2017 Russia: Oleg Sentsov

10 May marked three years since prominent Ukrainian writer and filmmaker Oleg Sentsov was arrested and sentenced to 20 years in prison on terrorism charges after an unfair trial by a Russian military court, marred by allegations of torture.

May 18st 2017

Prosecutor General of the Russian Federation, Mr. Yuri Yakovlevich Chaika

Human Right’s Ombudsman of the Russian Federation, Mrs. Tatiana Nikolaevna Moskalkova

To whom it may concern,

PEN International and The Norwegian Writers in Prison Committee hereby urge you to immediately free writer and filmmaker Oleg Sentsov from prison.

Sentsov was arrested on the grounds of “suspicion of plotting terrorist attacks” and sentenced to 20 years in prison during an unfair trial by Russian military court with serious flaws in the judicial proceedings. The key witness retracted his statement, saying it had been extracted under torture. Sentsov was still convicted and is currently being held in Russia, despite him being a Ukrainian citizen.

These unfair proceedings give reason to believe Sentsov was arrested and tried because of his opposition to Russia’s annexation of Crimea. We therefore urge you to immediately release him from prison. If there are grounds to prosecute him on these charges, this should be done by a civil court under Ukrainian law.

Oleg Sentsov has claimed he was tortured and mistreated in the time following his arrest on May 10th 2014. We therefore also urge for the Russian authorities to order an independent and impartial investigation into Sentsov’s allegations of torture and other ill-treatment.

Yours sincerely,
Mari Moen Holsve
Member of Writers in Prison Committee
Norwegian PEN

COPY: The Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, The Russian Embassy in Norway

2017: Yemen: Yahya al-Jubaihi

Yahya al-Jubaihi, a prominent Yemeni writer and journalist, underwent a grossly unfair trial that resulted in a death sentence. Moreover, he has been arbitrary detained since September 2016. The Norwegian Writers in Prison Committee  believes his detention and death sentence are related to al-Jubaihi’s articles criticizing Houthi insurgence.

 

To

Ministry of Justice
Mr. Ahmed Abdullah Akbat, Minister of justice
Sana’a, Yemen
Email: mail.yemengov@gmail.com
info.government@yemen.net.ye

Oslo, May 14th 2017

Dear Minister of justice Mr. Ahmed Abdullah Akbat,

The Norwegian Writers in Prison Committee is deeply concerned about the death sentence issued by a Houthi court in Sana’a against Yahya al-Jubaihi, a prominent Yemeni writer and journalist, after a grossly unfair trial. He has been arbitrary detained since September 2016. We fear that al-Jubaihi’s detention and death sentence are related to his articles criticizing Houthi insurgence.

We call for Yahya al-Jubaihi’s death sentence to be quashed. Yahya al-Jubaihi should be released or retried in proceedings that conform to international fair trial standards and without the possibility of a death sentence.

 

The Norwegian Writers in Prison Committee urge the Houthi authorities to ensure the peaceful exercise of the right to freedom of expression, including the release of all detainees held solely for the peaceful exercise of their rights.

 

Yours sincerely,

Jørgen Lorentzen
Member of Writers in Prison Committee
PEN Norway

 

COPY:

The Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Justice in Yemen, Ministry of Human Rights in Yemen

2017: Turkey: Sajjad Jahan Fard

Sajjad Jahan Fard, journalist and writer, and his friend Hassan Baladeh were arrested while on Mardin, in South-eastern Turkey, and are charged with “membership in a terrorist organization”. Linked to the Kurdish intellectual community, Fard and Baladeh are facing up to 10 years in prison.

 

Minister of Justice Bekir Bozdağ
Milli Müdafaa Caddesi No: 22
Bakanlıklar
06659, Kızılay
Ankara
Turkey

February 10th 2017

Dear Sir,

PEN International and The Norwegian Writers in Prison Committee are concerned with the arrest and detention of Kurdish Iranian writer and journalist Sajjad Jahan Fard, and that of his friend Hassan Baladeh, who were charged on 25th January 2017 with “membership of a terrorist organisation”. Upon their arrest they were refused access to their families and legal counsel for four days.

Fard and Baladeh were arrested while on a trip to the city of Mardin, in South-eastern Turkey. They were there as tourists, taking pictures, as any tourist would do, and the charges against them are groundless.

PEN International urges the Turkish authorities to release them immediately. We urge you to safeguard freedom of expression, human rights and to release all journalists and writers held solely in connection with their peaceful exercise of their right to freedom of expression.

 

Yours sincerely,

Mari Moen Holsve

Member of Writers in Prison Committee
Norwegian PEN

 

COPY: President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Embassy of Turkey in Norway, The Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs

2017: Russia: Natalya Sharina

Natalya Sharina, the director of the Library of Ukranian Literature in Moscow, has been charged with “inciting ethnic hatred and humiliating human dignity,” and has been under house arrest since 2015. The Norwegian Library Association and Norwegian PEN have sent an appeal to Russian authorities calling for he release.

