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PEN International’s Cathal Sheerin on the G20 Summit
Last week, PEN International, the global writers’ and free expression organisation, published an open letter addressed to all journalists who will be covering the G20 summit on 18-19 June. We asked them, in the course of their reporting, to raise the issue of the violence suffered by journalists and the impunity enjoyed by those who commit these crimes.
PEN International has long campaigned for changes to Mexican law in order to better protect journalists and writers. Earlier this month, a long-awaited law that would make all attacks on journalists federal crimes was finally approved.
(via PEN.org » Blog Archive PEN International’s Cathal Sheerin on the G20 Summit - PEN.org)

PEN International’s Cathal Sheerin on the G20 Summit

Last week, PEN International, the global writers’ and free expression organisation, published an open letter addressed to all journalists who will be covering the G20 summit on 18-19 June. We asked them, in the course of their reporting, to raise the issue of the violence suffered by journalists and the impunity enjoyed by those who commit these crimes.

PEN International has long campaigned for changes to Mexican law in order to better protect journalists and writers. Earlier this month, a long-awaited law that would make all attacks on journalists federal crimes was finally approved.

(via PEN.org » Blog Archive PEN International’s Cathal Sheerin on the G20 Summit - PEN.org)

It is encouraging to see that Mexican President Felipe Calderón has signed a new law to protect journalists. It’s the second major step the Mexican government has taken in recent weeks to address the appalling violence against journalists in Mexico, and it is part of a package of reforms that PEN pressed in meetings with government officials in Mexico City in January.

Click here to read more

Photo by archer10 on a Creative Commons License

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Check out this video of PEN’s January delegation to Mexico, in which over 50 Mexican and international writers spoke out against the killing of journalists.

27 January 2012. PEN International today published a full-page ad in El Universal signed by 170 of the world’s leading writers declaring solidarity with Mexican writers and journalists. This is part of the PEN Protesta! international PEN delegation to Mexico which comprises events and high-level lobbying of the Mexican authorities.

(Source: google.com)

From the PEN Archives:
State of Emergency: Censorship by Bullet in Mexico

With readings by Paul Auster, Calvin Baker, Don DeLillo, Laura Esquivel, Francine Prose, Jose Zamora, and poets Víctor Manuel Mendiola and Luis Miguel Aguilar, and a conversation with Carmen Aristegui (CNN en Español), Rocio Gallegos (El Diario de Juárez), and José Luis Martínez (Milenio Diario); moderated by Julia Preston (The New York Times)

What is the impact of soaring drug-related violence on freedom of expression and civil society in Mexico? Is the United States helping to promote or to counter the violence? What can human rights organizations and the international community do to confront criminal syndicates and other “non-state actors” that are operating with impunity in Mexico and around the world? Above all, what is it like to be a journalist in Mexico today, and what must be done to ensure that journalists can safely carry out their work?

Co-presented by PEN American Center, the PEN Club de México, and the Committee to Protect Journalists. Co-sponsored by The Cooper Union and the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.

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On 15th November 2012, PEN International, the worldwide association of writers, marks the 31st Annual Day of the Imprisoned Writer, an international day to recognise and support writers at risk. Each year, for the past 31 years, PEN Centres around the globe have commemorated the Day of the Imprisoned Writer, to raise awareness of the unjust imprisonment and persecution of writers around the world.

This year PEN International is highlighting cases from Iran, Philippines, Mexico, Turkey and Ethiopia. These cases are emblematic of the kinds of persecution faced by many writers and journalists worldwide in carrying out their basic right to free expression:

Shiva Nazar Ahari (Iran): journalist, writer and human rights activist who was sentenced to four years in prison for her writings and advocacy.
Ericson Acosta (Philippines): a poet, songwriter and activist who has been held without trial since February 2011 on charges which appear to be linked to his writings on human rights and environmental issues.
Regina Martinez (Mexico): correspondent for an investigative news magazine who was murdered in Xalapa, Veracruz State, in April 2012, most likely because of her reporting on organised crime and corruption.
Muharrem Erbey (Turkey): human rights lawyer, writer and Vice-President of the Human Rights Association (IHD), imprisoned under the Anti-Terror Law since December 2009 on charges of “membership of an illegal organization”, charges that appear to be linked to his work as a human rights defender.
Eskinder Nega (Ethiopia): journalist and blogger convicted to 18 years in prison on dubious terrorism related charges, clearly levied as punishment for his reporting on government human rights abuses.
Marian Botsford Fraser, Chair of the WiPC, is in Istanbul this week with a high level delegation of 20 people from nine centres, joining colleagues in PEN Turkey in readings of poetry and prose honouring writers at risk around the world.

