Philippines: PEN International and PEN Philippines call for urgent enquiry into killing of poet Ericson Acosta

PEN International and PEN Philippines are outraged at the killing of poet, musician and activist, Ericson Acosta, and call for an urgent and transparent investigation into the circumstances surrounding his death.

On 30 November 2022, Acosta was reportedly killed during a military operation in Kabankalan, located in the province of Negros Occidental in the Philippines. The Philippine Army claimed that two bodies were found following a clash with armed communist rebels. While the military did not initially identify those deceased, the National Democratic Front Negros (NDF-N), a political umbrella group, identified one of the deceased as Ericson Acosta, claiming that he was their consultant.

The NDF-N has contested the Philippine Army’s account, claiming that Acosta and another individual were captured alive by the military who then, a “few hours after, tagged them as casualties of a fake encounter.” Following the Philippine Army’s initial announcement, it has since confirmed that Acosta was one of the two killed.

The contested claims around the circumstances of Acosta’s death raise significant concerns surrounding potential violations of international humanitarian law, which prohibits the summary killing of civilians in custody or captured combatants. Following news of the killings, religious leaders and human rights groups have called for an investigation.

On the basis of the Philippine government’s international and constitutional human rights obligations, PEN International and PEN Philippines call for an urgent and transparent investigation into the circumstances surrounding Acosta’s death.


Ericson Acosta lived as a poet, journalist, musician, and activist. A former entertainment editor for the Manila Times, Acosta was also heavily involved in theatre, having directed several plays, including “Monumento”, which he also wrote. He was also a dedicated environmental activist who carried out research in support of farmers facing land seizures and other issues affecting their livelihoods.

In February 2011, Acosta was detained while carrying out field research on suspicion of being a member of the New People’s Army and was later charged with illegal possession of explosives. He was imprisoned for almost two years until the Department of Justice dismissed the case against him in January 2013, stating that the charges against him were baseless. During his detention, PEN International and PEN Centres around the world campaigned for his release.

While he was imprisoned, Acosta maintained a prison diary called the “Jailhouse Blog” containing poems, essays and sketches detailing his time in detention. He also continued to write songs, with over three volumes of music recorded during his detention and published online as “The Prison Sessions”.

Following his release, Acosta published a collection of his poetry, titled “Mula Tarima Hanggang at iba pang mga Tula at Awit”, which focuses on the struggle for social justice in the Philippines. In 2016, his poetry collection was awarded the “Best Book of Poetry in Filipino” at the 35th Philippine National Book Awards.

Albanese Hansard, PEN M response &Jennifer Robinson at Press Club: TRANSCRIPT



“I have raised this personally with representatives of the United States government. My position is clear and has been made clear to the US administration that it is time that this matter be brought to a close. This is an Australian citizen.” – Prime Minister Albanese.

Yesterday in Parliament, Prime Minister Anthony Albanese answered a question from the Member for Kooyong, Dr Monique Ryan regarding the Australian publisher and WikiLeaks co-founder, Julian Assange.

Below are quotes, attributable to members of Julian Assange’s family and the Assange Campaign Australian legal advisors, in response to Prime Minister Albanese’s statement yesterday.

Quote from John Shipton, father of Julian Assange:
“Prime Minister Albanese, in representations to the White House, stands firmly with citizens of Australia and the great newspapers of the world: The New York Time, The Guardian, Der Spiegel, Le Monde and El Pais.”

“Drop the charges. Return Julian home. We now get to see Australia’s standing in Washington, valued ally or not.”

Quote from Gabriel Shipton, brother of Julian Assange:
“Finally the Prime Minister has publicly called for this endless persecution of Australian publisher Julian Assange to be brought to an end.”

“Australians will be keenly watching to see how the U.S. reacts and if it will respect the calls of the Australian Public and Government to show mercy to Australian citizen Julian Assange.”

Quote from Greg Barns SC – Assange Campaign Legal Advisor:
When an Australian Prime Minister raises concerns about an Australian citizen’s treatment by the U.S. it is a serious matter given the strength of the alliance between the two countries.”

“It is clear that Mr Albanese understands the injustice of the Assange case.  Australians rightly expect their government to intervene in cases where Australians are detained overseas in unjust circumstances.”
Quote from Stephen Kenny, Assange Campaign Solicitor:
“It was reassuring to hear the words of the Prime Minister. However, words need to be backed by action, and we would hope that the Prime Minister’s representation has been heard in the United States.  Action from the United States will determine if our Prime Minister has any influence in our relationship with the United States.  For Julian’s sake, I sincerely hope he does.”

“In this case, enough has been more than enough.  The imprisonment of Mr Assange has been a failure of justice, an abuse of process and should put a chill in the heart of every publisher who exposes the offences of a powerful nation. “

“The Five newspapers, The Guardian, The New York Times, Le Monde, Der Spiegel and El País, who also published the documents from Chelsea Manning, yesterday issued a joint statement saying that “publishing is not a crime”. The newspapers called for the dropping of the espionage charges against Mr Assange. They have never been prosecuted for doing exactly the same as Mr Assange.  Such a double standard should not be tolerated.”

John Shipton and Stephen Kenny meet with Minister Penny Wong at Parliament House on Monday 28 November 2022

Available for further media comment:

  • Gabriel Shipton – brother of Julian Assange
  • John Shipton – father of Julian Assange
  • Greg Barns SC – Assange Campaign Legal Advisor
  • Stephen Kenny – Assange Campaign Solicitor

Media contact:   Jodie Harrison  0425 754 370

Read the Hansard excerpt – PM’s statement yesterday



PEN Melbourne response

Wednesday 30 November 2022

RE: PM Albanese’s answer to Monique Ryan’s question about Julian Assange in Parliament today

International PEN Melbourne Centre welcomed MP Monique Ryan’s question to PM Albanese today, “Will the government intervene to bring Mr Assange home?”

PM Albanese replied “…it is time that this matter be brought to a close” and that, “My position is clear and has been made clear to the US administration”. He said that he will continue to advocate (for Julian Assange). The PM commented that while he did not have sympathy for some of Julian Assange’s actions, “You have to reach a point, whereby what is the point of continuing this legal action, which could be caught up now for many years, into the future.”


PEN Melbourne welcomes PM Albanese’s position on Julian Assange’s incarceration and urges him to continue to advocate vigorously with President Biden and the US administration his call today that ‘enough is enough’. We call on the US authorities to drop the charges against Assange and withdraw the extradition request.


PEN Melbourne, however, maintains that the charges, treatment and continued detention of Julian Assange are extraordinary and explicable only as political persecution. His mistreatment while incarcerated in the UK has been extreme, illegal, denies his human rights and is threatening his life. The legal process is being used as punishment. The political nature of the charges and illegal activities by UK and US authorities are grounds for his immediate release and for dismissing the extradition request. We therefore call on the UK government to immediately release Julian Assange from Belmarsh high security prison and to reject the extradition request.





Jennifer Robinson at the National Press Club  here is the ABC link

19 October, 2022

Today, Jennifer Robinson addressed the National Press Club in Canberra.
Jen gave an update on the ongoing persecution of Australian journalist, Julian Assange, the alarming poor state of his health and, should the US prosecution and extradition be successful, what this will mean for human rights, press freedom and the protection of whistleblowers.

