Posts Tagged ‘PEN International’

Three Saudi human rights defenders honored with PEN/Barbey Freedom to Write Award

March 15, 2019

Nouf Abdulaziz, Loujain al-Hathloul and Eman al-Nafjan have won the PEN/Barbey Freedom to Write Award, the literary and human rights organization announced Thursday. The award was established in 1987 and is given to writers imprisoned for their work, with previous recipients coming from Ukraine, Egypt and Ethiopia among other countries. [for more the award and the change of name in 2015 see: http://www.trueheroesfilms.org/thedigest/awards/freedom-to-write-award-pen]

In custody for working to “undermine the security” of the kingdom, Abdulaziz, Al-Hathloul and Al-Nafjan have openly opposed such government policies as a ban on women driving and the restriction of women’s travel, education and other rights without approval from a male guardian. On Wednesday, al-Hathloul and al-Nafjan were among those at a closed-door hearing in Riyadh, according to Amnesty International. Reporters were not allowed in. [see: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2019/03/13/saudi-arabia-persist-with-trial-for-women-human-rights-defenders/]

The fleeting hope that generational transition in the Saudi leadership would open the door toward greater respect for individual rights and international law has collapsed entirely, with individuals paying the highest price as the government resorts to rank barbarism as a blunt means to suppress and deter dissent,” PEN America CEO Suzanne Nossel said in a statement. “These gutsy women have challenged one of the world’s most notoriously misogynist governments, inspiring the world with their demand to drive, to govern their own lives, and to liberate all Saudi women from a form of medieval bondage that has no place in the 21st century.

PEN officials have not determined who will accept the Freedom to Write Award on behalf of the three winners at the annual PEN gala, being held in Manhattan on May 21. Others receiving prizes — and able to collect them in person — include Bob Woodward of Watergate fame and the CEO of Scholastic, Richard Robinson.

PEN has long highlighted the Freedom to Write Award as a way of turning advocacy into concrete action, noting that 37 of the 43 previous winners have since been freed, at least in part because of the attention raised by the prize. “It helped me to survive while I was in prison,” said the 2016 winner, Ahmed Naji, an author and journalist who had been imprisoned in Egypt and now lives in Washington, D.C. …

Al-Nafjan is a blogger and linguistics professor who has written for The Guardian and CNN among other publications. Al-Hathloul is a prominent opponent of the driving ban, lifted shortly after her arrest last year, and was arrested in 2014 and detained for 73 days. Abdulaziz is a journalist and blogger who has written for years about human rights violations. After her arrest, fellow women’s rights activist Mayya al-Zahrani posted online a letter Abdulaziz had written in case she was captured.

“I usually sum up myself with a few characteristics: a writer, a reading addict since I was six years old, my father tells me that I am intelligent; I am a quiet girl except for the questions that storm my mind,” Abdulaziz wrote. “I will talk to you and share some of the questions that overcome my mind: Why is our homeland so small and tight, and why am I considered a criminal or an enemy that threatens it! I was never but a good citizen that loved her country and wished the best for it, a loving daughter and a hardworking student and a devoted worker, who never demeaned hated or envied anyone.

http://www.startribune.com/3-saudi-women-activists-receive-pen-freedom-to-write-award/507137352/

Cartoonist Ramón Esono Ebalé freed in Equatorial Guinea

March 8, 2018

Good news is rare but deserves attention, especially when it seems to be the result of an international campaign: the global #FreeNseRamon coalition:
An Equatorial Guinean court on 7 March, 2018 released an artist imprisoned on dubious charges for nearly six months, 18 human rights groups including PEN America said today. The prosecution dropped all charges against Ramón Esono Ebalé, a cartoonist whose work is often critical of the government, after the police officer who had accused him of counterfeiting $1,800 of local currency admitted making the accusation based on orders from his superiors.  [Esono Ebalé, who lives outside of his native Equatorial Guinea, was arrested on 16 September, 2017, while visiting the country to request a new passport. Police interrogated him about drawings critical of the government, said two Spanish friends who were arrested and interrogated alongside him and were later released. But a news report broadcast on a government-owned television channel a few days after the arrest claimed that police had found 1 million Central African francs in the car Esono Ebalé was driving. On 7 December, he was formally accused of counterfeiting. The charge sheet alleged that a police officer, acting on a tip, had asked him to exchange large bills and received counterfeit notes in return.]“It is a huge relief that the prosecution dropped its charges against Ramon, but they should never have been pressed in the first place,” said Salil Tripathi, chair of PEN International’s Writers-in-Prison Committee. “We urge the authorities to guarantee his safe return to his family, allow him to continue creating his hard-hitting cartoons, and ensure that Equatorial Guinea respects the right to freedom of expression.”

Ramon’s release from prison is a testament of the power of collective work of hundreds of artists, concerned citizens, and NGOs,” said Tutu Alicante, director of EG Justice, which promotes human rights in Equatorial Guinea. “But we must not forget that dozens of government opponents who are not as fortunate fill Equatorial Guinea’s jails; thus, the fight against human rights violations and impunity must continue.”

(The human rights groups are Amnesty International, Arterial Network, Association of American Editorial Cartoonists, Asociación Profesional de Ilustradores de Madrid, Cartoonists Rights Network International, Cartooning for Peace, Committee to Protect Journalists, Caoilfhionn Gallagher QC, Jonathan Price and Paul Mason, Doughty Street Chambers, UK, EG Justice, FIDH, within the framework of the Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, Freemuse, Human Rights Watch, Index on Censorship, PEN America, PEN International, Reporters without Borders, Swiss Foundation Cartooning for Peace, World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT), within the framework of the Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders.)

(see also: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/tag/cartooning-for-peace-award/)

https://pen.org/press-release/equatorial-guinea-artist-freed-prison/

https://freedomnewspaper.com/2018/03/07/press-release-amnesty-international-equatorial-guinea-artist-freed-from-prison/

 

PEN Prize to Honor Jailed Turkish Translator Ayşe Berktay

May 21, 2013

(Ayşe Berktay in Bakırköy Women’s Prison – Photo courtesy Ali Berktay)

On 15 April 2013 PEN American Center  named Ayşe Berktay, a translator, writer, and activist in Turkey, as the recipient of its 2013 PEN/Barbara Goldsmith Freedom to Write Award. Berktay, a leading advocate for peace, women’s rights, and Kurdish rights in Turkey, was arrested on October 3, 2011, and is currently being tried for “membership in an illegal organization” for her pro-Kurdish cultural advocacy. One of at least 130 writers currently in prison or on trial in Turkey, many on false terrorism-related charges, she could face up to 15 years in prison if convicted. Read the rest of this entry »