2018 Russia: Oleg Sentsov - Letter to President Putin

Ukrainian filmmaker and writer Oleg Sentsov, who has been on hunger strike since 14 May 2018, is reportedly in a critical condition. According to his lawyer, who visited him in prison on 7 August 2018, Oleg Sentsov has a low haemoglobin level, resulting in anaemia and a slow heartbeat, and has lost 30 kilogrammes. He is refusing to be transferred to a civilian hospital as he is too weak to stand and says that medical staff there have previously been hostile towards him. Best known for his 2011 film Gamer, Oleg Sentsov was arrested four years ago and sentenced to 20 years in prison on 25 August 2015 on spurious terrorism charges after a grossly unfair trial by a Russian military court, marred by allegations of torture. PEN International fears that he was imprisoned for his opposition to Russia’s annexation of Crimea.  In a statement shared by his lawyer, Oleg Sentsov has declared an ‘indefinite hunger strike’ and that ‘the sole condition for its cessation is the release of all Ukrainian political prisoners located in the territory of the Russian Federation’.

His Excellency
Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin
Ul. Ilyinka, 23
103132 Moscow
Russian Federation

Dear Mr. President,

The Norwegian Writers in Prison Committee is expressing serious concern for the health of filmmaker Oleg Sentsov. He was arrested four years ago and sentenced to 20 years in prison on spurious terrorism charges after a trial by a Russian military court, marred by allegations of torture. International opinion fears that he was imprisoned for his opposition to Russia’s actions in Crimea.

Oleg Sentsov has been on hunger strike since 14th of May 2018. In a statement shared by his lawyer, Oleg Sentsov declared an ‘indefinite hunger strike’ and that ‘the sole condition for its cessation is the release of all Ukrainian political prisoners located in the territory of the Russian Federation’.

The United Nations Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners (the Mandela Rules) explicitly states that prisoners should be allowed to correspond in writing with family and friends at regular intervals. Under Russian legislation, there is usually no limit to the number of letters prisoners may send or receive but correspondence needs be in Russian. The prison authorities are obliged to deliver letters with the minimum of delay. All correspondence is checked and read.

We are calling for Oleg Sentsov’s immediate and unconditional release if, as is feared, he is being persecuted for his legitimate professional activities and peaceful exercise of his right to free expression.

Oslo, August 10th 2018

On behalf of the Norwegian Writers in Prison Committee,

Øivind Hånes, author
Member of Writers in Prison Committee
Norwegian PEN

COPY:
Prosecutor General of the Russian Federation, Yuri Yakovlevich Chaika
Director of the Russian Penitentiary Service of the Russian Federation, Gennady Kornienko
Embassy of the Russian Federation in Oslo, Norway
The Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs

2018 Israel: Dareen Tatour

WORLD POETRY DAY 2018: PEN International condemns the ongoing house arrest and prosecution of Palestinian poet Dareen Tatour, who has been charged with incitement to violence and solidarity with acts of violence, following publications of her work on Facebook and YouTube, and in particular her poem entitled, ‘Qawim
ya sha’abi, qawimhum (Resist, my people, resist them)
’. PEN has carefully reviewed the charge sheet and the evidence against Tatour, and has concluded that she has been targeted for her poetry and peaceful activism. Consequently, it continues to call for her immediate release and for the charges against her to be dropped.

Oslo, 21st of March 2018

Minister of Justice
Ayelet Shaked
Ministry of Justice
29 Salah al-Din Street Jerusalem, 91010, Israel

Attorney General
Avichai Mendelbilt
Ministry of Justice
29 Salah al-Din Street Jerusalem 91010, Israel

The Office of the Deputy Attorney General (International Law)
Ministry of Justice
Alisa Gannel, Adv.
P. O. B ox 929 9 Tel – Aviv 6 1 092 – Israel

Today, on World Poetry Day, our thoughts are with the ongoing house arrest and prosecution of Palestinian poet Dareen Tatour. Tatour has been charged with incitement to violence and solidarity with acts of violence, following publications of her work on Facebook and YouTube. In a poem, Tatour denounces violations committed by the Israeli authorities against Palestinians, and incites them to resist the Israeli occupation; but she does not call for violence. Peacefully exercising the right to free expression is not a crime.

PEN International has carefully reviewed the charge sheet and the evidence against Tatour, and has concluded that she has been targeted for her poetry and peaceful activism. Consequently, it continues to call for her immediate release and for the charges against her to be dropped.

Together with our PEN colleagues worldwide we call for the immediate and unconditional release of Dareen Tatour from her house arrest.