Julian Assange, Free Speech and Democracy
Jennifer Robinson
Australian National Press Club, 19 October 2022

Thank you for your warm welcome and introduction, Laura.
It is a great pleasure to be with you at Australia’s National Press Club on Ngunnawal
land. I pay my respect to Ngunnawal elders past, present and emerging and to all
First Nations people here today and joining us remotely.
I’d like to also acknowledge the presence today of those who have supported Julian
and his family including
Members of the Friends of Assange Parliamentary group, Senators Peter
Whish Wilson and David Shoebridge as well as Member for Kooyong, the Hon
Dr Monique Ryan;
Bernard Collaery, whose endurance, courage and integrity inspires so many
of us;
And David McBride, the whistleblower still facing trial, who remains the only
person charged years after the Brereton Report
I have been working on Julian Assange’s defence and talking about its implications
for freedom of the press and democracy for more than a decade.
You might have heard some media soundbites from me on these themes over the
years: about the stark injustice that Julian faces 175 years in prison for committing
acts of journalism; about how the US seeks to condemn him to life in prison for the
very same publications for which he has won awards the world over including the
Walkley Award for Most Outstanding Contribution to Journalism and the Sydney
Peace Prize Medal; and that his prosecution sets a dangerous precedent for free
speech and journalists everywhere.
But having an opportunity to elaborate is rare, so my thanks to the National Press
Club for giving me this time with you today.
Im often asked how Julian is, so let me start there:
I don’t know how much longer he can last.
The world was shocked by his appearance when he was arrested in 2019.
I wasn’t.

For over 7 years, I had been watching his health decline inside the Ecuadorian
embassy where he was protecting himself from US extradition.
After years of government statements and media commentary claiming Julian was
paranoid and should just leave the embassy, some were surprised when Julian was
served with a US extradition request.
I wasn’t. It was exactly what we had been warning about for a decade.
For the past 3.5 years, Julian has been in a high security prison in London and I
have watched his health decline even further.
Then last year, during a stressful court appeal hearing, Julian had a mini stroke.
As the prosecution was deriding the medical evidence of Julian’s severe depression
and suicidal ideation and the risk to his life those with video access saw Julian in
a blue room in Belmarsh with his head in his hands.
I’ve seen Julian on some pretty bad days, but he looked terrible.
I was alarmed. And for good reason.
As it turned out, he had just had or was experiencing as we watched a mini
stroke, often the harbinger for a major stroke.
Once again, we were witnessing Julian’s health deteriorate in real time.
Julian’s wife Stella waits anxiously for the phone call she dreads. As she has said,
Julian is suffering profoundly in prison and it is no exaggeration to say he may not
survive it.
Unless a political resolution is found and this case has always been political Julian
will be detained for many years to come.
It is impossible to accurately predict the timeline, but here is a brief overview of
where we are and what the legal process ahead looks like.
After a yearlong extradition hearing process, interrupted by COVID outbreaks,
Julian won his case in early January 2021. If extradited to the US, he would be
placed under prison conditions known as Special Administrative Measures or SAMs
which has been described as the darkest black hole of the US prison system. The
magistrate ruled that Julian’s extradition would be oppressive because the medical
evidence shows that if extradited and placed under SAMs, he would suicide. So she
barred his extradition.
But the Trump administration appealed and in its last days, sought to get around
the court decision and shift the goal posts by offering an assurance that Julian would
not be placed under SAMs.

As Amnesty International has said, US assurances arent worth the paper they’re
written on.
But in Julian’s case its even worse that that because the US assurance was
conditional: the US only promised not to place him under SAMs unless they decide
he later deserves it.
And who would decide? The CIA. And he would have no right to appeal their
Before the US government appeal was heard, we learned thanks to important
investigative journalism that the CIA had planned to kidnap and kill Julian.
Yes: lets pause there for a moment.
The CIA had planned to kidnap and kill an awardwinning Australian journalist in
Again: the Central Intelligence Agency had plans in place to send someone to
London to kidnap and assassinate Julian Assange. We know this because of an
investigation based on interviews with 30 official US government sources.
And this is the intelligence agency which has the power to place Julian, once
extradited to the US, under prison conditions that doctors say would cause his
When the news broke, I thought finally this has got to end the case.
But no.
The British courts accepted the US assurance and ruled Julian could be extradited
despite these circumstances.
In June, the British Home Secretary ordered his extradition.
We have filed an appeal and we should learn soon whether the High Court will grant
permission and hear it.
If it does, we can expect a process that could take years through the High Court,
and to the UK Supreme Court. If we lose, we will appeal to the European Court of
Human Rights that is, if the conservative British government doesn’t remove its
jurisdiction before we are able to.
If our appeal fails, Julian will be extradited to the US where his prison conditions will
be at the whim of the intelligence agencies which plotted to kill him. He will face an
unfair trial and once convicted, it could take years before a First Amendment
constitutional challenge would be heard before the US Supreme Court.
Another decade of his life gone if he can survive that long.

And that is why I am here.
This case needs an urgent political solution. Julian does not have another decade to
wait for a legal fix. It might be surprising to hear me, as a lawyer, say this: but the
solution is not legal, it is political.
When you hear politicians or government officials in the UK or US or in Australia
using language like due process and rule of law this is what they are talking about.
Punishment by legal process. Bury him in neverending legal process until he dies.
In fact, there’s been very little “rule of law” or “due process” in what’s been inflicted
on Julian. As we argue in our appeal, the case has been rife with abuse.
The case against him is unprecedented it is the first time in history a publisher has
faced prosecution for journalism under the Espionage Act. And the US is going to
argue that, as an Australian citizen, Julian is not entitled to constitutional free speech
protection at all.
The UKUS extradition treaty prohibits extradition for political offences and yet the
US is purporting relying on this treaty to extradite Julian under the Espionage Act.
Espionage is a political offence.
We have seen the fabrication of evidence against him the US’ key witness in
Iceland has admitted he lied but the US continues to press charges based on his
evidence. And its indictment deliberately misrepresents the facts.
We have seen unlawful surveillance of Julian, on me personally and his lawyers, on
his medical treatment, and the seizure of legally privileged material. At the extradition
hearing, we heard evidence from Daniel Ellsberg, the revered leaker of the Pentagon
Papers. Ellsberg explained that his prosecution under the Espionage Act by the
Nixon administration was thrown out with prejudice for far less abuse than Julian
has faced. But Julian’s prosecution commenced under the Trump administration
and now continues under Biden. What does that say about our civil liberties and our
democracies in 2022?
The list of abuse goes on and on.
[take a breath…]
As a lawyer working on human rights cases, it’s important to remain focused on the
principles at stake and the work at hand. An essential part of the job is being
dispassionate and levelheaded in the face of injustice.
But it has become harder and harder over the years to remain unaffected by what
Julian is being put through as a human being and fellow Australian.
In 2019, the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture, Nils Melzer, reported his findings on
Julian’s case and concluded Julian had been subjected to torture. Years before, we
had made a complaint to Melzer’s mandate but we heard nothing back. Melzer

