and Andy Hunter of Electric Literature, translator Susan Bernofsky, Ben Greenman, Matthea Harvey, Amy Sohn, and more; hosted by Katie Halper.
When: Friday, September 16
Where: St. Ann’s Warehouse, 38 Water Street in Dumbo, Brooklyn
What time: 7-9 p.m.

Free and open to the public.

PEN is pleased to announce the return of our popular Literary Pub Quiz! This Brooklyn Book Festival Bookend event gives you the chance to compete with (and against!) editors and writers from your favorite literary magazines, including Cabinet, Gigantic, Harper’s, and Electric Literature, as well as authors Matthea Harvey, Ben Greenman, and many more. Come early to reserve your spot on the team with the writer-captain who also knows where Hemingway was born. We’ll supply the paper and the pencils; you bring the literary smarts!
Also look for PEN at the Brooklyn Book Festival on Sunday at Booth 93. [More]

 
PEN American Center | 588 Broadway, Suite 303 | NY, NY 10012 | (212) 334-1660

Mother language : UNESCO

Many things I do not know, I have to explore, Many times, due to lack of information I cant reach at the right place and at right time, so when I come across I think I should take action... and this is the way we all common people live.

Recently I have come across a wonderful information that is :

Mother language instruction “a powerful way to fight discrimination” says UNESCO Director-General 


©UNESCO

“We know how important education in the mother language is for learning outcomes,” declared Irina Bokova, Director-General of UNESCO, on the occasion of International Mother Language Day, 21 February 2011. “Mother language instruction is a powerful way to fight discrimination and reach out to marginalized populations.”

“Projects on Linguistic Diversity and New Technologies”, UNESCO’s IMLD information meeting, will feature debates on ICTs and bilingual education. Amidou Maïga and Papa Youga Dieng, programme leaders at Department of Education and Training Organisation internationale de la Francophonie will present, respectively, an overview of language teaching in multilingual contexts, notably the use of ICTs in the «School and national Language»  project (which aims to promote bilingual and multilingual education) and the use of ICTs in the Francophone Initiative on Distance Education for Teacher Training (IFADEM).
Celebrated annually since 2000, International Mother Language Day provides an occasion to recognize the vital importance of languages in education and to mobilize efforts in favour of multilingualism and linguistic diversity.
Links

  --------------------------o---------------------------------

Languages in Education

The preamble to UNESCO's Constitution in ten languages
©UNESCO/Roger Dominique
The preamble to UNESCO's Constitution in ten languages
UNESCO promotes mother tongue-based bilingual or multilingual approaches in education - an important factor for inclusion and qualilty in education. Research shows this has a positive impact on learning and learning outcomes.
The Organization provides normative frameworks for language policy and education and shares good practices in bilingual and multilingual education and mother tongue instruction.

News

 

Diversity :Translation & Linguistic Rights Committee of the International P.E.N.






Source : Linguistic Declaration

An old legend says that, a long time ago, there was a king that heard that in his country there lived a truly wise man. He was so wise, they said, that he could speak all the languages in the world. He knew the song of the birds and understood it as if he were one of them. He knew how to read the shape of the clouds and immediately understand their meaning. Any language he listened to, he could answer without hesitation. He could even read the thoughts of men and women wherever they came from. The king, impressed by all the qualities that were attributed to him, called him to his palace. And the wise man came.

When he was there, the king asked him:
"Wise man, is it true that you know all the languages of the world?"
"Yes, Sir," was the answer.
"Is it true that that you listen to the birds and you can understand their song?"
"Yes, Sir."
"That you know how to read the shape of the clouds?"
"Yes, Sir."
"And, as I have been told, that you can even read people's minds?"
"Yes, Sir."

The king still had a last question…

But, which question would we put to the wisest of all the wise men?

Which languages from all over the world are spoken by the authors of the Universal Declaration of Linguistic Rights? Countless, we would dare to say. In any case, from more than 90 states and 5 continents, more than 200 people gathered on June 6th, 1996, in Barcelona to proclaim the Declaration. Some represented small local NGOs committed to teaching a language not recognized by the official education system of their country. There were writers in many different languages who make use of their language everyday to create literary universes open to all. Other represented international NGOs whose mission is the defence of linguistic rights. Other were experts in law, in languages, in sociolinguistics and in various domains of knowledge which converge in the academic study of linguistic rights.
For all of them, the Universal Declaration of Linguistic Rights promises a future of coexistence and peace thanks to the recognition of the right that each linguistic community has to shape its own life in its own language in all fields. And so they proclaimed. Since then, the Universal Declaration of Linguistic Rights has spread: each month there is news about its translation into a new language, a new affiliation of some organization that might not have been associated to the process, or about an international personality who has decided to support the Declaration and with it the defence of all languages in an international context which threatens the survival of many of them.