Yours sincerely,
Mr. Øivind Hånes
Writers in Prison Committee
Norwegian PEN

Copy:
The Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Embassy of Israel in Oslo

2018 Eritrea: Amanuel Asrat

WORLD POETRY DAY 2018: Amanuel Asrat, an award-winning Eritrean poet, critic, songwriter, and editor-in-chief of the leading newspaper Zemen, meaning The Times, has been detained incommunicado since he was arrested at his home on the morning of 23 September 2001 amid a crackdown on state and private media. Other independent journalists, opposition politicians and students were also arrested during the crackdown. It is believed that Asrat and the other journalists have neither been charged nor tried. PEN International believes that Asrat’s ongoing detention is an attempt by the Eritrean government to stifle critical voices, including calls for establishing constitutional government.  Norwegian PEN’s Writers in Prison Committee calls for his immediate release and the end to violations of freedom of expression in Eritrea.

Oslo, 21st of March 2018

Your Excellency
President Isaias Afewerki
Office of the President
P.O. Box 257
Asmara, Eritrea

Your Excellency
Minister of Information
Hon. Yemane Gebremeskel
P.O. Box 242
Asmara, Eritrea

Today, on World Poetry Day, our thoughts are with poet Amanuel Asrat, who has been incommunicado for over 16 years. Asrat was arrested at his home on the morning of September 23rd 2001 amid a crackdown on state and private media. Other independent journalists, opposition politicians and students were also arrested during the crackdown. It is believed that Asrat and the other journalists have neither been charged nor tried.

Asrat is thought to be among the few surviving journalists from the 2001 crackdown, alive but in deteriorating health. Unconfirmed reports allege that some of the journalists have died, having been subjected to torture or other ill treatment, including lack of access to medical care.

Together with our PEN colleagues worldwide we call for the immediate and unconditional release of Mr. Asrat. We call for his immediate release and the end to violations of freedom of expression in Eritrea. We also ask for immediate clarification of the fate of all detained journalists and immediate release of those still alive.

Yours sincerely,
Mr. Øivind Hånes
Writers in Prison Committee
Norwegian PEN

Copy:
Embassy of the State of Eritrea, Stockholm
The Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs

2018 China: Liu Xia

WORLD POETRY DAY 2018: Liu Xia is a poet, artist, and founding member of the Independent Chinese PEN Centre. Xia has been held under unofficial house arrest in her Beijing apartment since her late husband, the poet Liu Xiaobo, was named the winner of the Nobel Peace Prize in October 2010. PEN International believes that the ongoing, extra-judicial house arrest of Liu Xia is a form of punishment for the human rights work carried out by her husband, Liu Xiaobo, and is extremely concerned for her physical and psychological integrity. Norwegian PEN’s Writers in Prison Committee calls for the immediate and unconditional release from extra-judicial house arrest of the poet and artist Liu Xia, and for all restrictions on her freedom of movement and expression to be lifted.

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

Oslo, 21.03.18

Your Excellency,

Today, on World Poetry Day, our thoughts are with poet Liu Xia who has been held in unofficial house arrest during her husbands long imprisonment, and after his death still lives under strong surveillance. There are reports that Liu Xia’s mental and physical health continue to suffer due to her detention. PEN International believes that the ongoing, extra-judicial house arrest of Liu Xia is a form of punishment for the human rights work carried out by her husband, Liu Xiaobo, and is extremely concerned for her physical and psychological integrity.

Together with our PEN colleagues worldwide we call for the immediate and unconditional release from extra-judicial house arrest of the poet and artist Liu Xia, and call for all restrictions on her freedom of movement and expression to be lifted. Liu Xia should be granted access to all necessary medical care.

We urge Chinese authorities to ratify the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), which provides for freedom of legitimate expression, and freedom of movement and reminding them that as a signatory to the ICCPR China is obliged to ‘refrain from acts that would defeat or undermine the treaty’s objective and purpose.

Yours sincerely,

Ms Brit Bildøen
Chair of Writers in Prison Committee
Norwegian PEN

COPY:
The Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Chinese Embassy of Norway

Hundens år - bedre kår for ytringsfriheten?

I dag feires kinesisk nyttår. Norsk PEN håper at det nye året – hundens år – vil bringe med seg positive endringer for ytringsfriheten i Kina, og vi skal i året som kommer fortsette å legge press på norske myndigheter, slik at de tar opp menneskerettighetsbrudd med sine kinesiske kollegaer.

Det er også tibetansk nyttår, Losar, i dag. Med håp om at Tibet snart vil bli fritt fra kinesisk okkupasjon og undertrykkelse, ønsker vi våre tibetanske venner Losar Tashi Delek!