would later admit he had ignored our complaint because, like many, he was
prejudiced against Julian after years of government propaganda and media
coverage attacking Julian’s reputation.
But in 2019, he agreed to read our complaint. And what he read shocked him and
forced him to confront his own prejudice. He has since written a book about what
he learned, The Trial of Julian Assange, which I highly recommend.
In his UN findings, Melzer put it this way:
‘In 20 years of work with victims of war, violence and political persecution I
have never seen a group of democratic States ganging up to deliberately
isolate, demonise and abuse a single individual for such a long time and with
so little regard for human dignity and the rule of law’.
It hasn’t always been easy to remain dispassionate in the face of this persecution
and its impact on Julian and his family.
Julian’s has two small children, Gabriel and Max, who are just 5 and 3. When they
tell me about going to see Daddy “in the queue” they are talking about seeing him
in prison. They call it “the queue” because of the security queue they have to stand
in, as guards pat down and search their little bodies, checking inside their ears and
mouths, in their hair and in their shoes, before they can see their father.
It is heartbreaking.
Due to COVID restrictions, Julian wasn’t allowed to see his children for 6 months.
When they were finally let into see him, ongoing prison restrictions meant there was
a period he wasn’t allowed to touch them or give them a cuddle. Explain that to a
It is heartbreaking.
Last week, thousands of people linked hands to form a human chain around British
Parliament in an inspiring protest to demand Julian’s freedom. The kids came to the
protest and I walked with them around the chain. They were wearing their “Free My
Dad” tshirts, and chanted along with the crowd “Free Julian Assange”.
It is heartbreaking.
I say this because I want to remind you all today of the very real, human
consequences of this case.
But what is Julian in prison for? Why are he and his family being put through all of
The events that led to Julian’s indictment started in a room similar to this one.

On 5 April 2010, at the National Press Club in Washington DC, WikiLeaks shared the
Collateral Murder video with the world. It put WikiLeaks and Julian on the map in
all kinds of ways.
As you know, it showed the murder of civilians, children and journalists by US forces
in Iraq. A war crime, which the US authorities then tried to cover up.
An Australian journalist, Dean Yates, was the head of Reuters in Iraq at the time. He
sought answers about what had happened to his colleagues. The US claimed their
forces had complied with their rules of engagement. That was a lie. Freedom of
Information requests were rejected and Yates and Reuters were denied the truth.
It was only after the video and rules of engagement were published by WikiLeaks
that the world understood what happened.
I want to emphasise here: Julian is being prosecuted for publishing evidence about
the murder of your journalist colleagues in Iraq.
After the release of Collateral Murder came the Afghan War Diary, the Iraq War Logs
and the State Department Cables. In each of these releases, WikiLeaks pioneered
global collaborations between journalists on a scale never seen before. Working
together with WikiLeaks, journalists from mainstream media outlets, analysed large
sets of data, identifying patterns and trends to understand what was really
happening, and tell the story.
The publications showed that thousands more civilians were killed in American wars
than the US government had ever admitted. They showed evidence of war crimes,
extrajudicial killings, and torture by US forces, western governments and their
autocratic regime allies. They revealed the dense networks of support between those
governments and major corporations and the extent to which foreign and trade policy
was driven by corporate interests.
Journalism like this, at its core, is about subjecting power to scrutiny, and holding it
And the powerful didn’t like it. WikiLeaks was responsible for hundreds even
thousands of stories about how power really works in Washington, in London, in
Canberra, in capitals across the world about what it means in the streets and
homes of people in countries like Iraq and Afghanistan and about the price that is
paid for the application of power in shattered lives and dead and broken bodies.
Rather than shame, WikiLeaks provoked rage rage that journalism was exposing
the powerful.
The Obama administration opened a criminal investigation which Australian
diplomats reported was unprecedented in size and scale.

Editor, poet, and honorary PEN member Nedim Türfent released from prison

Dear friends,

I am absolutely thrilled to let you know that news editor, reporter, poet, and honorary PEN member Nedim Türfent has just been released from prison.

Here is our joint statement with MLSA welcoming his long-awaited freedom:

We shared the good news on our social media channels:

You can also find more pictures on MLSA’s twitter feed:

We will seek to speak with Nedim shortly to see what we can do to best support him now that he is out.

Such a happy day!

Aurélia Dondo| Europe Programme Coordinator | PEN International |

Türkiye: Editor, poet, and honorary PEN member Nedim Türfent released from prison

Tuesday 29 November 2022 – 10:15am

PEN International and the Media and Law Studies Association (MLSA) welcome the release of news editor, reporter, and poet Nedim Türfent, who was arrested on 12 May 2016 and subsequently sentenced to eight years and nine months in prison on trumped-up terrorism charges. Türfent spent over 2400 days behind bars. He is an honorary member of English PEN and PEN Melbourne.

‘The PEN Community welcomes the long-awaited release of Nedim Türfent, although he should have never spent a single day in prison. His ordeal is a painful reminder of the difficult situation for freedom of expression in Türkiye and the hefty price writers and journalists are paying merely for speaking out. Today, as we celebrate Türfent’s freedom, we also remember all those still held in Türkiye for peacefully expressing their views. We once again urge the authorities to release them immediately and unconditionally,’ said Ma Thida, Chair of PEN International’s Writers in Prison Committee.

Exposing an unlawful treatment of civilians should have been awarded a journalism prize, it turned into a seven-year ordeal instead. However, we are proud that Nedim Türfent continued to write and create, showing that his imprisonment, which intended to silence him, did not achieve that end. We know we will continue to see this inspiring courage and we wholeheartedly welcome Nedim back to freedom,’ said Barış Altıntaş, Co-Chair of the Media and Law Studies Association (MLSA).

Background information

A news editor and reporter at the now-closed pro-Kurdish Dicle News Agency (DİHA), Nedim Türfent, 32, was detained on 12 May 2016 in Van, South-eastern Türkiye, shortly after reporting on special police forces’ ill-treatment of Kurdish workers. Soon after his video footage was released, Türfent began receiving death threats from the police and was the target of an online harassment campaign. He was formally charged with ‘membership of a terrorist organisation’ one day after his arrest; the indictment was first produced 10 months later. He spent almost two years in solitary confinement in harrowing detention conditions.

Among the reasons listed in the indictment were Nedim Türfent’s social media posts, his news reporting and 20 concealed witness testimonies. His first hearing was held in Hakkari on 14 June 2017, some 200 km away from Van where he was being detained. He was denied the right to appear physically in court seven times, and instead testified via the judicial conferencing system SEGBİS, experiencing severe connection and interpretation issues. Out of the 20 witnesses called, 19 retracted their statements, saying they had been extracted under torture. MLSA provided Türfent with legal counsel and notably brought his detention and conviction before the European Court of Human Rights.

While in prison Nedim Türfent wrote ‘Kuş Aynası,’ a collection of poems published in September 2021 in Turkey by Aram Publishing.