 

Embassy of the Russian Federation
Drammensveien 74
0244 OSLO

Oslo, 31st  January 2017

 

Your Excellencies,


We write to you as the chair of the committee of freedom of expression in the Norwegian Library Association (NLA) and the chair of the Writers in Prison Committee of Norwegian PEN.


Natalya Sharina, Director of the Library of Ukrainian Literature in Moscow, has now been under house arrest for more than a year. 
The Norwegian Library Association and the Norwegian PEN organization remains extremely concerned over the treatment of Sharina. She was arrested and placed under house arrest in October 2015 after being accused of inciting hatred or animosity towards a social group by allegedly holding banned books in the Library.  Sharina was subsequently arrested, and placed under house arrest. The Court has now extended her house arrest until 28 April 2017, but allowed Natalya Sharina to have daily walks in fresh air for two hours.


We express our deepest concerns at the continued imprisonment of Sharina, and call for her immediate and unconditional release if she is held – as we believe is very likely to be the case – solely for the peaceful exercise of her right to freedom of expression. 
We believe that the treatment of the Library of Ukrainian Literature, and its staff – and in particular Natalya Sharina – is completely disproportionate and unnecessary. As such it is an attack on democracy, learning and culture.


Libraries and librarians have a key role in supporting human rights, including freedom of access to information and freedom of expression, and an attack on libraries or librarians is an attack on democracy and culture.


We are strongly committed to Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights:


Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.


The Norwegian Library Association and the Norwegian PEN 
calls upon the Russian officials to release Natalya Sharina, in line with Russia’s obligation to respect the right to freedom of expression.

 

Brit Bildøen,                                                 Ingeborg Rygh Hjorthen,

 

Chair of the Writers in Prison Committee,          Chair of the committee of freedom of expression,

Norwegian PEN                                               Norwegian Library Association

2017: Azerbaijan: Rashad Ramazanov

The Azerbaijani writer and blogger Rashad Ramazanov has been moved into solitary confinement . Mr. Ramazanov was charge with possession of drugs, however, PEN believes his detention is politically motivated and connected to mr. Ramazanov’s anti-government writing.

Embassy of the Republic of Azerbaijan
Barnhusgatan 3
SE-11 23 Stockholm
azerembassy@gmail.com

Oslo, 31.01.2017

 

Your Excellences,

Norwegian PEN is deeply concerned about the health and well-being of writer and blogger Rashad Ramazanov, who has been moved into solitary confinement at Baku Prison #2, where he is serving a nine-year sentence for his anti-government writings. Ramazanov suffer from several medical problems, and there is now serious concerns for his well-being and physical integrity. He is also being denied family visits and access to his lawyer.

Azerbaijan has its obligations under Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights and Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights to protect the right to freedom of expression.

PEN protest the detention of Ramazanov on politically motivated charges, and call on the Azerbaijan authorities to release him immediately and unconditionally and to overturn his conviction and sentence.

 

Yours sincerely,

Ms Brit Bildøen
Chair of Writers in Prison Committee
Norwegian PEN

 

 

COPY: The Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs

2017 China: Independent Chinese PEN Center

In China writers, journalists, the Independent Chinese PEN Center and its members, as well as other critical voices have been persecuted, harassed, imprisoned, and sometimes forcibly disappeared. Norwegian PEN and the Writers in Prison Committee call on Chinese authorities to comply with the right of freedom of expression.

Oslo, January 5th 2017

His Excellency Xi Jinping
President of the People’s Republic of China
State Council
Beijing 100032
P.R. China

 

Your Excellency,

The Norwegian PEN and its Writers in Prison Committee is hereby calling for the release of all writers, journalists and publishers imprisoned in violation of their right to freedom of expression in the People’s Republic of China. We are urging you to cease the harassment and persecution of members of the Independent Chinese PEN Centre, and lift all restrictions on their freedom to exit and enter mainland China, particularly to attend PEN International conferences and to return home.

We are also calling on you to end the practice of enforced disappearance and the use of forced confessions, which contravene an individual’s right to fair trial.

Finally, we are calling on you to ratify the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which was signed by the People’s Republic of China in October 1998.

 

On behalf of the Norwegian Writers in Prison Committee,

 

Øivind Hånes
author

 

 

Copies: Embassy of the People’s Republic of China in the Kingdom of Norway; The Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs

2016 Iran: Keywan Karimi

Prominent filmmaker Keywan Karimi has received a summons to begin serving his sentence on 23 November 2016. Karimi was sentenced to six years’ imprisonment and 223 lashes on 13 October 2015 by Branch 28 of Tehran Revolutionary Court for ‘insulting the holy sanctities’, ‘spreading propaganda against the system’ and ‘illegitimate relations’. An Appeals Court upheld his sentence in February 2016, ruling to suspend five of his six-year punishment for a period of five years. He is now required to serve a one-year prison term and receive 223 lashes.