That original text, written, amended, approved and proclaimed at a non-governmental level wants nevertheless to contribute to the work of the United Nations. It aims to be a strong motivation, an appeal to the states so that, in the dynamics started by the Declaration of Human Rights of 1948, they would recognize the linguistic rights of the individuals and of their communities. The association of UNESCO to our process from the very beginning and the work it has been doing along these lines gives us hope that some day a normative body of the United Nations regulating the defence of linguistic rights all over the world will be approved. This book wants to contribute to this work.

In this book the text of the Universal Declaration of Linguistic Rights appears and it is explained how it was written and proclaimed in the World Conference on Linguistic Rights. It is the work done by 61 NGOs, 41 PEN Club centres and over 40 experts in linguistic rights, coming from the five continents. The testimony of well-known personalities from all over the world also appears, as well as that of writers and people who fight for rights, for peace and who wanted to join us in this project.

We all, like that king in the fairy tale, may put the last question to that wise man who knew all the languages of the world. The king looked at him as if defying him, as if testing him, and asked him the final question:

"In my hands, which are hidden behind my back, there is a bird. Wise man, answer me: is it alive or dead?"

The answer of the wise man was addressed to everybody. In our case, to everybody who has any responsibility in promoting linguistic rights, from the militant to the writer, from the teacher to the legislator. For that wise man, surprisingly, felt scared. He knew that, whatever the answer, the king could kill the bird. He looked at the king and remained silent for a long time. Finally, with a very serene voice he said:

"The answer, Sir, is in your hands."

The answer is in our hands.


------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

  Dear Friends and Collegues,
I am using this opportunity, only a few days before the start of the 77th Congress of International PEN, to inform you about the activities of the Office of the Vice President of International PEN and of the Diversity PEN Project (website and Collection of Poetry, Fiction & Essays).

1. Few regional, bilateral and other projects (conferences, intercultural exchanges, translation workshops, creative writing practices, readings), were realize during the last year, on my initiative, as the Vice President of PEN International and editor-in-chief of Diversity:
- Balkans regional conference for young writer on the topic of the New Image of the Balkans (May 2011);
- The bilateral conference with the Turkish PEN centre and the presentation of the contemporary Turkish poetry and short story in Skopje and Ohrid, in May 2010. The project was supported by the Macedonian PEN;
- Translation workshop The New Macedonian poetry in Spanish, organized in Skopje in the period from September - December 2010 (with mostly young translators);
- Creative writing project on essays followed by the workshop;
- Workshop on the Norwegian and Nordic literatures and cultures in Skopje, November 2010;
- Preparation for the next translation workshop on the Romanian poetry into Macedonian (October 2011).

2. Electronic multilingual presentation of the texts and translation on the Diversity web site of Diversity.
3. Public promotion of the PEN Charter Principles in the frame of regularly commemoration of the PEN and UNESCO International Days such as the Day of imprisoned writers, the Day of Cultural diversity, the Day of Mother languages, the Day of European languages, the Day of Poetry, Short story Day, etc.
4. During our activites , several times we have encountered with the necessity of modernisation and simplification of the aproach to the context of the on-line eddition and web-page of Diversity, so in order for us, as an organisation to be more approacabble to all audiences, we have re-designed our
web site (http://www.diversity.org.mk/ ), thus making it easy accesible and easy to use.We have also opend an account on Facebook (http://www.facebook.com/pages/Poetiki-Center-for-Creative-Writing/157472640972400), for is it not one of our goals to keep in touch with the informations in this modern times.
5. New Diversity practice with hard publishing of selected editions. Besides publishing text from poets, writers and essayists in electronic form as a standard publishing procedure of our project we have published a few printed printed book-editions as well. Through out wich we acted in the benefit of amplifying the process of favorising the translation as lingua franca, and as a phenomen that narrows the gap between the nations, countries and cultures.