PEN International and PEN Centres across the world have actively been campaigning for Nedim Türfent’s release, by notably sending appeals to the authorities, taking part in solidarity actions, and translating and promoting his poetry, amongst other things. In September 2022, the Assembly of Delegates of PEN International adopted a Resolution on the repression of Kurdish language and culture in Türkiye, which notably calls on the authorities to end the prosecution and detention of writers and journalists on the basis of the content of their writing – including in support of Kurdish language and culture – and to immediately release all those held for peacefully expressing their views, including Türfent.

PEN Centres wishing to send him a message should contact Aurélia Dondo, Europe Programme Coordinator:

For more information about PEN’s campaign for Nedim Türfent please click here.

For further details contact Aurélia Dondo at PEN International, Koops Mill, 162-164 Abbey Street, London, SE1 2AN, UK Tel: +44 (0) 20 7405 0338 Fax +44 (0) 20 7405 0339 e-mail:

“… in my imagination, I am eyeball to eyeball with each of you…” – Nedim Türfent has been moved to a different prison. You’ll want to read his letter to his PEN friends here at PEN Melbourne
PEN Melbourne honorary member Nedim Türfent has been moved to a different prison. You’ll want to read his letter to his PEN friends here at PEN Melbourne, he is uplifted by this change and
looks forward to better things to come. 
He says, “After more than 6 years, I broke an egg, for instance. To break an egg is an act of freedom.”
You can write to Nedim, he’d love to hear from people:
Nedim Türfent
Karakogan K1 Tipi Kapalı Cezaevi
Karakogan/ Elazig

Nedim’s letter as a pdf:

Nedim letter Nov 2021


Today marks 2000 days behind bars for reporter and poet Nedim Türfent.

  1. Today marks 2000 days behind bars for reporter and poet Nedim Türfent. We urge his immediate and unconditional release and stand in solidarity with all the journalists unjustly imprisoned in Turkey #FreeNedimTürfent #FreeTurkeyJournalists


  1. Bugün, gazeteci ve şair Nedim Türfent’in parmaklıklar ardındaki 2000. günü. Nedim’in derhal ve koşulsuz tahliyesini talep ediyoruz ve Türkiye’de hukuksuzca hapsedilmiş tüm gazetecilerin yanında olduğumuzu yineliyoruz. #NedimTürfentİçinÖzgürlük #GazetecilikSuçDeğildir


  1. ‘Within solidarity, nothing is beyond our reach’ –so wrote journalist & poet Nedim Türfent in a postcard to our PEN Melbourne community. Despite the catalogue of judicial injustice against him, he remains in prison. Today marks 2000 days #FreeNedimTürfent #FreeTurkeyJournalists


  1. Nedim Türfent on accepting PEN Melbourne honorary membership: ‘Coming from the farthest point of borders,this honor has erased once and for all the borders that sovereigns are trying to put in between us’.Please write to Nedim via #PENWrites campaign

  1. In Turkey, the practice of holding journalists and writers in pre-trial detention is part of systematic, unjust and pervasive judicial harassment. The analysis of witness testimonies against Nedim Türfent are shown to have serious legal flaws. Today marks 2000 days behind bars. We urge his immediate and unconditional release and stand in solidarity with all the journalists unjustly imprisoned in Turkey #FreeNedimTürfent #FreeTurkeyJournalists


  1. Nedim was arrested and detained in solitary confinement for almost 10 months before his indictment. In his 2017 trial he was denied the right to appear in court physically. Today marks 2000 days behind bars


  1. ‘I thank PEN and all its members who empower my pen under these conditions of solitary confinement.’ 2000 days in prison today #FreeNedimTürfent #FreeTurkeyJournalists

Write to Nedim via #PENWrites campaign


  1. Today marks 2000 days behind bars for Nedim Türfent. Send letters of solidarity to:

Nedim Türfent

Van Yüksek Güvenlikli

Kapalı Ceza İnfaz Kurumu

Koğuş A-44, Van,Turkey

OR #PENWrites campaign #FreeNedimTürfent #FreeTurkeyJournalists

  1. In prison Nedim Türfent wrote ‘Kuş Aynası,’ a collection of poems published Sept 2021, Turkey by Aram Publishing. Access the English translation of ‘Sana dair izlerin peşinde’ (Following the Traces of You) from this collection, trans Caroline Stockford:



  1. I must tell you frankly that had I been told five years ago, ‘you will be held in prison for years,for having practiced alternative journalism,’ I would have moved along and laughed in your face: Nedim Türfent. #FreeNedimTürfent #FreeTurkeyJournalists
  2. Nedim Türfent, Kurdish journalist & poet, was imprisoned in 2016 after publicising police harassment of workers in south-east Turkey. Read his poem ‘Can ve canavar’ (The soul and the beast) trans. Hidayet Ceylan
  3. ‘Within solidarity, nothing is beyond our reach’ –so wrote Nedim Türfent in a postcard to PEN Melbourne.Despite the catalogue of judicial injustice against him, he remains in prison. Today marks 2000 days #FreeNedimTürfent #FreeTurkeyJournalists


Nedim’s story

Nedim Türfent is a Kurdish journalist and poet. He was imprisoned in 2016 after publicising police harassment of workers in south-east Turkey.

Jackie Mansourian, Co-convenor of PEN Melbourne’s Writers-in-Prison program, explains how Nedim Türfent became an Honorary Member of PEN Melbourne:

In January 2020 Nedim Türfent wrote his first card to us. We were moved by his compassion and concern about the bushfires at that time: ‘I’m so sorry about [the] massive forest fires in Australia. Please feel my aching heart. Thank you for your letters. We are at one-heart’.

Later that year, PEN Melbourne members wrote cards to him during our annual card-writing gathering. As I wrote, I reflected on his circumstances. He had been in imprisoned since the age of 26 and the first two years were in solitary confinement. I have children of the same age. I thought of them. The pain of imagining them, like Nedim, being treated with such cruelty and disregard was unbearable. I told him that we knew of his circumstances, and were committed to working for his freedom.

Nedim replied personally to everyone who wrote to him. We were touched and challenged by this response, and made the commitment to invite Nedim to be a PEN Melbourne Honorary Member. Nedim has accepted our invitation. This means that PEN Melbourne will work purposefully and with many others, for his release. We will also help amplify awareness of his writings. Whilst in prison he has written a collection of poetry in Turkish, Kuş Aynası. Imagine the small mirror that people with budgerigars put in the cage for the birds’ own self-entertainment.

‘The Soul and the Beast,’ published here, has been translated from Nedim’s collection by Turkish-Australian poet, Hidayet Ceylan. Full details, including the original text in Turkish, are available at It has been a complex process of dialogue about the translation, as we discuss the meanings and interpretations, without the presence and affirmation of the poet himself. Please read the poem, find out about Nedim’s circumstances, join our work for Nedim, and write to him in solidarity.

“Kendi iblislerimiziz, kendimizi cennetimizden ediyoruz.”

“We are our own devils; we are expelling ourselves from our heaven”





Kimim ben

Who am I?

Bir dünya rengim var, sesim, dilim

I have a world of colours, voices, languages

Türlü türlü huyum…

And all sorts of natures…

Mazlum da benim, zalim de

I am the oppressor and the oppressed

ölen de, öldüren de…

I am the murdered and the murderer…

Tut kelin perçeminden!

