PEN on Twitter

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fictionthatmatters:

Freedom of the Press: in the Middle East, widely curtailed and often violated
““The media – old and new, local and international has paid a heavy price for its sustained and courageous efforts to inform local and international populations about the political upheavals in the Middle East.” These comments from Fateh Azzam, Head of the UN Human Rights regional office in the Middle East, on World Press Freedom Day, acknowledge the vital role played by the media in covering events as they have unfolded in the Middle East.”
(via Freedom of the Press: in the Middle East, widely curtailed and often violated)

fictionthatmatters:

Freedom of the Press: in the Middle East, widely curtailed and often violated

“The media – old and new, local and international has paid a heavy price for its sustained and courageous efforts to inform local and international populations about the political upheavals in the Middle East.” These comments from Fateh Azzam, Head of the UN Human Rights regional office in the Middle East, on World Press Freedom Day, acknowledge the vital role played by the media in covering events as they have unfolded in the Middle East.”

(via Freedom of the Press: in the Middle East, widely curtailed and often violated)

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We believe that the decision to resume arms shipments to the government of Bahrain without tangible evidence of progress in restoring and protecting human rights sends the wrong message to the Bahraini people and the international community—namely that the U.S. will privilege national security over documented human rights violations. That is surely not the message the administration wishes to project in the region.
PEN American Center, in our letter to Secretary of State Clinton on the resumption of arms shipments to Bahrain
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fictionthatmatters:

After riots, art is testing the boundaries of free expression in the new Tunisia

Over the past month, many artists in Tunisia have found themselves at the forefront of a battle between ultra-orthodox Salafist Muslims and the largely urban creative class critical of them. After decades of living in the secular-but-censored totalitarian state of Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali, post-revolutionary Tunisia is struggling to find the balance between recognizing free expression as a pillar of a fledgling republic and acquiescing to the newly vocal minority of conservative Muslims that, after years of religious oppression, are loathe to accept any attack on their faith. And the government seems to be failing the test. 

Above: Posters by Tunisian graffiti artist Electro Jaye
(via ARTINFO: Following Tunisia’s Art Fair Riots, Artists Speak Out About the Escalating Attacks on Free Speech)

fictionthatmatters:

After riots, art is testing the boundaries of free expression in the new Tunisia

Over the past month, many artists in Tunisia have found themselves at the forefront of a battle between ultra-orthodox Salafist Muslims and the largely urban creative class critical of them. After decades of living in the secular-but-censored totalitarian state of Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali, post-revolutionary Tunisia is struggling to find the balance between recognizing free expression as a pillar of a fledgling republic and acquiescing to the newly vocal minority of conservative Muslims that, after years of religious oppression, are loathe to accept any attack on their faith. And the government seems to be failing the test. 

Above: Posters by Tunisian graffiti artist Electro Jaye

(via ARTINFO: Following Tunisia’s Art Fair Riots, Artists Speak Out About the Escalating Attacks on Free Speech)

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BAHRAIN: Sentences upheld against jailed human rights defenders, writers and bloggers.       

PEN International’s Writers in Prison Committee protests the continuous detention of activists and bloggers including Abdulhadi Al-Khawaja and Dr. Abduljalil Al-Singace  after the High Court of Appeal in Bahrain upheld on 4 September 2012 their life sentences for their peaceful opposition activities. It calls for their immediate and unconditional release, along with all those currently detained in Bahrain for the peaceful exercise of their opinions, and urges a full and independent investigation into allegations that they were tortured in pre-trial detention. It reminds the Bahraini authorities of their obligations to protect the right to freedom of expression as guaranteed by Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Bahrain is a signatory.

On 4 September 2012, the High Court of Appeal in Bahrain confirmed the convictions of 13 human rights defenders, bloggers and activists serving time in prison and the 7 tried in absentia. Human rights defender Abdulhadi Al-Khawaja and academic, blogger and human rights activist Dr. Abduljalil Al-Singace had been sentenced by a special security court on 22 June 2011 to life for their peaceful activities.

According to PEN’s information, leading lawyers who observed the appeal pointed out several legal violations during the appeal such as the fact that not all of the defense witnesses were heard; the confessions that were extracted under torture were not dismissed; and the last few hearings were held in secrecy, with a gag order on the press.

On 28 September 2011, the military-run National Safety Court of Appeal had confirmed the convictions of 14human rights activists and bloggers including  Dr Abduljalil Al-Singace and Abdulhadi Al-Khawaja, and upheld their sentences of life imprisonment. They are believed to be targeted for calling for political reform and for their reporting on human rights abuses in the country.

For more information please see the WiPC update on a trial observation mission for the case and for more on Bahrain and a joint action on the case signed by over 100 organisations including PEN International, please click here.

RECOMMENDED ACTION

Please send appeals:

  • Calling for the immediate release of Dr Abduljalil Al-Singace and Abdulhadi Al-Khawaja  and all prisoners of conscience in Bahrain;
  • Protesting the decision by the High Court of Appeal in Bahrain to uphold the harsh sentences against Dr Abduljalil Al-Singace and Abdulhadi Al-Khawaja and others solely for peacefully exercising their right to free expression;
  • Demanding a full independent investigation into allegations that both men have been tortured and ill-treated in detention;
  • Urging the Bahraini authorities to abide by their obligations under Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), and calling for the immediate and unconditional release of all those currently detained in Bahrain solely for the peaceful expression their opinions, including Dr Al-Singace and Abdulhadi Al-Khawaja.

Send appeals to:

His Majesty Sheikh Hamad bin Issa Al-Khalifa 

King of Bahrain

Office of His Majesty the King

P.O.Box 555

Rifa’a Palace

Kingdom of Bahrain.
Fax: +973 176 64 587 

Sheikh Khalid bin Ali Al-Khalifa
Minister of Justice and Islamic Affairs

Ministry of Justice and Islamic Affairs

P.O.Box 450

Al-Manama

Bahrain.
Fax: +973 175 31 284