Ossietzkyprisen 2011 til den iranske advokaten Mohammad Mostafaei

Norsk PENs pris for fremragende innsats for ytringsfriheten, Ossietzkyprisen, tildeles i år den iranske menneskerettighetsadvokaten Mohammad Mostafaei. 

Mostafaei har reddet over 50 klienter i Iran fra å bli henrettet, blant annet et stort antall barn og kvinner.  Etter å ha blitt innkallt til forhør av iranske myndigheter i 2010, forlot han Iran og søkt asyl i Norge, dit han ankom i fjor høst.  Han ble også gjenforent med sin kone og datter i begynnelsen av september 2010.

Mostafaei fikk internasjonal oppmerksomhet da han forsvarte Shakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani, en 43 år gammel tobarnsmor som ble dømt til døden v/stening etter å ha blitt funnet skyldig i utroskap.  Han har også gjort et omfattende arbeid ved å forsvare mange ungdommer som er blitt dømt til døden.

Ossietzkyprisen overrekkes ved en seremoni på Litteraturhuset i Oslo, tirsdag 15. november kl 1900.

En kort orientering om Fengslede Forfatteres Dag og internasjonalt fokus v/generalsekretær Carl Morten Iversen
Prisoverrekkelse ved Norsk PENs leder Anders Heger
Tale til prisvinner ved forfatter og PEN-styremedlem Soudabeh Alishahi
Om de juridiske og menneskerettslige aspektene ved Mostafaeis arbeid
ved advokat Cecilie Schjatvet
Kunstneriske innslag

Arrangementet er åpent for alle – velkommen.

Nærmere informasjon om arrangementet og prisvinner:
Norsk PEN 926 88 023

Norwegian PEN elects renowned writer and publisher as new president


Norwegian PEN elects renowned writer and publisher as new president

At its recent annual meeting, Norwegian PEN elected publisher, writer and columnist Anders Heger as the organisation´s new president. Heger succeeds Kjell Olaf Jensen, who chaired the organisation for ten years. Heger, a renowned publisher, author and columnist, has been an active member of PEN for years and shown great commitment to freedom of expression issues.

Writers Linn Ullmann and Terje Holtet Larsen and journalist Sissel Benneche Osvold were also elected as new members of the Norwegian PEN board.

20 May 2007

Tunisia press release: The Siege Holds


11 April 2007

Fourth TMG Report Launched Worldwide
“Freedom of Expression in Tunisia: The Siege Holds”

In its fourth report on freedom of expression conditions in Tunisia, the International Freedom of Expression Exchange (IFEX) Tunisian Monitoring Group (TMG) concludes that it is still increasingly important that free expression and human rights groups, as well as the international community at large still keep monitoring developments in Tunisia.

“Freedom of Expression in Tunisia: The Siege Holds” is the fourth TMG report since February 2005 and is based on a recent (28 February – 4 March) mission to Tunisia.  The report will be launched worldwide on 11 April at a press conference in Cairo hosted by the Arabic Human Rights Information Network (HRinfo), as well as at an event hosted by the World Press Freedom Committee (WPFC) in Washington. The report, available in English, French and Arabic, will also be launched in Geneva and Paris.

Tunisian authorities have rejected all previous recommendations from the TMG. The new report states that “lack of positive change has led us to conclude that the Tunisian government has sought to further stifle dissidents since the previous TMG report of May 2006. As the present report reflects, it is therefore necessary to maintain and strongly reiterate all past recommendations from the TMG to Tunisian authorities.” This includes calling for the liberation of unjustly jailed human rights activist and lawyer Mohamed Abbou.

The TMG is a group of 16 freedom of expression organisations in the IFEX network.  The recent mission was chaired by Carl Morten Iversen of Norwegian PEN. Other members of the delegation were Yousef Ahmed of Index on Censorship, Virginie Jouan of the World Association of Newspapers (WAN) and Alexis Krikorian of the International Publishers Association (IPA). Sherif Azer of the Egyptian Organization of Human Rights (EOHR) was prevented from receiving a visa on time by the Tunisian Embassy in Cairo, which treated him rudely.

The report is available on-line on the TMG websites at:
– English: http://campaigns.ifex.org/tmg/IFEXTMGreport_April2007.doc
– French: http://campaigns.ifex.org/tmg/rapportduIFEXTMG_avril2007.doc
-Arabic: http://www.hrinfo.net/ifex/wsis/

For further information about the report, contact:

Carl Morten Iversen, Norwegian PEN, at tel: + 47 2247 9220/926 88 023 or e-mail:cmivers@online.no or pen@norskpen.no (English)
Alexis Krikorian, IPA, at tel: + 41 22830 1080/7921 45 530 or e-mail: krikorian@ipa-uie.org(English or French)
Gamal Eid, HRinfo, at tel: +202 524 9544 (Arabic) or e-mail: info@hrinfo.net orgamal4eid@yahoo.com

Members of the IFEX-TMG are:

Arabic Human Rights Information Network (HRinfo), Egypt
Canadian Journalists for Free Expression (CJFE), Canada
Egyptian Organization for Human Rights (EOHR), Egypt
Index on Censorship, UK
International Federation of Journalists (IFJ), Belgium
International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA), The Netherlands
International Press Institute (IPI), Austria
International Publishers’ Association (IPA), Switzerland
Journaliste en danger (JED), Democratic Republic of Congo
Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA), Namibia
Norwegian PEN, Norway
World Association of Community Radio Broadcasters (AMARC), Canada
World Association of Newspapers (WAN), France
World Press Freedom Committee (WPFC), USA
Writers in Prison Committee of International PEN (WiPC), UK

31 FOE organizations ask UNSG Kofi Annan to change venue of next WSIS summit


31 FOE organizations ask UNSG Kofi Annan to change venue of next WSIS summit

At the recent IFEX AGM in Baku, Azerbaijan, 31 member organizations signed a letter urging UN Secretary General Kofi Annan to move the next session of the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS), due to take place in Tunisia in November 2005, unless Tunisia makes substantial progress on respect for freedom of expression.  Norwegian PEN was one of the 31 organizations.