Grab the curly hair of the bald man.


Ben Oblomov kadar tembel

I am as lazy as Oblomov

Kozet kadar sefil, pejmürde

I am as miserable and shabby as Kozet

Dewrêşê Ewdî kadar fedakarım.

I am as self-sacrificing as Dewrêşê Ewdî.

Harikalar Diyarı’nda Alice’im

I am Alice in Wonderland

Kimi zaman Don Kişot olurum

I sometimes become Don Quixote

Kimi zaman Boby Sands,

Sometimes Bobby Sands,

Ama bir yanım hep çocuktur

But one side of me is always a child

Şeker Portakalı’ndaki Zeze kadar yaramazdır

And as naughty as Zeze in My Sweet Orange Tree

Bir yanım da olgundur,

Another side of me is mature,

Kürek mahkumu Kelebek kadar

Persistent, determined. A combatant.

İnatçı, azimli ve mücadeleci…

Like Papillon and the galley slave…


Riyad’da burka giyerim zoraki,

I wear the burqa by force in Riyadh

Kiev’de Femen olurum.

I become Femen in Kiev

Kanberra’da anamın rahminden kurtulur

I am freed from my mother’s womb in Canberra

Moskova’da beşik beşik yatarım…

I sleep in many cradles in Moscow…

Dubai’de adımbaşı gökdelenlerde, Kore’deki bir kafeste,

I live in sky scrapers on every corner in Dubai, in a cage in Korea

Budapeşte’de tarihle iç içe, Saraybosna’da yeraltında,

I am embedded with history in Budapest, in underground shelters in Sarajevo

Amazon ormanlarının derinliğinde yaşarım…

I live deep in the Amazon jungle…

Dublin’de kütüphane ve müze,

I wander the library and museum in Dublin,

Sana’da mezar mezar dolaşırım!

each of the graves in Sana’a

Tokyo’da bir yüzyıl yaşarım, bir asır,

I live as old as one hundred years, a century in Japan

Bağdat’ta ergenliği görsem, ne mutlu bana!

If I reach adolescence in Baghdad, how happy I am!


Bir yanım şairdir, beriki katil, asker,

One part of me is a poet, another part is a murderer, a soldier

Para babasıyım New York’ta

I am filthy rich in New York

Burada proleterya, şurada parya

Here the proletariat, there the pariah

Yoksul ve yoksunum…

I am poor and I am deprived….

Kapitalistim ve komüncü

I am a capitalist and I am a communist

Katalonya’da devrimci, Madrit’te statükocuyum.

I am a revolutionary in Catalonia, defend the status quo in Madrid

Glasgow’da saksafon çalarım, yaşım 60,

I play saxophone in Glasgow, I am 60 years old

Kabil’de ekmek çalarım yaşım 6!

I steal bread in Kabul and I am 6 years old!


As you can see

Ottawa’da obeziteden

I die from obesity in Ottawa

Mogadişu’da açlıktan ölürüm…

from hunger in Mogadishu…


Buenos Aires’te Plaza de Mayo annesiyim;

I am a mother of Plaza de Mayo in Buenos Aires

Latin Amerika’da bir gerillayım

I am a guerilla in Latin America

Uzak Doğu’da bilim insanıyım

I am a scientist in the Far East

Yakın Asya’da ilim ve irfan…

Knowledge and wisdom bearer in the Near East…

Adımı ister Sofie koyun,

Whether you name me Sophie,

İsterseniz Mefisto, ya da Sysphus;

Or Mephisto, or Sisyphus;

Yüreğim bazen Mirabel kardeşlerini kadar kocamandır.

My heart is sometimes as big as the Mirabal sisters.

İstanbul’da Hrant Dink gibi tedirgin olurum.

I become as anxious as Hrant Dink in İstanbul.

Auschwitz’deki adımı sorarsanız, Elie Wiesel.

If you ask my name in Auschwitz, it is Elie Wiesel.

Kobanêli Aylan Kurdî’yim, denizin kıyısına değil

I am Aylan Kurdi from Kobane, I have not hit the shore 

Nasır tutan vicdanınıza tokat gibi vurulmuşum

My dead body has slapped your calloused conscience


Christchurch’te fanatik bir dinci vuruyor beni,

A fanatic fundamentalist shoots me in Christchurch,

Suriye’de F bilmem-ne-tipi savaş uçağı…

An F-whatever type of fighter jet in Syria…

Firavunun pençesinde bir Filistinli

I am a Palestinian under the claw of a Pharaoh

Führer’in toynaklarında bir Yahudiyim.

I am a Jew under the hooves of Führer.

Fakat Firavun da benim, Führer de!

I am both Pharaoh and Führer!

Demokles’in kılıcını da ben taşırım, Brutus de benim.

I carry the sword of Damocles, I am Brutus as well.

Zorba ve tiranım bazı bazı

From time to time I am a despot and a tyrant

Tokmak elimde, silah belimde

Hammer in my hand and gun on my belt

İşgal ve ilhak ederim

I invade and annex   

Sözümona demokrasi ve özgürlük taşırım

I carry a so-called freedom and democracy

Esasında kolonilerde teröristler yaratırım…

In fact, I create terrorists in the colonies…


Pekin’de çekik gözlüyüm

I am Chinese in Beijing 

Akra’da kapkara…

I am African in Accra…

Kızılderiliyim beyaz tenli.

I am First Nations in America.

Erivanlıyım, Rojavalıyım, Myanmarlıyım…

I am from Yerevan, I am from Rojova, I am from Myanmar…

Maorice ve Kürtçe konuşurum

I speak Maori and Kurdish

Ruanda’daki dilimi Fransa’ya sorun!

Ask France my language in Rwanda!

Dört bir tarafta ben varım, yerde ve gökte.

I am present at every corner, on the ground and in the sky.

Hollywood ile Bollywood arasında mekik dokurum.

I travel back and forth between Hollywood and Bollywood

Tüm canlıların tanrı ve tanrıçasıyım!

I am the God and Goddess of all living beings!

Ulusu, devleti yoktan var ederim,

I create the Nation and the State from nothing,

O gelip beni vardan yok eder…

They come and exterminate my existence…


Sadist ve narsistim, isim günüm meçhul

I am a sadist and narcissist, my name is obscure

Kilise, camii ve sinagogdan çıkar

As I leave the church, mosque and synagogue

Hades’in müdavimi, Nirvana’nın yolcusu olurum…

I am inured to Hades, I enter the path to Nirvana…

Duvarlarınıza çarpan bir mülteciyim

I am a refugee crashing your walls

Kim Phuc çıplaklığında koşarım barbarlıktan…

I escape the barbarism in the nakedness of Kim Phuc…

Geleceğin savunucusu Greta Thunberg

I become Greta Thunberg, the defender of the future

Yaşamın koruyucusu Nadya Murad olurum…

Nadya Murad, the protector of life…

İsviçre’ye yurttaş adayıyım,

I am a candidate for citizenship to Switzerland,

Ülkemin kirpikleri yaşlı ve kanlı…

The eyelashes of my country awash with blood and tears…

Kan akıtan, cana kıyan da benim…

I am the one who sheds blood and murders…

Can da, canavar da benim…

I am both the soul and the beast…


Bir avuç soğuk su çal yüzüne,

Splash a handful of cold water on your face,

Kimim ben?

