Category Archives: Newsletters

Time to Say No ! Poems for Malala Yousafzai

Journalists and writers from Brazil, Austria, Germany, Argentina, Turkey, India, Bulgaria, Iran, Norway, Pakistan, Ireland, China, Estonia, Mexico and Vietnam, among others, participate in “Time to say No!”, An anthology  by Helmuth Niederle and Philo Ikonya, writers and editors.

Malala Yousafzai

Philo Ikonya and Helmuth Niederle have produced a book of over two hundred multilingual poems and protests themed in our ability as writers to refuse violence against girls like Malala who have sought with passion to be educated. The book will be launched on the 7th and 8th of March 2013 to coincide with international Women’s Day 2013.

Our sincere thanks to the Irish writers who participated and to Philo and Helmuth who have made the text available in pdf via a public drop-box link.

This link will lead readers to the words of contributors aged 11-80 who desire to support the education of girls and to protest the shooting of a child.

  • The right to education is a universal human right. It is a basic right which fosters and guarantees democracy founded on constitutional legality. This is independent of and not based on or limited by gender
  • Time to say No ! Poems for Malala Yousafzai 

Freedom of Expression in Ireland: A public interview with KEVIN MYERS

Should writers always speak their minds?

Do writers always speak their minds?

Do we have a free press in Ireland, or is the media controlled by a politically correct agenda?


Irish PEN in collaboration with DIT School of Media asks these questions and more in a public interview with Kevin Myers.

 Freedom of Expression in Ireland

8pm on March 14th 2013

 DIT School of Media, Aungier St.



Kevin Myers became a journalist upon leaving UCD, for want of anything else to do. Over forty years later, he remains a journalist for largely the same reason. He has been a newspaper columnist since 1980,and writes four columns a week. He has also reported on the wars in Northern Ireland, where he worked throughout the 1970s, Beirut and Bosnia, and also from Japan, Africa and Czechoslovakia.


Mr Myers was recently the subject of a complaint about an opinion piece on the subject of gay marriage.The complaint, made to the Press Ombudsman, was upheld – the ombudsman found that it breached principle regarding distinguishing fact from fiction and prejudice.This is not the first time that he has been the subject of controversy for his views, ranging from immigration, privatisation, child-rearing and gay rights; and it will not, one suspects, be the last.


Irish PEN is affiliated to PEN International, the worldwide association for writers, and is supported by Dublin City Arts Office. The aims of PEN are to promote literature, defend freedom of expression and promote co-operation among writers. PEN’s membership around the world numbers journalists, novelists, poets essayists and playwrights, as well as those with an interest in writing and communication between writers.

PEN International’s Writers in Prison Committee works on behalf of imprisoned, censored and persecuted writers around the globe:  “Because writers speak their minds”.

For over fifty years, the School of Media at DIT has provided innovative educational programmes, earning an international reputation for innovating new courses as media technologies, as well as the way we use media in society, evolve. The School’s graduates emerge with the ability to generate ideas, the knowledge and understanding to develop ideas into concepts, and the production expertise to execute highly accomplished work.

Interviewer Tom Clonan is a lecturer specialising in news journalism, public affairs and crisis management at DIT Aungier St. He is a published author and has written for the Irish Times for the past 11 years, while also working in radio and television broadcasting. He is a retired Army Officer and like Kevin Myers, has experience of conflict in Ireland, the Middle East and former Yugoslavia. No stranger to controversy, Tom is regarded as one of Ireland’s foremost whistleblowers because of his experience of exposing crises in equality and the military in Ireland.


ALL WELCOME – ADMISSION €3/€6

SEATING LIMITED – BOOKING ESSENTIAL AT: http://kevinmyers-irishpen-dit.eventbrite.ie


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Is the Irish Government proposing 'censorship by committee'?

PEN International Declaration on Digital Freedom :

” PEN recognizes the promise of digital media as a means of fulfilling the fundamental right of free expression. At the same time, poets, playwrights, essayists, novelists, writers, bloggers, and journalists are suffering violations of their right to freedom of expression for using digital media. Citizens in many countries have faced severe restrictions in their access to and use of digital media, while governments have exploited digital technologies to suppress freedom of expression and to surveil individuals”

Here.


Irish Government proposes an Oireachtas Committee to regulate social-media

”  An Oireachtas committee is to investigate abuses of social media and make a report to Minister for Communications Pat Rabbitte early next year.

The Oireachtas Committee on Transport and Communications is shortly to invite submissions and expressions of interest from individuals and groups on the Oireachtas website. This will be followed by private and public hearings.

Committee chairman Tipperary South Fine Gael TD Tom Hayes said yesterday he was concerned about the growth of cyberbullying and abusive remarks generally made on social media.

“People have to be made accountable for what they are saying,” he added. “Members of the public across a wide section of Irish life are being subjected to bullying and harassment.”

Full report : http://www.irishtimes.com/newspaper/ireland/2012/1228/1224328227058.html


Colette Browne in the Examiner 

” The committee on transport and communications has announced a knee-jerk review to determine if regulation or legislation is required when it’s obvious that neither is necessary.

We already have legislation that can be used to prosecute cyberbulling, the Non Fatal Offences Against the Person Act 1997. Section 10 of that act states that any person who, “without lawful authority or reasonable excuse, by any means including by use of the telephone, harasses another by persistently following, watching, pestering, besetting or communicating with him or her, shall be guilty” of the offence of harassment. Barrister Fergal Crehan, in a recent blog post, noted that the section was last year successfully applied to a case in which the harassment was conducted entirely via email and featured no physical violence.

So, the means of the communication, really, is immaterial. All that is important is that a defendant “acts intentionally or recklessly [and] seriously interferes with the [victim’s] peace and privacy or causes alarm, distress or harm”.

Patently, there is absolutely no reason why threatening messages sent via social networking sites could not also be prosecuted using the same section.”

 


The Irish PEN Award for Literature 2013; request for nominations

2013 PEN Award nominations


In 1998, Irish PEN set up an award to honour an Irish-born writer who has made an outstanding contribution to Irish Literature.This Award is for a significant body of work, written and produced over a number of years, and is open to novelists,  playwrights, poets, scriptwriters etc.

Members of Irish PEN, as well as previous winners nominate and vote for the candidate. In keeping with the tradition started at the W.B. Yeats dinner in 1935, the writer is presented with the Award in the company of other writers at our annual dinner.

In 1999 the first Irish PEN Award was presented to John B. Keane. Since then Brian Friel, Edna O’Brien, William Trevor, John McGahern, Neil Jordan, Seamus Heaney, Jennifer Johnston, Maeve Binchy, Thomas Kilroy, Roddy Doyle, Colm Tóibín and Joseph O’Connor have been recipients.

We request your nominations for next year’s Award, and very much look forward to seeing you at our Award Dinner in February.

The 2012 Irish PEN Award for Literature:  https://irishpen.com/wordpress/the-irish-pen-2012-award-and-dinner-a-photo-montage/

You can email your nominations to this address : irishpen2@gmail.com 
Postal Address for nominations : c/o Irish PEN Correspondence Secretary, United Arts Club, 3 Upper Fitzwilliam Street, Dublin 2.

 

 

 

 

PEN International Declaration on Digital Freedom

PEN recognizes the promise of digital media as a means of fulfilling the fundamental right of free expression. At the same time, poets, playwrights, essayists, novelists, writers, bloggers, and journalists are suffering violations of their right to freedom of expression for using digital media. Citizens in many countries have faced severe restrictions in their access to and use of digital media, while governments have exploited digital technologies to suppress freedom of expression and to surveil individuals. The private sector and technology companies in particular have at times facilitated government censorship and surveillance. PEN therefore declares the following:

1. All persons have the right to express themselves freely through digital media without fear of reprisal or persecution.

a. Individuals who use digital media enjoy full freedom of expression protections under international laws and standards.

b. Governments must not prosecute individuals or exact reprisals upon individuals who convey information, opinions, or ideas through digital media.

c. Governments must actively protect freedom of expression on digital media by enacting and enforcing effective laws and standards.

2. All persons have the right to seek and receive information through digital media.

a. Governments should not censor, restrict, or control the content of digital media, including content from domestic and international sources.

b. In exceptional circumstances, any limitations on the content of digital media must adhere to international laws and standards that govern the limits of freedom of expression, such as incitement to violence.

c. Governments should not block access to or restrict the use of digital media, even during periods of unrest or crisis. Controlling access to digital media, especially on a broad scale, inherently violates the right to freedom of expression.

d. Governments should foster and promote full access to digital media for all persons.

3. All persons have the right to be free from government surveillance of digital media.

a. Surveillance, whether or not known by the specific intended target, chills speech by establishing the potential for persecution and the fear of reprisals. When known, surveillance fosters a climate of self-censorship that further harms free expression.

b. As a general rule, governments should not seek to access digital communications between or among private individuals, nor should they monitor individual use of digital media, track the movements of individuals through digital media, alter the expression of individuals, or generally surveil individuals.

c. When governments do conduct surveillance—in exceptional circumstances and in connection with legitimate law enforcement or national security investigations—any surveillance of individuals and monitoring of communications via digital media must meet international due process laws and standards that apply to lawful searches, such as obtaining a warrant by a court order.

d. Full freedom of expression entails a right to privacy; all existing international laws and standards of privacy apply to digital media, and new laws and standards and protections may be required.

e. Government gathering and retention of data and other information generated by digital media, including data mining, should meet international laws and standards of privacy, such as requirements that the data retention be time-limited, proportionate, and provide effective notice to persons affected.

4. The private sector, and technology companies in particular, are bound by the right to freedom of expression and human rights.

a. The principles stated in this declaration equally apply to the private sector.

 

b. Companies must respect human rights, including the right to freedom of expression, and must uphold these rights even when national laws and regulations do not protect them.

c. Technology companies have a duty to determine how their products, services, and policies impact human rights in the countries in which they intend to operate. If violations are likely, or violations may be inextricably linked to the use of products or services, the companies should modify or withdraw their proposed plans in order to respect human rights.

d. Technology companies should incorporate freedom of expression principles into core operations, such as product designs with built-in privacy protections.

e. If their operations are found to have violated the right to freedom of expression, technology companies should provide restitution to those whose rights were violated, even when governments do not provide remedies.

 

http://www.pen-international.org/pen-declaration-on-digital-freedom/

Day of the Imprisoned Writer Event on November 15th 2012


Images: Brian Keenan , Nuala Ní Dhomhnaill, and Justine McCarthy reading at The Day of the Imprisoned Writer Event in collaboration between Irish PEN and Front Line Defenders. The New Theatre , in Dublin’s Temple Bar.


Day of the Imprisoned Writer
15 November 2012
The New Theatre
43 East Essex St., Temple Bar @ 5.30pm

 

 

The Day of the Imprisoned Writer celebrates and supports writers who resist repression of the basic human right to freedom of expression and who stand up to attacks made against their right to impart information and insight.

 

On 15 November former Beirut hostage and writer Brian Keenan, poet Nuala Ni Dhomhnaill and journalist Justine McCarthy will read from the work of writers based around the world who have been targeted because they had the courage to speak their minds. These writers challenge injustice and confront the governments and oppressive regimes who see every criticism as a threat to their power. The human voice is one of the most powerful weapons in defence of human rights and against tyranny, and the writers whose work will be profiled on November 15 have paid a very high price for their courage including:

 

Chinese poet Zhu Yufu was imprisoned for seven years last December, charged with ‘inciting subversion of state power’. The charges reportedly relate to a poem he wrote, as well as other online writings, interviews he gave to foreign media and donations he collected on behalf of families of people jailed for their pro-democracy and human rights activities.

 

Turkish human rights lawyer and writer Muharrem Erbey has been held in prison since 2009 charged with having links with the illegal PKK. Muharrem Erbey is a writer and columnist and member of the Kurdish Writers’ Association.

 

On 02 September Iranian journalist and women’s rights activist Jila Baniyaghoob began a one year prison term because of her work as a journalist and human rights campaigner, documenting the post-election demonstrations in Iran, and state violence.  Her husband, and fellow journalist, Bahman Ahmadi Amou’i is also in prison because of his work as editor of a leading business magazine.

 

Writers, journalists and poets often force us to confront the reality of the world we live in. They challenge the myths and the self-aggrandising propaganda to expose the truth – the violence and the repression that is inflicted on a daily basis on those who refuse to remain silent in the face of injustice.

 The Imprisoned Writer; readings with Brian Keenan and Nuala Ní Dhomhnaill, takes place at 5.15pm in Temple Bar’s New Theatre, with light refreshments served in Connolly Books afterwards. This is a co-event with Front Line Defenders, a Dublin-based international organisation dedicated to protecting human rights defenders at risk, people who work, non-violently, for any or all of the rights enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. 

Eventbrite Link for this event is at : http://theimprisonedwriter.eventbrite.com/


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PEN International Women Writer's Committee ; a Letter to President Putin.

President Vladimir Putin

President of the Russian Federation

Re. Maria Alyokhina and Nadezhda Tolokonnikova

Your Excellency,

The Women Writers Committee of PEN International, the largest worldwide association of writers with centers in over 100 countries, continues to be extremely concerned about our jailed Russian colleagues, Maria Alyokhina and Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, members of the Pussy Riot band who are still incarcerated. We welcome the release of Ekaterina Samusevich.

Artists, governmental and religious leaders have all spoken out against the harsh treatment these women received after a protest in the Moscow Cathedral which did no damage. They were convicted of hooliganism and sentenced to two years imprisonment, after being held in jail for many months without trial. What has happened to them is completely inconsistent with a healthy society that permits freedom of expression.

We continue to call for the immediate release of Maria Alyokhina and Nadezhda Tolokonnikova.

Sincerely,

Ekbal Baraka

Chair, PEN International Women Writers Committee

 

Address

 

You can send messages to President Putin on the Kremlin website

http://eng.letters.kremlin.ru/

 

Or by mail:

 

President Vladimir Putin

President of the Russian Federation

23, Ilyinka Street,
Moscow, 103132

Russia

 

You may find that the Russian ambassador in your own country is more likely to respond to your appeals, so we recommend that you either write to him or her directly or send a copy of your appeal. You can find the Russian embassy in your country here.

 

Messages of solidarity to the prisoners can be sent via the FreePussyRiot website:www.freepussyriot.org

 

For further information please contact Sara Whyatt at PEN International Writers in Prison Committee of PEN International, Brownlow House, 50-51 High Holborn, London WC1V 6ER Tel: +44 (02) 20 7405 0338 Fax: +44 (0) 20 74050339 Email: sara.whyatt@pen-international.org

 

 

Sara Whyatt | Deputy Director | Sous-Directeur | Sub-Directora | PEN International

t.             +44 (0)20 7405 0338       | m.             +44 (0)7824640527       | e. Twitter | Facebook | www.pen-international.org

 

International PEN Congress 2012

PEN Members from over 80 countries around the world gather for prominent literary gathering– The 78th PEN International Congress

 The following report on the 78th PEN International Congress is by J. Anthony Gaughan:

The 78th Pen International Congress was held in Gyeongju, South Korea, from 9 to 15 September 2012.  Eighty centres from around the world were represented at the Congress.  The 300 delegates were formally welcomed by Gil-Won Lee, president of Korean Pen.

In his key-note address John Ralston Saul emphasised the crucial role of Pen in defending and safe-guarding freedom of expression, the well-spring of democracy and the foremost bulwark of human rights.  The theme of theCongress was ‘Literature, media and human rights’.  In the light of the remarkable development of digital media Congress approved for distribution a ‘Declaration of Free Expression and Digital Technologies’ which deals with clear and urgent questions about the relationship between digital technologies and freedom of expression.  The Pen principles outlined in the declaration apply to the Internet, blogs, micro-blogs, social networks, email, voice-over, Internet Protocol calling and texting and electronic devices such as computers, cellular phones, smart phones, mini-computers, and tablets.

Reports were presented and discussed at the various committees: Writers for Peace Committee, Writers in Prison Committee, Women Writers’ Committee and Translation and Linguistic Rights Committee.  The reports to the Writers for Peace Committee covered the well-known areas of conflict around the world.  Some were quite enlightening and provided a much more complex picture of these areas than that presented by the Western media outlets. 

The Writers in Prison Committee had to hand on updated list of writers who during the past year had been killed, imprisoned or otherwise victimised for campaigning for and exercising freedom of expression and for their attempts to expose corruption in autocratic regimes of the left and the right.  The steps Pen had taken to assist them was discussed and how efforts to this end could be made more effective.  Resolutions and recommendations advocating the lifting of laws banning freedom of expression and requesting the release of journalists and writers in prison for defending human rights and the exercise of free speech were passed and forwarded to the authorities in Belarus, China, Cuba, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Honduras, Iran, Mexico, Puerto Rico, Syria and Vietnam. 

Reports to the Women Writers’ Committee highlighted the continuing appalling plight of women in Islamic countries.  An unusual issue – the proposed international standardisation of the Portuguese language – was brought before the Translation and Linguistic Rights Committee.  This concerned a project by the Portuguese government to fundamentally reform the Portuguese language.  Their stated aim is to make the language more amenable to use in the electronic media and to make it more user-friendly to those speaking it in countries beyond Portugal, such as Brazil, East Timor, Mozambique etc.  Portuguese academics, scholars and writers strongly oppose the project arguing that it will lead to an unacceptable redaction of the language.  After a number of informative presentations the Pen Committee guaranteed its support for their stand.

John Ralston Saul was elected to serve as president for another three years.  The financial statement which indicated a significant credit balance was passed.  It was announced that the next Congress would be held next September at Reykjavik, in Iceland.

PEN International press Release on the 78th PEN International Congress

Gyeongju, Korea– Over 300 delegates have gathered in Korea’s historical city Gyeongju for the 78th PEN International Congress. The Congress was launched by host centre President Gil-Won Lee, which this year explores themes around Literature, Media and Human Rights.

PEN’s diverse and unique community of writers and members gather each year to share ideas, discuss new campaigns and initiatives,highlight emerging issues and challenges to freedom of expression around the world.

The Congress will see keynote speeches by Nobel Laureates , Wole Soyinka and Jean Marie Gustave Le Clezio as well as training sessions and workshops, lectures, literary events and networking sessions. The annual congress is an opportunity for members from all centers to share their diverse expertise and experience.

In his opening speech, PEN International President John Ralston Saul echoed the core purpose of PEN around the world:

 “Through all of [our] work we must constantly remindourselves that our cause is literature.  Literature and freedom of expression are neither a nicety nor a legal technicality.  They are a way of imagining  the relationship between peoples.  Between people.  People who may disagree or dislike each other or, in fact, know nothing about each other.”

 At the opening Ceremony, PEN International announced its Declaration on Free Expression and Digital Technologies, which will address concerns around digital technology, particularly freedom of expression through digital media.

 PEN plays a global role in promoting literature and protecting freedom of expression.

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 globalsolidarity and cooperation. PEN International is a non-political organizationand holds consultative status at the United Nations and UNESCO.

For press and other enquiries please contact:
PEN International Campaigns & Communications Manager Sahar Halaimzai.
Email: Sahar.Halaimzai@pen-international.org
Tel: +44 (0)20 7405 0338
Mob: +44 (0)7596 767912

Update on the review of the Copyright legislation by the Copyright Review Committee

“An independent Copyright Review Committee was established on 9 May, 2011 to examine the existing Irish copyright and legislative framework to identify any areas that might be deemed to create barriers to innovation and to make recommendations to resolve any problems identified.

The Review Committee conducted an initial consultation during the summer of 2011 and received in the region of 100 submissions from a broad spectrum of interested parties.  The Review Committee published a comprehensive discussion document on 29 February, 2012 which examined the current copyright legislative framework and sets out the issues and concerns which were expressed in the aforementioned submissions.  A public meeting was held on 24th March 2012.

In its discussion document the Committee identified various options to address these concerns in the light of its Terms of Reference and raised a number of key questions for consideration.

Further submissions were invited from all those affected or concerned by the issues raised including information providers and ISPs, innovators, rights-holders, consumers and end-users. The deadline for the receipt of submissions in response to this consultation was 29 June, 2012 (this deadline was extended on two separate occasions i.e. from 13April and 31 May as a result of a large number of requests for extensions). The Review Committee has received in the region of 180 submissions in response to the consultation.  The Department are currently in the process of publishing these submissions on the Copyright Review website and they can be viewed at the following link: http://www.djei.ie/science/ipr/crc_submissions2.htm

These submissions are being evaluated by the Review Committee and a final Report will be prepared setting out any recommendations for legislative change, including change at EU level, if required.” Published Department of  Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation , 30/07/2012.

