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2014 PEN Melbourne AGM – Minutes

November 30, 2014 IN WIP
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Agenda PEN Melbourne Annual General Meeting

Wednesday, November 26, 6.30pm

The Orange Room

North Fitzroy Star Hotel


Welcome to members and statement of acknowledgement and respect to Aboriginal owners and elders: Jackie Mansourian, Secretary

Minutes of 2013 AGM and Financial report presented: Jackie Mansourian  Acceptance of minutes by Rosemary Mangiamele, seconded by Carole Browne.

Statement from Christine McKenzie, President of PEN Melbourne:

  • PEN Annual report to be sent to members, rather than read out at AGM.
  • Chris expresses the importance of card writing to our writers in prison and that this offering of friendship and solidarity is at the heart of the PEN project.
  • Quote Salman Rushdie –“ literature speaks truth to power”
  • Also speaks about ABC cuts to regional stations as affecting freedom of expression.
  • Recalls the wonderful visit of Ragip Zarakolu to the 2014 MWF. His visit was enabled by the work of the Armenian community and our Jackie Mansourian. Ragip lives in Sweden, an ICORN city of refuge. When he was in prison he appreciated cards written to him by PEN Melb.
  • Acknowledges Peter Greste and his Al Jazeera colleagues who have now been in prison for almost a year.Thanks committee members for their work.
  • Reads poem from Rosa’s sister who is serving a 20 year prison sentence in Iran.

Annual Financial Report 2013-2014: Rob Cope, Treasurer

  • Annual Financial Report submitted – for a copy, see here.
  • Call out for new treasurer

New Committee 2014 – 2015: Jackie Mansourian.

  • All current roles retained. Need a new treasurer.
  • Our committee is a welcoming one. Confirmedv by newer members on the committee.

Reflections on 80th PEN International Congress: Cynthia Troup, Pen Melbourne Committee member.

  • Judith Rodriguez and Cynthia Troup attended as delegates from PEN Melb.
  • Cynthia described her experiences in Bishkek.
  • Acknowledges the simple power of a card written to a writer in prison

International Day to End Impunity 

Farewell to PEN Melbourne Treasurer. Chris thanks and presents gift to Rob.

Annual Card Writing: Cece Ojany.

  • An act of friendship and solidarity to writers who are in detention, imprisoned and persecuted for their courage to write.
  • Cece also vouches for the inclusiveness of PEN Melbourne committee and it being unlike any other organization she has worked in. She describes her role as WIP officer and leads us into the card writing part of the evening.
  • Encourages members to take part in the Rapid Action Network (RAN)
  • Janet Howie has donated beautiful cards which she has painted and designed. She is also selling them with all proceeds going to the Asylum Seekers Resource Centre.


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People say that (writers) are pretty powerless: we don’t have an army, we don’t have a bureaucracy. But if that were true, then why would writers be arrested?... Because the spoken word is powerful.

— John Ralston Saul on the work of PEN International