Who am I?

Yeryüzünde cennetle cehennemi birlikte var eden,

I am the one who creates the Heaven and Hell on Earth together

Aydınlığın ve karanlığın bekçisiyim!

I am the gate-keeper of the light and the darkness!

İnsanım ben, insanın ta kendisiyim…

I am a human being, I am the human being…

İçim dışım çelişki, ne yaman çelişki.

My interior, my exterior is a contradiction, such a thorough contradiction.

Nedim’i mektupsuz, selamsız bırakmayalım!

Do not leave Nedim without a letter and without a greeting!

Nedim Türfent
Van Yüksek Güvenlikli Kapalı Ceza İnfaz Kurumu

The poem is available as a broadsheet pdf here:




Excerpt from Nedim’s Open letter to the winds of injustice
Van Prison. 14 April 2021, 1,800th day of imprisonment:

Words fly by in my head. Meanwhile, I can barely put two syllables together. My pen has been becalmed for hours. The ink no longer flows, as if my pen had been weaned . . .


I must tell you frankly that had I been told five years ago, ‘you will be held in prison for years, for having practiced alternative journalism,’ I would have moved along and laughed in your face. Never would I have imagined that the Law and our rights could be trampled this badly. Like a shuttle constantly moving backward and forward between acceptance and habituation, we are transformed into this object weaving the net we thought impossible, undoable. And that is the worst of it. Today we accept silently, as if they were ordinary, all these things that, no more than five years ago, would have set fire to the greatest of indignations. We collapse in our armchairs, settle into our echo chambers, and we wish a long life to the snake that does not strike us . . .


This pencil is one of the stories on which the vice of persecution tested its teeth. In 2015 in Y¸ksekova, a town smack on the borders of Iraq, Iran, and Turkey, Turkish special forces made a group of Kurdish construction workers lie naked on the ground and shouted, ‘You will see the strength of the Turk!’ I relayed this infamy and an inquiry was opened against these policemen. But shortly thereafter, the voice of revenge reached my ears. Attacks using tear gas, rubber bullets, surveillance, aggressions, death threats, then arrest, torture during custody and, finally, on 13 May 2016, incarceration. . . All of the 19 witnesses for the prosecution described torture while in custody . . . one of the witnesses declared: ‘the policemen told me: if you don’t sign this document, we will pull out your teeth with pliers.’


Please, consider this open letter as ‘representative’ of situations. In this framework, justice is demanded for all. In solidarity and with the pencil’s resistance, before its lead is broken.


Translation by Renée Lucie Bourges



Write to Nedim
Van Yüksek Güvenlikli Kapalı Ceza İnfaz Kurumu

June 27, 2021

PEN Melbourne is proud to have Nedim Türfent as our Honorary Member.

We have recently received confirmation from Nedim from his prison in Van, Turkey, and through the broader PEN International network, that he welcomes his membership to PEN Melbourne.

Nedim is a journalist, editor and poet.

He was detained in May 2016 after reporting on Turkish special forces’ ill-treatment of Turkish and Kurdish workers, in south-east Turkey. He published footage of this treatment and immediately began receiving death threats from the police and became the target of online harassment. He was detained in solitary confinement. He was 26 years old. Ten months later he was formally charged with ‘membership of a terrorist organisation’.

In his trial beginning in June 2017, he was denied the right to appear in court physically.  However, 19 of the 20 prosecution witnesses retracted their statements, saying they had been extracted under torture. In December, 2017 he was sentenced to eight years and nine months in prison. This verdict has been upheld twice. But Nedim’s lawyers have appealed further.

While waiting for his appeal, Nedim has been studying, English, German and writing poetry.

He is also a generous writer of letters. During PEN Melbourne’s end- of- year card writing to imprisoned writers in December 2020, many members wrote to Nedim. He has since written cards in return to each writer, in gratitude, and with powerful messages that affirm ‘freedom for words’.

If you would like to join PEN Melbourne’s actions in solidarity with Nedim, please contact us at

And join the call for Nedim Türfent’s release on social media – #FreeNedim

One of Nedim’s first poems translated into many languages

Let my heart give life –  Nedim Türfent

Your heart has become the earth
let it give elixir into the veins
bring fertility to the soil
from the springs behind the mountain Qaf.
let the benevolence of the crops
be the silver key to life.
let your heart soothe
the farmer
the peasant
the day laborer
the distressed

let it massage the broken wings of birds
with ointments
let it grant refuge
to the ants, working collectively, in solidarity
let heart fill with generosity
giving butterflies an extra day of life
let it be a lifeline
like the womb   

let your heart be crystal clear
as clear as water
let it give life to the lifeless.


Translation by Barış Altıntaş, Media and Law Studies Association (MSLA)



First published here:


Nedim Türfent

New Honorary Member of PEN Melbourne

PEN Melbourne has nominated imprisoned Kurdish writer Nedim Türfent as an Honorary Member, and we are pleased that Nedim has accepted.

Nedim Türfent is a journalist and poet currently imprisoned in Turkey. In December 2017, more than 18 months after his arrest, Türfent was handed an eight-year-and-nine-month prison sentence on trumped-up terrorism charges. He has now spent more than 1,500 days in detention.  Naming Nedim as an honorary member means that PEN Melbourne will energetically prosecute his case and continue our correspondence with him.

If you would like to join our work with Nedim Türfent please contact our Writers in Prison Team.

PEN Melbourne members have written to Nedim on several occasions since his arrest, and we have received spirited and enthusiastic replies written from his prison cell. Here is a letter we received earlier this year.


TURKEY: ACTION Write to Selahattin Demirtaş

International PEN Melbourne Centre



WRITE to Selahattin Demirtaş, a writer in prison

Throughout the year PEN Melbourne members and friends write to persecuted writers in prison around the world.

We send our best wishes, and our hopes that they are staying well and in good spirits.

We do this in the spirit of solidarity and to let them know that they are not alone and not forgotten.

We try by this means to allow a light into their lives in prison.

The letters are not political, but a gesture of friendship and a way of connecting across the cultural divides.


Send a letter to show solidarity with prominent Kurdish politician and writer Selahattin Demirtaş.

Writer and opposition politician Selahattin Demirtaş turned 48 on Saturday 10 April – the fifth birthday he has spent behind bars and away from his loved ones.

Demirtaş has been held in pre-trial detention for over four years, on dubious terrorism charges. The European Court of Human Rights twice ruled for his release, to no avail.

It is time that Turkey abides by its obligations under international law and release Demirtaş once and for all.


Backround information:

Former co-chair of the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), Selahattin Demirtaş was arrested on 4 November 2016 on dubious terrorism charges. The Turkish authorities have so far failed to implement a landmark ruling of the European Court of Human Rights issued in November 2018, which found his detention to be politically motivated and ordered his immediate release – a call reiterated by the Court’s Grand Chamber in December 2020.

PEN International calls for his immediate and unconditional release.