Read more

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Sobering info-graphic on the human cost of the Mexican Drug War- fueled in large part by US demand for cocaine- which has yielded, since December 2006, an estimated 60,000 deaths.

Over 1,000 of those killed have been children.

PEN International Statement on First Official Meeting with Attorney General of Mexico
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Silence Grows in Mexico
'They stole our dreams': blogger reveals cost of reporting Mexico's drug wars

For three years it has chronicled Mexico’s drug war with graphic images and shocking stories that few others dare show, drawing millions of readers, acclaim, denunciations – and speculation about its author’s identity.
Blog del Narco, an internet sensation dubbed a “front-row seat” to Mexico’s agony over drugs, has become a must-read for authorities, drug gangs and ordinary people because it lays bare, day after day, the horrific violence censored by the mainstream media.
The anonymous author has been a source of mystery, with Mexico wondering who he is and his motivation for such risky reporting.
Now in their first major interview since launching the blog, the author has spoken to the Guardian and the Texas Observer – and has revealed that she is, in fact, a young woman.
"I don’t think people ever imagined it was a woman doing this," said the blogger, who asked to use pseudonym Lucy to protect her real identity.
"Who am I? I’m in my mid-20s, I live in northern Mexico, I’m a journalist. I’m a woman, I’m single, I have no children. And I love Mexico."
She said she wanted to show the truth of what was happening to help turn the page. “I’m in love with my culture, with my country, despite all that’s going on. Because we’re not all bad. We’re not all narcos. We’re not all corrupt. We’re not all murderers. We are well educated, even if many (foreign) people think otherwise.”
She and her colleague live in daily fear of retribution, either from the cartels or government forces. She revealed that a young man and woman tortured, disembowelled and hung from a bridge in September 2011 – murders which shocked even atrocity-hardened Mexicans – were collaborators on the blog. “They used to send us photographs. That was very hard, very painful.” The threats, she said, have recently become more serious.
Despite those fears, however, Lucy has written a book that gives an inside account of the blog and provides the most gruesome, explicit account yet of the mayhem that the cartel wars have brought to Mexico. Dying for the Truth: Undercover Inside Mexico’s Violent Drug War, is now on sale in English and Spanish, and documents a full year of killings from 2010, a pivotal year.
"I did the book to show what was happening," she said. "When I finished, I was able to breathe, because I had worried about being killed before finishing. But the book is there, it’s there on paper, a testament to what we have suffered in Mexico in these years of war."

'They stole our dreams': blogger reveals cost of reporting Mexico's drug wars

For three years it has chronicled Mexico’s drug war with graphic images and shocking stories that few others dare show, drawing millions of readers, acclaim, denunciations – and speculation about its author’s identity.

Blog del Narco, an internet sensation dubbed a “front-row seat” to Mexico’s agony over drugs, has become a must-read for authorities, drug gangs and ordinary people because it lays bare, day after day, the horrific violence censored by the mainstream media.

The anonymous author has been a source of mystery, with Mexico wondering who he is and his motivation for such risky reporting.

Now in their first major interview since launching the blog, the author has spoken to the Guardian and the Texas Observer – and has revealed that she is, in fact, a young woman.

"I don’t think people ever imagined it was a woman doing this," said the blogger, who asked to use pseudonym Lucy to protect her real identity.

"Who am I? I’m in my mid-20s, I live in northern Mexico, I’m a journalist. I’m a woman, I’m single, I have no children. And I love Mexico."

She said she wanted to show the truth of what was happening to help turn the page. “I’m in love with my culture, with my country, despite all that’s going on. Because we’re not all bad. We’re not all narcos. We’re not all corrupt. We’re not all murderers. We are well educated, even if many (foreign) people think otherwise.”

She and her colleague live in daily fear of retribution, either from the cartels or government forces. She revealed that a young man and woman tortured, disembowelled and hung from a bridge in September 2011 – murders which shocked even atrocity-hardened Mexicans – were collaborators on the blog. “They used to send us photographs. That was very hard, very painful.” The threats, she said, have recently become more serious.

Despite those fears, however, Lucy has written a book that gives an inside account of the blog and provides the most gruesome, explicit account yet of the mayhem that the cartel wars have brought to Mexico. Dying for the Truth: Undercover Inside Mexico’s Violent Drug War, is now on sale in English and Spanish, and documents a full year of killings from 2010, a pivotal year.

"I did the book to show what was happening," she said. "When I finished, I was able to breathe, because I had worried about being killed before finishing. But the book is there, it’s there on paper, a testament to what we have suffered in Mexico in these years of war."