Infografikk: Norsk PEN/ Larissa Avelar

 

 

 

Appell til støtte for regimekritiske protester i Iran

Asieh Amini, styremedlem i Norsk PEN, holder appell foran Stortinget til støtte for det iranske folket.

I de siste ukene har det iranske folket protestert mot tyranniet, og situasjonen i Iran har fått oppmerksomhet fra media og folk over hele verden. De protesterende krever demokrati og sosial rettferdighet i Iran, de krever grunnleggende menneskerettigheter og verdighet. Demonstrasjonene blir sett og hørt av det iranske regimet, som møter demonstrantene med brutal makt og undertrykkelse.

Appell ved Asieh Amini, styremedlem i Norsk PEN.

Artikkel 19 i Verdenserklæringen om Menneskerettigheter gir alle rett til menings- og ytringsfrihet. Denne retten «omfatter frihet til å hevde meninger uten innblanding og til å søke, motta og meddele opplysninger og ideer gjennom ethvert meddelelsesmiddel og uten hensyn til landegrenser».

Å kritisere, protestere og si «nei» til regimet er det iranske folkets rettigheter. Men hvordan kan folk si sin mening når iranske myndigheter systematisk og vedvarende sensurerer media, trakasserer journalister og aktivister, blokkerer aktiviteter fra sivilsamfunnet og arbeidstakerorganisasjoner og forbyr folket å demonstrere?

Det iranske regimet har i stedet for å lytte til folket svart med undertrykkelse, tyranni og vold.
Vi i Norsk PEN ser at iranske journalister og sivile aktivister jobber med fredelige metoder for å forsvare sine rettigheter og støtte folket. Men svaret på denne fredelige innsatsen har ikke vært noe annet enn vold, fengslinger og trakassering fra regimet. Vi har vært vitne til forfølgelsen av kvinner og menn som har lidd de strengeste straffene og til og med mistet livet bare for å si sannheten, bare for å ha brukt sin grunnleggende rett til å ytre seg fritt. Iran topper listen over land som har flest fengslede forfattere og journalister rundt om i verden, sammen med Tyrkia, Egypt og Kina.

Nå har folk gått ut i gatene, de protesterer og verden hører dem.
Vi hører dem: arbeidere, studenter, lærere og alle i gatene i Iran som sier nei til tyranniet! Vi hører dere! Og vi krever sammen med dere retten til å protestere, til å si hva dere mener om staten Iran. Og den retten må respekteres og anerkjennes av myndighetene.

Norsk PEN viser solidaritet med det iranske folket og krever at det iranske regimet må stanse all voldsbruk mot folket! Vi står sammen med folket som kjemper for vår felles verdighet, rettferdighet, likestilling og demokrati. Vi forsvarer retten til ytringsfrihet, retten til å kritisere regimet, bestemme dens politiske og sosiale status i en rettferdig og demokratisk prosess i Iran.

Appell ved Asieh Amini, styremedlem i Norsk PEN
Holdt lørdag 13. januar 2018 kl. 12.00, Eidsvolds plass

Anledning: Markering til støtte for regimekritiske protester i Iran

Støtt vårt arbeid - bli medlem av Norsk PEN!

Norsk PEN trenger flere medlemmer – jo flere vi er, jo sterkere står vi.

Hvorfor bli medlem?
Folk blir medlem av mange ulike årsaker, og nettopp det bidrar til å gjøre Norsk PEN til en mangfoldig og sterk organisasjon.
Som medlem vil du:
– bidra til at vi kan opprettholde høy aktivitet med stor gjennomslagskraft
– støtte vårt arbeid som pådriver i sentrale nasjonale temaer om ytringsfrihet
– være med på å protestere mot overgrep, trakassering, fengsling, og i verste fall drap, på forfattere og andre frie ytrere.
– slutte deg til et fellesskap med over 900 forfattere, journalister, bloggere, musikere, bibliotekarer, avistegnere og andre frie ytrere og aktivister

Hvem kan bli medlem:
I vedtektene heter det at «Alle som er har gjort en innsats for den frie tanke og det frie ord, kan tas opp som medlem i Norsk PEN». Det vil si at alle som på ulike måter er avhengige av ytringsfrihet i sitt arbeid, er velkommen til å søke om medlemskap. I Norsk PEN er forfattere, journalister, skribenter, forleggere, karikaturtegnere, musikere, billedkunstnere, filmskapere, jurister, akademikere, bibliotekarer, byråkrater, lærere, politikere, komikere, skuespillere, og mange andre yrkesgrupper blant våre medlemmer.