Please send messages of solidarity to:

Mr Selahattin Demirtaş

Edirne F Tipi CİK B1-38




We encourage anyone with a love of writing and literature to join PEN Melbourne. We are an entirely voluntary and not-for-profit organisation and our members sustain and bring vitality to our work.

Day of the Imprisoned Writer: The Case of Julian Assange & Write to Julian Assange

In June this year UK Home Secretary Priti Patel signed an order to extradite Julian Assange to the US. There, the co-founder of WikiLeaks would face 18 criminal charges, including espionage, with a combined prison sentence of 175 years.

Julian Assange’s father John Shipton has strenuously and creatively pursued freedom for Julian, refocusing his case in the public eye. Stella Assange met Julian Assange in London in 2011 when she joined his international legal team. They have two children together, and married in March 2022 in Belmarsh high-security prison in south-east London. Barrister and renowned international human rights lawyer Jennifer Robinson has represented Julian Assange and WikiLeaks for almost a decade and is intimately familiar with the case.

At this event held on the Day of the Imprisoned Writer and presented in partnership with PEN Melbourne, Shipton, Stella Assange and Robinson explore the ongoing case of Julian Assange and WikiLeaks, and its wider implications for freedom of speech, with award-winning journalist Rachael Brown, who covered Julian Assange’s extradition hearing as an ABC Europe correspondent.

Presented in partnership with PEN Melbourne.


Other Action Examples:
Support the Don’t Extradite Assange Campaign
Wear your support for Assange
Donate to WikiLeaks
Upload your photo to WeAreMillions #FreeAssange
Create art for Artists for Assange and WLArtForce
Become a patron of the Don’t Extradite Assange Campaign
US: donate to
Get involved with a local grassroots campaign or create your own
Sign up to volunteer for the Don’t Extradite Assange Campaign

@DEACampaign Twitter, DEACampaign FB, @TheDEACampaign IG
@StellaMoris1 Twitter, Stella Moris FB, @StellaMoris7 IG
@WikiLeaks Twitter, WikiLeaks FB, @WikiLeaks IG
@WLArtForce Twitter, WLArtForce FB, @WLArtForce IG
@WikiLeaksShop Twitter, WikiLeaksShop FB, @WikiLeaksShop IG
@DefendAssange Twitter, DefendAssange FB, @AssangeOfficial IG
@ArtAssange Twitter, ArtAssange FB, @ArtAssange IG
@AssangeDefense Twitter, AssangeDefense FB, @AssangeOfficial IG
@CourageFound Twitter, CourageFoundOrg FB, @Courage_Foundation IG

Suzan Saka for the Turkish program Pirha News interviews PEN Melbourne committee member Mammad Aidani

This interview is with Mammad Aidani from PEN Melbourne committee, and whilst the website is in Turkish, Mammad speaks in English throughout the interview.

İranlı Yazar Aidani PİRHA’ya konuştu: Protestolar genç kadınların devrimi, korkmuyoruz!-VİDEO

PİRHA- İranlı sanatçı, oyun yazarı, şair ve insan hakları aktivisti Mammad Aidani, Jîna Mahsa Amini’nin rejim güçleri tarafından katledilmesi sonrası başlayan protestoları devrim olarak niteledi. Aidani, “Bu sürecin de bir parçası olmamız gerekiyor. Artık insanların kaybedecek hiçbir şeyleri yok. Korkmuyoruz ve İran hükümetinin değişmesi için de yapılması gereken ne varsa buna da hazırız” dedi. 

İran kentlerinde 16 Eylül’de Jîna Eminî’nin katledilmesi sonrası başlayan protesto eylemleri devam ederken, Avustralya’nın Melbourne şehrinde yaşayan İranlı sanatçı, oyun yazarı, şair ve insan hakları aktivisti Mammad Aidani, Jîna Mahsa Amini’nin rejim güçleri tarafından katledilmesi sonrası başlayan protestolara ilişkin PİRHA‘nın sorularını yanıtladı.

Mammad Aidani, İran’da 43 yıl  içeresinde olan baskı ve zulmün hiçbir şekilde bitmediğine dikkat çekerek, özellikle İranlı kadınların yaşam ve özgürlük alanlarınının daraltılığını ifade etti.

Jîna Mahsa Amini’nin rejim güçleri tarafından katledilmesi sonrasında İran geneline yayılan ve kadınların öncülük ettiği protestoların Ortadoğu’nun geleceği açısından önemli olduğunu vurgulayan Mammad Aidani, “Protestoları genç kadınların devrimi olarak görüyorum. Bu devrim uzun vadede hem İran’da hem Türkiye’de hem de dünyanın başka yerlerinde kadın haklarında yaşanan hak ihlallerine karşı insanların bir araya geldiği, toplumsal mücadelenin yükseldiği bir sürece girmesini umut ediyor” dedi.

1979’un  6 Mart’ında yüz binlerce kadının katıldığı bir protesto eyleminin o zamanki Humeyni rejimine uyarı niteliği taşıdığını hatırlatan Mammad Aidani, “O zamandan bugünlere verilen hiçbir söz tutulmadı. Özellikle kadınların günlük yaşamdan izole edilmesi, entelektüel olarak hayatın herhangi bir alanında olmaması, yazarların, çizerlerin, gazetecilerin İran’da barınamaması, kiminin gözaltında, cezaevinde olması kimisinin başka ülkelere sürgüne gitmesi gerçekten bu süreci çok iyi neticelendiriyor. Şu an İran’da kadınların başlattığı mücadeleyi yükseltmiş olduğu bu süreçten biz erkeklerin de çok iyi anlaması ve okuması gerektiğini düşünüyorum” diye konuştu.


Kadınların sesinin duyulmasını ve onların gösterdikleri eşit hak ve hukuk mücadelesinin iyi okunması gerektiğinin altını çizen Mammad Aidani, “Bu sürecin de bir parçası olmamız gerekiyor. Şu an yaşanan protestoları ve toplumsal mücadeleyi İran halkı doğru analiz ediyor. Bunun bir şekilde bir şeylere dönüşeceği gibi bir hissiyat taşıyorum” şeklinde dile getirdi.


İran devrimi olduğunda İranlıların beklentisi eşit özgürce bir dünyada yaşamakken, Humeyni’nin gelmesiyle beraber daha çok baskıların, şiddetin ve zulmün arttığı, bütün insan hakları taleplerinin görmezden gelindiği ve en çokta kadınların bundan mağdur olduğu bir sürecin 43 yıldır yaşandığını aktaran Mammad Aidani, “İranlılar olarak hem yoksulluk hem de bu son süreçte yaşanan eylemlerin bize vermiş olduğu güçle mücadele büyüyor. Artık insanların kaybedecek hiçbir şeyleri yok. Korkmuyoruz ve İran hükümetinin değişmesi için de yapılması gereken ne varsa buna da hazırız” diye belirtti.


