The fundamental human rights are not open for negotiation. But what do we do when a democracy starts to legalize torture? Larry Siems, writer and the Director of Freedom to Write and International Programs at PEN American Center in New York, discusses in this text how USA legalised torture after 9/11.
How would Americans feel if we learned our government had secretly allowed a foreign government to violate some of our most basic laws and fundamental principles on American soil? Shouldn’t we be just as outraged to know our government conspired to violate those laws and principles abroad? That it did so in secret no longer absolves us: plenty of the record is public now; now we know. And with Poland’s former spy chief under indictment for facilitating the CIA’s torture, and with similar investigations under way in several other countries, we, and the world, will soon know more.
“So on May 3rd this year, PEN champions the rights of all people to freedom of expression in digital media. We’re currently working on the PEN International Digital Media Declaration, which, once approved by PEN centres, will form the basis for campaigning worldwide. Here are some of the principles we’re working on: •All persons have the right to express themselves freely through digital media without fear of reprisal or persecution.
•All persons have the right to seek and receive information through digital media.
•All persons have the right to be free from government surveillance of digital media.
•The private sector, and technology companies in particular, are bound by the right to freedom of expression and human rights.
The message remains the same; it’s only the medium that changes.”
PEN American Center submitted a brief to the United Nations on the climate for free expression in Bahrain. You can read a summary of NGO stakeholder submissions—including PEN’s submission—here.
WASHINGTON, 4 May (IPS) - Citing growing violence and polarisation along sectarian lines, human rights groups and independent experts here are urging Washington to exert more pressure on the government of Bahrain to free political prisoners and launch a serious dialogue with its opposition on major democratic reforms.
PEN International deeply saddened by the death of Thomas von Vegesack, publisher, writer and free speech activist.
“Thomas von Vegesack, writer, intellectual and Vice President of PEN International, who died on 9th May 2012, will be remembered by all at PEN for his outstanding contribution to literature and the defence of free expression. A Swedish publisher and writer, he was Chair of Swedish PEN 1978-87 and Chair of PEN International’s Writers in Prison Committee 1987-92. He was passionate about PEN and gave a huge amount to us both within Sweden and internationally. By his friends and colleagues, he was valued and esteemed for his unwaveringly loyal and courageous commitment to freedom of expression.”
Black robe, golden epaulettes All parishioners crawl to bow The phantom of liberty is in heaven Gay-pride sent to Siberia in chains
Today, 24 May, three members of the Russian Punk band, Pussy Riot, will have been detained for over eleven weeks, and will not be freed for at least another month, although the signs are that they are likely to be held much longer… To enable better understanding of the case, we are publishing a translation of the Punk Moleben and its context.
Stressing concerns of human rights groups about the deterioration of press conditions under the administration of President Rafael Correa, 17 members of the United Nations submitted recommendations to Ecuador on freedom of expression issues before the U.N. Human Rights Council this week. While Ecuador tried to pass off the criticism as resulting from ignorance, the states’ observations made clear that the international community is fully aware of Correa’s repressive tactics against the local media.
CPJ, together with PEN International and Fundamedios, an Ecuadoran press freedom organization, submitted a report for consideration before the U.N. Human Rights Council.
Book Expo America (BEA) kicks off on June 4th at the Javits Center, and Russia is both this year’s guest of honor and the focus of BEA’s Global Forum. In association with BEA and sponsored by Russia’s Federal Agency for Press and Mass Communication, Read Russia 2012 will present a week-long “showcase” of Russian literary and book arts in various locations throughout Manhattan, Brooklyn, and Queens. Read Russia 2012 offers opportunities outside BEA to meet and engage with a new generation of Russian literary leaders and newsmakers. More than 50 contemporary Russian writers and publishers will arrive in New York during festival week, among them such writers and journalists as Dmitry Bykov, Sergei Lukyanenko, Vladimir Makanin, Edward Radzinsky, Master Chen, and Mikhail Shishkin…You can read the introduction to the Read Russia Anthology by PEN Translation Committee member Antonina Bouis here.