I am presentig you the list of our printed edition:
Mozaik 1: Anthology of the Turkish poetry and Mozaik 2 - Antology of Turkish short story. This project – translation of selected poems and short storyes from Turkish to Macedonian came out as a result of the undisputed friendship and total cooperation between the our organistaion and the Turkish PEN center.
Mannuel pour seduire des princesses - a translation from Spanish into Macedonian of the poetry of the contemporary Spanish poet and essayist, Jose Maria Pas Gago from Spain.
Naked eye - a compilation of my haiku poetry originally written in Macedonaian, and subsequetially translated in five languages (Croatian, English, Spanish, Italian and Portugees)
Cartea a chirolui (in English - Book of time) - Anthology of Contemporary Aromanian poetry which was our biggest project of our anual activities. By publishing this book, we have finally realized on of the the intentions that was imposed as a nessesity with the implementation of the Declaration on Aromanian linguistic and cultural rights. Held in September 2008, at the International PEN Congress in Bogotá - Columbia, This bilingual selection (Aromanian and Macedonian) was promoted on the Day of Cultural Diversity in Skopje.

Notes:
- All of our printed editons will be presented on the Congress in Belgrade.
See you on Monday.
- A new Diversity Flayer will be distributed during the Belgrade PEN Congress.
- Our new Diversity assistant, Ms. Lydia Nikolova will be present on the meetings of the Translation and Linguistic Rights Committee and available for the extra explanations.

Kind regards from Macedonia
Kata Kulavkova, Vice President

------------------------------------------

DIVERSITY

What is Diversity?


Diversity is a multilingual literary collection of the Translation & Linguistic Rights Committee of the International P.E.N. Each author is presented in at least three languages: the original, Macedonian and one of the three official P.E.N. languages.

Diversity
was founded in spring 2003, as the first massive electronic publishing and translation project of the P.E.N. International.

The idea for Diversity was initiated at the P.E.N. Conferences in Ohrid, Skopje and Pula, after the relocation of the TaLRC seat from Barcelona (the Catalan P.E.N.) to Skopje. Hosted by the Macedonian P.E.N. Center, Diversity is based in the Macedonian capital, where the Diversity web site is technically maintained.

Diversity
is a digital collection that focuses on the selection and translation of literary works, or fragments of larger poetry texts, fiction, theatre plays and essays.

Diversity
is concerned with inter-literary and inter-cultural dialogue, subtlety, originality, cultural tradition, literary innovation, and practical exploration of innovative literary sensitivity and discourses.

Diversity
promotes literary and linguistic heritage as world heritage, and as an immanent and eminent anthropological and cultural value.


Why
Diversity?

Diversity was formed to give its own particular mark and contribution to the realization of the International P.E.N. Charter.
Diversity was founded with the purpose of contributing to the affirmation of the essential UNESCO strife for protection of the World`s linguistic, literary and cultural diversity.
Diversity is designed in accordance with the Standing Orders of the Translation and Linguistic Rights Committee and it represents an actualization of one of its crucial functions.

Diversity responds to the need of literary exchange, according to the proposal adopted at the 1997 Ohrid P.E.N. Conference (PETL).

The major guideline of this multilingual electronic project is to form a collection of literary works translated from the so-called languages of lesser currency into other world languages, and into the official languages of the P.E.N. International (English, French and Spanish).

Diversity
multilingual e-collection promotes minor languages and literatures of great value. At the same time, it presents works translated from the major languages into the minor languages of the world.

Diversity
aims to form an open and continuously up-to-date circle of literary communication, translation, understanding, interpretation and dialogue between different cultures, traditions, civilizations and worldviews.


How does
Diversity function?

Diversity
publishes works by contemporary and living authors.

Diversity
promotes already published and previously unpublished works, depending on the copyright agreement with the author.

The e-published works are translated in at least two languages, although, in principle, the collection aims to present each author in a number of languages.

The translation from the so-called langages of lesser currency into the official P.E.N. languages (English, French and Spanish) is organized and coordinated with the aid of a team of consultants and translators of Diversity. Translation into Macedonian is organized at the seat of the TaLRC in Skopje. Translation from the original language of the work is a preference: translation from one of the major languages, and not from the original language (in case the original is a language of lesser currency) is accepted only by exception.

Each e-publication offers basic biography and bibliography of the author, as well as critical reviews.