To
President of the Islamic Republic of Iran, Hassan Rouhani
Pasteur Street, Pasteur Square
Tehran, Islamic Republic of Iran

Oslo, December 12th 2016

Your Excellency President Hassan Rouhani,

The Norwegian Writers in Prison Committee is expressing serious concern about the conviction and harsh sentence imposed on filmmaker Keywan Karimi, and we are calling on the Iranian authorities to quash his conviction as it is connected to his peaceful exercise of his right to freedom of expression.

We are especially concerned about his flogging sentence, which violates the absolute prohibition in international law against torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.

We are also calling for the immediate and unconditional release of all other writers and journalists currently detained in Iran in connection with their peaceful exercise of their right to freedom of expression, in accordance with Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Iran is a state party.

Yours sincerely,

Jørgen Lorentzen
Member of Writers in Prison Committee
PEN Norway

COPY:
The Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs

2016 Tyrkia: Cemil Ugur

Norsk PENs komité for fengslede forfattere har sendt brev til president Erdogan (se under) med krav om umiddelbart å løslate journalist Cemil Ugur, som sitter fengslet anklaget for å være medlem av en terrororganisasjon og å spre propaganda for en ulovlig organisasjon. Anklagene mot Ugur kom da han i august rapporterte fra en solidaritetsmarkering for fengslede skribenter, utenfor et fengsel i Mersin.

cemil-ugur

To
President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan
Cumhurbaşkanlığı Külliyesi
06560 Beştepe-Ankara

Oslo, October 20th 2016

Dear President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan,

The Norwegian Writers in Prison Committee is expressing serious concern about the situation for the journalist Cemil Uğur, who is being held in Mersin E Type Closed Prison. We are calling for Cemil Uğur’s immediate and unconditional release whom we consider is being held solely in connection with the peaceful exercise of his right to freedom of expression.

We are also calling for all detained writers and journalists to have access to lawyers and to be released if they are not to be charged with a recognizably criminal offence and tried promptly in accordance with international fair trial standards.

Yours sincerely,

Jørgen Lorentzen
Member of Writers in Prison Committee
PEN Norway

COPY:
The Turkish Embassy in Norway
The Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs

2016 Honduras: Cesario Alejandro Félix Padilla Figueroa

Norsk PENs komité for fengslede forfattere krever full rettssikkerhet for Cesario Alejandro Félix Padilla Figueroa, studentleder og medlem av PEN Honduras.

Abogado Óscar Fernando Chinchilla Banegas
Fiscal General de la República
Ministerio Público
Lomas del Guijarro
Avenida República Dominicana
Edifico Lomas Plaza II
Tegucigalpa
Honduras

Dr. Roberto Herrera Cáceres
Comisionado Nacional de los Derechos Humanos (CONADEH)
Colonia Florencia Norte
Boulevar Suyapa
Tegucigalpa Honduras

Dear Sirs,
PEN International, Norwegian PEN and The Norwegian Writers in Prison Committee are concerned to hear of the arrest of PEN Honduras member Cesario Alejandro Félix Padilla Figueroa on June 7th 2016, alongside five other students at the National Autonomous University of Honduras in the Honduran capital Tegucigalpa.

PEN International and Norwegian PEN urge the Honduran authorities to drop all charges against Cesario Alejandro Félix Padilla Figueroa, whom PEN International believes is being prosecuted for exercising his right to freedom of expression and assembly by peacefully participating in and observing student protests, Furthermore, we urge the authorities to protect Padilla and to investigate any unlawful surveillance of him. PEN call on the government not to criminalise social protest or use the justice system to generate fear, censorship and silence among journalists, writers and others in Honduras.

Yours sincerely,
Hilde Rød-Larsen
Member of Writers in Prison Committee
Norwegian PEN

COPY: The Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs
The Consulate General of Honduras in Norway

2016: Thailand: Somyot Prueksakasemsuk

May 10th, 2016

Prime minister Gen. Prayuth Chan-o-cha
Government House
Pitsanulok Road, Dusit
Bangkok 10300
Thailand

Your Excellency,

PEN International and The Norwegian Writers in Prison Committee is deeply concerned by the harsh sentence handed down to prominent activist and editor Somyot Prueksakasemsuk, and calling for his immediate and unconditional release in accordance with Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), to which Thailand is a state party.

We demand that Somyot Prueksakasemsuk is given immediate access to reading material and is permitted to partake in recreational activities.

We express our serious concern for Somyot Prueksakasemsuk‘s well-being and urging authorities to provide him with adequate medical treatment while detained and to ensure that he is protected from ill-treatment.

We are deeply concerned about the continued use of lèse majesté laws to criminalise free expression, and urging an amendment to Article 112 of the Penal Code in order to ensure that it meets Thailand’s international obligations to protect freedom of expression.

 

Yours sincerely,
Øivind Hånes
Member of Writers in Prison Committee
Norwegian PEN
COPY: The Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs