Charlie Hebdo: World Press Freedom Day
Since the January 7th attack on Charlie Hebdo in Paris, eleven interior ministers from countries in the European Union (including France, Britain and Germany) have called on Internet service providers to remove online content ‘that aims to incite hatred and terror’. In response, PEN centres around the world have issued a declaration calling on governments to uphold their international obligations to protect freedom of expression and freedom of speech. The declaration, timed to coincide with World Press Freedom Day (marked on May 1st) called for governments to create a safe environment for the exercising of rights of authors and journalists. Signatories to the declaration called for particular attention to be placed on threats to freedom of expression in the form of governments restricting freedoms in the name of terrorism and security. The full declaration can be viewed at http://www.pen-international.org/newsitems/not-in-our-name-world-press-freedom-day-116-days-after-charlie-hebdo/.
PEN: Focus on the Future
PEN (NZ) was recently asked to nominate three top issues for PEN International to focus on in the upcoming years. The issues identified as needing priority attention were;
1. The arbitrary imprisonment of writers for exercising their right to freedom of expression
2. Combatting the use of trumped-up criminal charges to restrict the right to freedom of expression
3. Combatting impunity for killing writers
Other issues- such as how freedom of expression will respond to particular forms of ‘hate speech’- are also looming on the horizon. PEN International will collate responses from PEN centres around the world and use this as a guide to planning for the future challenges to freedom of speech worldwide.
Sadism or Satire?: Rethinking Freedom of Speech after Charlie Hebdo
The limits of freedom of speech after Charlie Hebdo will be explored in a lunchtime seminar hosted by the Top of the South branch of the New Zealand Society of Authors. PEN (NZ) Representative, Dana Wensley, will be discussing freedom of speech following allegations that Charlie Hebdo crossed the line between satire and sadism. PEN’s historical interest in representing writers will be examined, and its direction for the future explored. Further information at: http://www.topwriters.co.nz/coming-events.html
Write Against Impunity: PEN
Writers in Latin America have joined forces to protest the killing of journalists, writers, poets, and bloggers in the region. The resulting work, Write Against Impunity, is a diverse offering from respected writers such as Luisa Valenzuela, Gioconda Belli, and Sergio Ramirez. Write Against Impunity crosses a numbers of genres, and includes poetry, stories, and essays. The unifying link between all authors is their shared solidarity with writers under attack in the region. In May, PEN concluded a sixteen centre summit (PEN Summit of the Americas) to highlight the grave dangers to writers in Latin America. An open letter from John Ralston Saul (International PEN President) to all PEN members detailing the event and other PEN activities is available here.
China: Governments Make Bad Editors
PEN’s American Center has released a new report on censorship in China. The report, Censorship and Conscience: Foreign Authors and the Challenge of Chinese Censorship, highlights China’s censorship programs, and aims to increase awareness of the freedom of expression violations in China. The Committee to Protect Journalists reports at least 44 writers currently in prison. Using the slogan, ‘Governments Make Bad Editors’ the campaign includes a ‘Shadow Expo’ during BookExpo America to counter state sponsored propaganda in China. more
PEN LGBTQI Resolution: Pen-Outwrite
PEN has launched an online platform featuring writers and short films from LGBTQI (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer and Intersex) communities and writers around the world: www.pen-outwrite.org/pen-outwrite Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights protects the right to free expression. PEN believes that sexual and gender minorities’ right to freedom of expression should be universally respected and protected by governments as part of their international obligations. more
For further information on PEN or any issues or concerns raised above please contact Dana Wensley, PEN Representative for NZ at PEN@nzauthors.org.nz