The Diversity database provides search options by various criteria, allowing searches for various aims and reasons.

In its first phase, the P.E.N. collection Diversity wil be exclusevely electronic, and hard copy published books are expected as soon as the project finds financial support that would make the printing possible.

When the circumstances allow, the TaLRC will organize a House of Translation in Ohrid, Macedonia, where one-month residence will be granted to Diversity translators. Diversity can organize translation workshops in the TaLRC Seat in Skopje, or in other countries upon an invitation of other P.E.N. Centres.

Diversity
builds and maintains a network of instiutions and individuals interested in giving their contribution to the world linguistic and literary diversity.


Who is published on
Diversity?

Excerpts from poetry books, selections and anthologies, short stories, excerpts from novels and essays from distinguished authors, mainly members of the P.E.N. International are taken into consideration for publishing. The authors are mainly (although not exclusively!) members of P.E.N. centres, regardless of their nationality, ethnic, linguistic and religious background.

The works can be previously published in the original language, and for the first time published in electronic format, as well as in Macedonian languagel.

The Diversity Editorial Board and the Editor-In-Chief are responcible for the sellection of the authors and their work.

Editor-In-Chief:
KATA KULAVKOVA
- Macedonian P.E.N.
poetics@sonet.com.mk

Editor:

CASIMIRO de BRITO - Portuguese P.E.N.

casimirodebrito@netcabo.pt


Web Editor:
Igor Isakovski
(previously Ana Pejchinova, Jasminka Markovska, and Jasmina Ilievska-Marjanovic)
diversity@diversity.org.mk


There are three basic collections of texts: poetry, fiction and non-fiction published on Diversity.

Diversity
values the diverse nations, literatures, languages and cultures from around the world and one of its basic values is to preserve this diversity in the works presented on the site. The authors belong to different generations as well.

The Diversity people:

The Editorial Board consists of the following editorial bodies:
- Editorial Board,
- International Team of Consultants or the Advisory Board, consisting of representatives of all P.E.N. Centres, members of the TaLRC,
- Editor-in-Chief;
- Web editor.


The Diversity Editorial Board:

It has the following authorization:
- to determine the orientation of the collection,
- to form an international network of authors and translators,
- to select authors and works, and to plan the collection,
- to protect the copyright laws of the published authors and translators,
- to promote and protect the fundamental conceptual principles of multilinguism, diversity and aesthetical qualities of the Diversity.
- to maintain cooperation with corresponedent institutes, fondatons and sponsors,
- to coordinate the project with other P.E.N. projects,
- to maintain a multi-national editorial board,
The Editorial Board is appointed by the Translation and Linguistic Rights Committee at the proposal of the Editor-in-Chief of the Diversity.
The Board meets at least annually in Skopje, Ohrid (within the framework of the Ohrid P.E.N. Conference Programme) or elsewhere (within the International P.E.N. Conference, etc.)


The International Team of Regional Consultants

The team is an informal body of the Diversity.
The Team is open and consist of writers, critics, essayists, anthologists and publishers, all nominated by the P.E.N. Centres - members of the TaLRC. The Team can have 42 members at the most.

Considering that the International P.E.N. has 138 members, and the Committee 43, the consultants are invited to recommend authors and works not only from their regions, but also from the wider areas kindred to them in linguistic and cultural sense.

Each of the Consultants has the right to recommend authors and translators primarily from their own linguistic, literary and cultural region. The Consultants are responsible for establishing and maintaining relations between the Editorial Board and their publishers, with the aim to regulate the copyright laws.

The Consultans report about their activities at their home P.E.N. Centres.


Regional Consultants/Advisory Board:

Judith Rodrigues (Australian P.E.N. - Melbourne)
Aysu Erden (Turkish P.E.N.)
Esther Allen (American P.E.N. - NY)
Bente Christensen (Norwegian P.E.N.)
Philipe Cujas (French P.E.N.)
Sibila Petlevski (Croatian P.E.N.)
Yang Lian (Ind.Chinese P.E.N.)
Ivo Frbezar (Slovenian P.E.N.)
Vida Ognenovic (Serbian P.E.N.)
Reza Baraheni (Canadian P.E.N.)
Tomas Burghart (German P.E.N.)
Gulere Cornelius (Uganda P.E.N.)
Sulumba Maureen (Malawi P.E.N.)
Lasse Soderberg (Swedish P.E.N.)
Anna Hakobian (Armenaian P.E.N.)
Cecilia Balcazar (Columbian P.E.N.)
Justo Jorge Padron (Spanish P.E.N.).