Tunisia is one of the major tourist attractions in North Africa with historic traditions dating back more than 2000 years.  Today, the country has a bad reputation regarding freedom of expression.  As an example, in April 2004 a group of young men were convicted of «creating a gang to terrorise people», «violence against individuals with the intent to terrorise, «holding unauthorised meetings», «theft and attemted theft», «preparing explosive materials» and «unauthorised possession of substances intended for making explosive devices.»  What these eight young men had done, was to download home-pages through the Internet.  At the time of the arrests, the police only confiscated a tube of glue and a few CD-ROMs, which were the only evidence to support the allegation of «making explosives».  Verdict: Up to 26 years in prison.  Five of the defendants filed complaints alleging torture, but the court refused to allow medical examination.

Norwegian PEN president Kjell Olaf Jensen and secretary general Carl Morten Iversen met today with the Tunisian ambassador to Norway, the former journalist Mokhtar Chaouachi, voicing their concern about the trials.  The ambassador informed us that the sentences had been reduced to 13 years upon appeal, a fact that was not very reassuring for Norwegian PEN.

Norwegian PEN also drew the ambassadors attention to a demonstration outside the Tunisian state broadcasting company in Tunis on 27. March 2004, which was soon stopped by the police.  The theme of the demonstration was the right to free expression, and ambassador Chaouachi informed us that the reason it was stopped was the fear of terrorist attacs during the Arab Summit taking place in Tunis at the same time.  When confronted by the fact that a similar demonstration was dispersed by Tunisian security forces on 19. February, with no Arab Summit taking place in Tunis, the ambassador had no reply.

Ambassador Chaouachi also stressed the fact that a recent preparatory committee meeting of WSIS 2 in Hammamet, Tunisia (24. – 26. June 2004) had been carried out without any  problems whatsoever.  Norwegian PEN then informed the ambassador that, according to an internal report from one of the participants at the conference, getting the floor in order to speak was  close to impossible and the members of the civil society groups present at the meeting, discouraged by the hopeless conditions, had contemplated leaving the meeting altogether.  The fact that the upcoming WSIS prepcom meetings are scheduled for Geneva, and not for Tunisia, also indicates that the situation in Hammamet was not the way Tunisian authorities chose to describe it.

On 17.February this year, Tunisian president Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali met with U.S. president George W. Bush in Washington D.C.  President Bush used the occasion to remind his colleague about «the necessity for a free and vibrant press and an open political process».  According to ambassador Chaouachi, this episode took place because president Bush, like western media in general, receive biased information about Tunisia.

In the fall of 2003, Tunisian president Ben Ali was awarded the Golden Pen of Press Freedom from the Tunisian Journalists´ Association.  As a reaction, the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) announced the Tunisian group´s suspension and provisional expulsion from membership in the IFJ.

13. July 2004


Norway’s gift to «Bibliotheca Alexandrina»

Norway’s gift to «Bibliotheca Alexandrina»:

Beacon for Freedom of Expression Database



On Monday, 19 May 2003 the Norwegian Minister of Culture and Church Affairs, Valgerd Svarstad Haugland, presented the Beacon for Freedom of Expression database and website to the new library in Alexandria. The database has been financed by the Ministry of Culture and Church Affairs and developed by the former Norwegian Forum for Freedom of Expression in extensive, global cooperation with international institutions, government bodies, human rights organizations, national libraries and research institutions.

The name “Beacon for Freedom of Expression” refers to the giant lighthouse that stood in Alexandria in historical times. The main purpose of the database is to provide a comprehensive, balanced view of the phenomenon of censorship, to see the situation of freedom of expression today in a broader historical perspective, and to shed light on the fact that censorship occurs in very different societies and transcends all cultural borders.

The database is a pioneering project in terms of its structure and content. It is divided into two parts. The first contains a global, bibliographical reference catalogue of books and newspapers censored by government authorities past and present on political, religious or moral grounds. The second part comprises literature on censorship and freedom of expression. The database is updated continuously and currently contains more than 55,000 bibliographical references. The Beacon for Freedom of Expression therefore represents a steadily growing electronic monument to all the writers, books and newspapers that have been censored throughout history.

The follow-up of the database has been ensured until the end of 2005 by an International Steering Committee comprising the International Freedom of Expression eXchange Clearing House (IFEX), the International Federation of Library Associations (IFLA) and the Norwegian Steering Committee. The Norwegian Steering Committee consists of the Norwegian Library Association, the Institute for Human Rights at the University of Oslo and the Faculty of Journalism, Library and Information Science at Oslo University College. The National Library of Norway acts as technical adviser. The follow-up activities will be financed by the Ministry of Culture and Church Affairs until the end of 2005.

The database can be accessed at Beacon for Freedom of Expression