BANNED BOOK WEEK: INTO THE RIVER
Banned Book Week is celebrated internationally this year from September 27th to October 3rd. The week has special resonance in New Zealand since the dates coincide with the interim ban of Into the River by Ted Dawe. Updates on the interim ban can be found on the Office of Film and Literature Classification website. The Classification Office has received correspondence about the ban and will be making submissions to the Film and Literature Board of Review. The decision on the interim ban is to be made by the Film and Literature Board of Review in October. The Board has issued separate advice about the interim ban. PEN (NZ) encourages correspondence to be directed directly to the Film and Literature Board of Review. Background material and a case study of the history of classification in relation to Into the River can be viewed here. PEN also contributes to Banned Book Week internationally. Librarians, teachers, writers, and students can access more information about banned books including information about censorship around the world here.
INTERNATIONAL TRANSLATION DAY: 30th SEPTEMBER
30th September is International Translation Day. This year PEN International marks the day by calling on PEN Centres around the world to translate the poem The Scourge of War by imprisoned Eritrean editor-in-chief and award-winning poet, Amanuel Asrat, into local languages. The poem, translated into English, is reprinted here. Please take time to mark International Translation Day by reading the words of one of our fellow writers.
Journalist Mohamed Fahey released from prison...
Canadian journalist Mohamed Fahmy has been pardoned by Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi.
Fahmy worked for Al-Jazeera and was sentenced to three years in prison on August 29th following an unsuccessful appeal on terrorism-related charges.
Click here for background material on Mohamed Fahmy and the other two journalists sentenced with him.
Into the River
The interim ban of Into the River has renewed interest in freedom of speech in New Zealand. Freedom of speech is an issue that is constantly with us. It is a complex issue, that in New Zealand operates within the legal context of the Films, Video, and Publications Classification Act 1993. A point I endeavoured to highlight in my opinion piece published in the New Zealand Herald which can be viewed here.
In a country which ranks 6th in world press freedom, and in which many authors experience a freedom to write that (until now) has been taken for granted, the ban reminds us that we need to be vigilant in supporting writers and the goals of PEN.
PEN (NZ) works to support writers both within NZ, and beyond our borders. The Writers in Prison Committee of PEN monitors between 700 -900 cases globally of writers imprisoned for their work each year.
This year PEN(NZ) endeavored to gain support for writers, such as Aron Atabek, currently serving a prison term for writing The Heart of Eurasia.
We issued requests for 'empty chairs' at literary events, and support for writers and freedom of speech for Courage Day (what we in New Zealand call the day known internationally as the Day of the Imprisoned Writer) held on 15th November.
In the upcoming weeks, as the Film and Literature Board of Review considers its ban, let’s take time to remember the bloggers in Bangladesh, the journalists in Nauru, and the 1144 journalists killed since 1992 (statistics provided by the Committee for Protection of Journalists).
Any restriction on freedom of speech is a concern for PEN. Let’s hope this renewed interest following Into the River mobilises support for PEN and its activities both in NZ and globally.
PEN (NZ) is a voluntary limb of the New Zealand Society of Authors, and anyone wanting to become involved and offer assistance is greatly appreciated.
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