What is the location of
Diversity?

The Diversity Office is hosted by the Macedonian P.E.N. Centre and is located at the following address:

Translation & Linguistic Rights Committee
Macedonian P.E.N. Center
MKC, Dimitar Vlahov Quay bb
1000 Skopje, Republic of Macedonia
Tel.+ 389 (2) 32 39 155
Fax: + 389 (2) 31 30 054
E-mail: diversity@diversity.org.mk


source : Dibversity 

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------

Saturday, September 10, 2011

ZARGANAR

ZARGANAR

COUNTRY OF ORIGIN: BURMA

OCCUPATION: COMEDIAN, POET, DIRECTOR, ACTIVIST

STATUS: IMPRISONED FOR 35 YEARS


Zarganar is Burma's leading comedian and an accomplished poet, writer, and director who throughout his career has used his artistic talents to draw attention to political repression in Burma.

Zarganar was first arrested in 1988 following the pro-democracy demonstrations, in which he played a leading role. As reading and writing were forbidden in his cell in Insein Prison, he mixed dust with water and wrote poetry on the floor, committing the poems to memory and sweeping away the evidence. He was freed after six months.
He was arrested again in 1990 while making jokes at a political rally, and was returned to Insein, where he spent five years in solitary confinement. Following his release, he was increasingly involved in social activism and worked closely with international NGO's. During the 'Saffron Revolution' of 2007, Zarganar was one of the key figures to lead public support. This led to a further three weeks in detention.

Zarganar's arrest in June 2008 resulted from his criticism of the Cyclone Nargis relief effort. He had personally organised support from the Burmese arts community and oversaw its delivery to the delta. He was angered by the neglect and corruption he encountered and spoke out about this in interviews. In November 2008, he was convicted of 'public order offences' and sentenced to 59 years in prison, later reduced to 35 years.

In late 2008, Zarganar was moved to Myitkyina Prison in northern Burma, 1,500 km from his family home, where he remains today.

Zarganar was awarded the inaugural PEN/Pinter Prize for an International Writer of Courage in 2009.

Untitled
by Zarganar
Translated by Vicky Bowman

It's lucky my forehead is flat
Since my arm must often rest there.
Beneath it shines a light I must invite
From a moon I cannot see
In Myitkyina

Myitkina Jail, 2010


TAKE ACTION
Send a message of supportIf you would like to send a letter or card to Zarganar, please send it to the English PEN office and we'll arrange for it to be passed on:

Zarganar c/o Cat Lucas
English PEN
Free Word Centre
60 Farringdon Road
London
EC1R 3GA
Write to the authoritiesPlease write to the Burmese Embassy in London:

- Condemning the harsh sentence handed down to Zarganar, and calling for his immediate and unconditional release from prison;
- Seeking assurances of his well-being, and that he is being granted full access to any medical attention he requires, and to his family;

- Calling for the immediate and unconditional release of all those currently detained in Myanmar in violation of their right to free expression.

Appeals to:

His Excellency Mr U Kyaw Myo Htut
Embassy of the Union of Myanmar
19A Charles Street,
London
W1J 5DX
Fax: 020 7409 7043
Email: melondon@btconnect.com

Join the Worldwide Reading for Burma's Silenced Poets

English PEN and the Free Burma VJ campaign (www.freeburmavj.org/) are organising a Worldwide Reading to pay tribute to Burma's Silenced Poets, including Zarganar, and we'd love you all to get involved...

On 21 October 2011, we will be hosting public readings of poetry by our imprisoned colleagues including Zarganar, Nay Phone Latt, U Zeya, Zaw Thet Htwe and Min Ko Naing, in order to raise and maintain awareness of their plight and of all those currently detained in Burma.

We already have events lined up in England, France and Thailand, but to help our message that these writers should be released immediately get through loud and clear we are hoping that PEN centres, other campaigning groups and individuals all around the world will take part by organising a similar event in other countries.

Please join us in giving a voice to our silenced colleagues and in paying tribute to their incredible courage in the face of continued persecution. Together we can send a strong message to the authorities in Burma that these writers have not and will not be forgotten.


Source : English PEN