Hvor mye koster det?
Kontingenten er på kr. 450 per år.

Hvordan bli medlem?
Last ned Søknad om medlemskap i Norsk PEN, fyll ut søknaden og sende den til pen@norskpen.no. Du kan også sende den med post til Norsk PEN, Wergelandsveien 29, 0167 Oslo.

Kan jeg støtte Norsk PEN på andre måter?
Du kan gjerne støtte vårt arbeid for forfulgte og truede forfattere og journalister gjennom et bidrag til Norsk PENs Krisefond for forfulgte forfattere.

Støtte kan betales inn til
Krisekontoen 1254.62.25060
eller
vippse til 85438.

19. oktober: Aktivisme eller diplomati? Strategier for ytringsfrihetsarbeid

Velkommen til vårt arrangement på Litteraturhuset i Oslo, 19. oktober 2017:

Hvilke former for ytringsfrihetsarbeid gir best resultater på kort og lang sikt? Er det aksjoner innenfor landets grenser eller påtrykk utenfra fra eksilmiljøer eller diplomati? Hvem er det viktig å få på banen? Hva slags karakter bør appeller ha? Skal de være høflige, bedende, indignerte eller rasende? Hvordan kan vi skape bevegelser i en fastlåst materie som kan hjelpe mennesker som lever under fortvilende forhold? Hva kan utgjøre en forskjell?

Medvirkende:
Idrak Abbasov, journalist fra Aserbajdsjan, tidligere fribyforfatter i Bø
Asieh Amini, journalist, poet og menneskerettighetsaktivist fra Iran, tidligere fribyforfatter i Trondheim
Hilde Frafjord Johnson, bl.a. tidligere statsråd, og fra 2011-2014 spesialutsending for FN til Sør-Sudan
Abazar Hamid, musiker og fredsaktivist fra Sudan, tidligere fribymusiker i Harstad

Arrangør er Norsk PENs Komité for fengslede forfattere, som har tatt initiativ til en serie arrangementer med hovedformål å presentere utenlandske forfattere, journalister og andre ytrere, som lever og arbeider i Norge.

Arrangementet er gratis og finner sted på Litteraturhuset i Oslo, Amalie Skram (2. etasje), torsdag 19. oktober kl. 20.00.

Velkommen!

Norsk PENs Komité for fengslede forfattere består av medlemmer fra Norsk PEN, Den norske Forfatterforening, Norsk Oversetterforening, Norske Barne og Ungdomsbokforfattere og Norsk faglitterær forfatter- og oversetterforening (NFF).

Arrangementet er støttet av skribentorganisasjonene, Norsk Forfattersentrums medlemsfond og Stiftelsen Fritt Ord.

2017: Turkey: Hasip Yanlıç

Norwegian PEN and PEN International are concerned at the arrest and detention of writer and Kurdish PEN member Hasip Yanlıç who was charged on 6 July 2017 with “aiding and abetting a terrorist organisation without being a member” after being arrested at his house in Diyarbakır. Norwegian PEN and PEN International fears that Hasip Yanlıç is being targeted for his writings and outspoken stance on linguistic rights and Kurdish education. In this letter, we call on the Turkish authorities to release Yanlıç immediately.

Minister of Justice Abdülhamit Gül
Ministry of Justice
Milli Müdafaa Caddesi: 22
Bakanlıklar
06659 Kızılay-Ankara
Republic of Turkey

Oslo 16th August 2017

Dear Minister,

Norwegian PEN is concerned to hear of the arrest of Hasip Yanlıç who on 6th July this year was charged with «aiding and abetting a terrorist organisation without being a member», and is currently being held in Diyarbakır Closed D Type Prison.

We fear that Yanlıç is being targeted solely for his writings and his outspoken stance on Kurdish education and linguistic rights.

Norwegian PEN calls for the immediate and unconditional release of Yanlıç, as well as of all other detained writers and jounalists as long as they are not being charged with a criminal offence and tried promptly in accordance with international fair trial standards.

We furthermore call on Turkish authorities to not use the state of emergency to crack down on peaceful protests, civil society, media and education. We likewise urge Turkish authorities to put an immediate stop to the crackdown on the Kurdish regions, and to do their utmost to bring about a peaceful solution to the ongoing conflict.

Yours sincerely,

Ms Johanne Fronth-Nygren
Member of Writers in Prison Committee
Norwegian PEN

COPY:
President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan
Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım
The Turkish Embassy in Norway
The Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs

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