The Prince Claus Funds regrets that Tsering Woeser is denied the opportunity to receive the 2011 Prince Claus Award from the hands of the Dutch Ambassador in China today. Tsering Woeser is a courageous Tibetan writer whose work offers unique perspectives on the complexity of present-day Tibet. According to Christa Meindersma, director of the Prince Claus Fund: “the fact that Tsering Woeser is not free to leave her home and freely express herself, demonstrates once again the importance of her voice.”
PEN American Center today welcomed the news that Ragip Zarakolu, one of Turkey’s preeminent free expression champions, was among 15 freed from prison in Turkey pending trial, calling his release “a hopeful sign and a clear indication of the value of international attention and concern.” PEN cautioned, however, that Zarakolu still faces trial on charges that carry a heavy prison sentence and that scores of other writers and intellectuals remain imprisoned.
A thoughtful—and at times hilarious—article on the importance of free speech in the Fabrice Muamba twitter scandal. Although Liam Stacey acted like a racist goon in cheering as the soccer player suffered from cardiac arrest, the author finds that the court’s reasons for jailing him are questionable and set a dangerous precedent.
[I]t isn’t illegal to be a stupid bastard. Maybe it should be—but that would be terribly impractical. Imagine if there were an uprising against the new law? All the stupid bastards on one side, the rest of us on the other. That’s not a fight we can win. They’d be too stupid to understand the rules or too bastardy to follow them. We’d be halfway through saying: ‘OK, reach for your pistols on the count of…’ and they’d already have jabbed us in both eyes with a pencil. So, we have to allow people to be stupid bastards and hope the human race keeps evolving.
British author and poker star Victoria Coren, on how a UK court threatened free speech by jailing a Twitter user for his racist comments.
Top PEN Prize to Honor Eskinder Nega, Jailed Ethiopian Journalist and Blogger
PEN American Center today named Eskinder Nega, a journalist and dissident blogger in Ethiopia, as the recipient of its 2012 PEN/Barbara Goldsmith Freedom to Write Award. Nega, a leading advocate for press freedom and freedom of expression in Ethiopia, was arrested on September 14, 2011, and is currently being tried under the country’s sweeping anti-terror legislation, which criminalizes any reporting deemed to “encourage” or “provide moral support” to groups and causes which the government considers to be “terrorist.” He could face the death penalty if convicted.
Democracy is humanity’s common destiny. There is no avoiding it whether you are an Eskimo or a Zulu; a Christian or a Muslim; white or black; developed or developing. It is truly universal. And after a long journey, Ethiopia’s encounter with destiny is right around the corner. We are almost there.
Eskinder Nega, journalist, dissident blogger, and 2012 PEN/Barbara Goldsmith Freedom to Write Award recipient, imprisoned since September 14, 2011