EDIT , Irish TImes 31/07/2012

“CHANGES TO the Irish copyright regime could facilitate innovation and still ensure rights holders are rewarded for their ideas, Facebook has said in its submission to a body examining copyright issues for the Government.

The social networking company told the Copyright Review Committee that its operations in Ireland had not been “materially inhibited” by Irish copyright law.

However, it said there were lessons to be learned from the US regime in relation to issues such as protecting service providers from liability for content posted by their users and that exceptions provided for in the Irish copyright regime should be more flexible.”  http://www.irishtimes.com/newspaper/ireland/2012/0731/1224321155510.html

 

For a list of submissions and information regarding the submissions process, the headings of the review, and issues pertinent to rights-holders,  please visit the following link , http://www.djei.ie/press/2012/20120730.htm#.UBZcdWSZzH4.twitter

For further information please contact:

Press Office, Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, 01 6312200, press.office@djei.ie.

 

 

News: MEXICO G20 – Open Letter to Journalists

The G20 Summit will take place in Mexico on the 18 and 19 June 2012. PEN International has written an open letter to journalists covering the event. We ask them, that in the course of their reporting, they raise the issue of the violence suffered by journalists and writers in Mexico, and of the impunity enjoyed by those who commit these crimes.

Please see the text of the letter below. A PDF copy is available here: Mexico G20 eng pdf

G20 Summit, Mexico, 18-19 June 2012:
An Open Letter to Journalists and Writers

Dear Colleagues,

We write to you on behalf of PEN International, the global writers and free expression organisation with over 100 centres worldwide.

We ask you, as fellow journalists and writers, to remember your murdered and disappeared Mexican colleagues when you report on this year’s G20 Summit in Mexico.

Mexico is one of the most dangerous countries in the world in which to practise journalism. Since 2000, more than 80 writers, journalists and bloggers have been killed in connection to their work, and another 15 have disappeared. Many of these journalists reported on organized crime and corruption; few of their deaths have been investigated properly. There have been only a handful of convictions.

Despite the introduction of two mechanisms aimed at protecting journalists under threat, and the creation, in 2006, of the office of the Special Prosecutor for Crimes Against Freedom of Expression, the rate at which journalists are being killed has increased rather than diminished.

In the first six months of 2012, seven writers have been murdered.

The almost 100% impunity enjoyed by those who kill or threaten journalists in Mexico owes much of its existence to the corruption and inertia that are so prevalent throughout the Mexican states. Police and employees of local administrations are often implicated in attacks on journalists, and, as the Special Prosecutor for Crimes Against Freedom of Expression publicly recognised in March 2012, threats to journalists’ right to free expression often come directly from the state authorities themselves.

In January, the International President and the International Secretary of PEN International led a delegation to Mexico comprising writers from our North American, European and Asian PEN centres, to raise international awareness of the violence suffered there by writers and journalists. The delegation met with, among others, the Mayor of Mexico City, the Minister of the Interior, the Special Prosecutor for Crimes against Freedom of Expression and the President of the Senate.

The PEN delegation called for an end to the climate of impunity, and on the Mexican Senate to approve an amendment to the Constitution that would make all attacks on journalists federal crimes. This amendment was passed in March 2012; it now needs to be approved by a majority of the states for it to become law.

However, Mexico’s commitment to freedom of expression will not be measured by legislation, but by a reduction in the number of attacks on journalists and writers, by the prosecution and conviction of those responsible for these crimes, and by tackling corruption.

PEN International asks you – in an act of solidarity with your murdered and disappeared colleagues – to raise the issue of Mexico’s climate of impunity in your coverage of the G20 summit in June.

Yours Sincerely,

John Ralston Saul
International President

Hori Takeaki
International Secretary

Marian Botsford Fraser
Chair of the Writers in Prison Committee

Press Contacts:
John Ralston Saul, International President, 00 1 416-964-2313
Cathal Sheerin 00 44 (0)20 7405 0338

This post is also available in: French, Spanish