Mammad Aidani, sadece İran’da değil nerede hak ihlali yaşanıyorsa her anlamda insanların farklılıklarını bir şekilde kenara bırakarak mücadeleyi büyütmesi gerektiğini vurgulayarak, şöyle devam etti:

“Özellikle entelektüeller bu mücadeleyi asla ama asla bırakmamalı. Sonuçta hiçbir hükümet, hiçbir devlet toplumlara haklarını vermezler, haklar mücadele edilerek alınır. Kürtler, Aleviler, etkin azınlıklar ve LGBTİ+’lar gibi tüm toplumsal yapılar, her alanda toplumsal mücadeleyi genişletmek, yaşanan tarihsel süreci iyi okumak zorundalar. Bu sürecin tekrar yaşanmaması için de dayanışmaya ve mücadelenin bir şekilde parçası olmaya da devam etmek durumundalar.”


İnsan hakları savunucusu, şair, oyun yazarı, tiyatro yönetmeni ve psikososyal araştırmacıdır. Araştırmalarında, Avustralya ve Batı’ya yerleşen İranlı ve Ortadoğulu göçmenlerin, mültecilerin ve sığınmacıların maruz kaldığı şiddet, işkence, travma ve acıları inceliyor. Mammad’ın yazıları İran’da yasaklanmıştır. Mammad aynı zamanda PEN International Melbourne’ün başkan yardımcısıdır.


Röportajın yapılmasını ve çevirisini toplum görevlisi, ev içi şiddet ve yaşlı istismarı eğitmeni Suzan Saka sağlamıştır.

PEN International and PEN Norway: urgent statement on arrest in Turkey of human rights defender Şebnem Korur Fincancı.

PEN Norway & PEN International call for release of Prof Dr Şebnem Korur Fincancı







Türkiye: Release prominent academic and human rights defender Şebnem Korur Fincancı


28 October 2022 – We, PEN Norway and PEN International, express our extreme concern at the formal arrest yesterday of prominent academic, forensic scientist, and leading human rights defender Prof. Dr. Şebnem Korur Fincancı, on charges of disseminating propaganda for a terrorist organisation.


President of the Union of Turkish Medical Associations (Türk Tabipler Birliği – TTB) and board member of the Human Rights Foundation of Türkiye (HRFT), Fincancı was taken into custody on 26 October 2022 in relation to comments made in a live interview on the Medya TV channel regarding the possible use of chemical weapons employed by the Turkish armed forces against members of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq. Fincancı was restrained in her comments to Kurdish media, asking for a full investigation to be carried out and declaring that she could not confirm the use of chemical gas unless she were to make a formal forensic examination.


Fincancı has been arrested on charges of ‘disseminating propaganda for a terrorist organisation’ under Article 7/2 of Anti-Terror Law No. 3713 despite her comments clearly falling under the remit of freedom of expression.


A further case has been lodged to remove Fincancı from her role as President of the Union of Turkish Medical Associations.


There is a clear vendetta against our colleague who has been the subject of protracted judicial harrassment, of late in the Özgür Gündem case in which she and co-defendants Erol Önderoğlu and Ahmet Aziz Nesin are undergoing a retrial for acting as guest editors of the Kurdish daily during a country-wide solidarity campaign in 2016. This is despite the court ruling to acquit all three on 17 July 2019.  Fincancı was also one of the ‘Academics for Peace’ where 2,212 academics were signatories of a petition calling for a restart to peace negotiations in the South-east of Türkiye.  Fincancı was tried for her participation and acquitted of all charges.


PEN International President Burhan Sonmez said of Fincancı’s arrest: ‘PEN International stands in solidarity with Professor Şebnem Korur Fincancı. We urgently call for her immediate and unconditional release, and for all charges against her to be dropped. Her shocking detention and arrest constitute yet another attempt to silence independent voices in Türkiye. We have repeatedly called on the authorities to stop using anti-terrorism laws to target dissenting views and to uphold the right to freedom of expression, which includes the right to give and receive information. Şebnem Korur Fincancı should not be prosecuted merely for peacefully expressing her views and must be released at once.’


PEN Norway President Kjersti Løken Stavrum said: ‘We are extremely concerned to hear the news of her formal arrest yesterday for carefully recommending an investigation into a claim concerning the use of chemical weapons in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq. This is the clearest example of the violation of Fincancı’s right to freedom of expression. Fincancı did not make a direct accusation but merely shared a cautious professional opinion in line with her professional role as forensic scientist and President of the Union of Turkish Medical Associations. We will not stand by and allow our colleague to be attacked with false charges and we demand her immediate release and the dropping of all charges against her.’


PEN Norway and PEN International will be following this matter very closely and are in full solidarity with our colleague Fincancı, who is one of Türkiye’s leading human rights defenders. We demand that Fincancı is released from detention immediately and unconditionally, and that all charges are withdrawn.


Media queries


For further details contact:



Vietnam: Release author, journalist and activist, Pham Doan Trang



Update #1 to RAN 11/2020

This month marks the two-year anniversary since Pham Doan Trang was detained by the Vietnamese authorities, who subsequently sentenced her to nine years’ imprisonment for “Making, storing, spreading information, materials, items for the purpose of opposing the State of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam”, a charge frequently used to target those who criticise the government. PEN International believes that Pham Doan Trang has been unjustly sentenced for her peaceful expression and calls again for her immediate and unconditional release, and for her conviction to be overturned.

TAKE ACTION! Please send appeals to the authorities of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam:

  • Calling for Pham Doan Trang’s immediate release from arbitrary imprisonment by Vietnamese authorities;
  • To overturn all criminal convictions against her under the Vietnamese Penal Code;
  • Grant Pham Doan Trang access to adequate health care, along with immediate and unimpeded access to her family and legal representative; and
  • End the crackdown on bloggers, writers and free speech activists in Vietnam.

A template appeal letter is available to use, in both English and Vietnamese.

Send appeals to:

Prime Minister

Minister of Foreign Affairs

  • Mr. Bui Thanh Son
  • Address: No. 1, Ton That Dam street, Dien Bien, Ba Dinh district, Hanoi, Vietnam.
  • Email:
  • Twitter: @FMBuiThanhSon

Send copies to the Embassy of Vietnam in your country: Click here.

** Please send appeals immediately. Check with PEN International if sending appeals after 31 October 2022 **


PEN members are encouraged to:

  • Publish articles and opinion pieces in your national or local press highlighting the case of Pham Doan Trang and freedom of expression in Vietnam;
  • Share information about Pham Doan Trang and your campaigning activities via social media, calling for the quashing of her sentence and immediate, unconditional release.

** Please keep PEN International informed of any action you take in regard to Pham Doan Trang’s case, including any responses you receive from the authorities **

Additional Information

Pham Doan Trang is an author, journalist, publisher and democracy activist. A selfless advocate for the rights of others, she has suffered severe persecution from the authorities, including harassment, assault, and forced homelessness.

Regarded as one of Vietnam’s most prominent human rights activists, Pham Doan Trang is the author of several books, including Politics of a Police State, Non-Violent Opposition and Handbook on supporting Prisoners. Pham Doan Trang has received multiple awards in recognition of her advocacy work, including the 2020 IPA Prix Voltaire Award and the 2022 Martin Ennals Award. On 17 November 2022, Pham Doan Trang is due to be awarded CPJ’s International Press Freedom Award in recognition of her reporting in the face of persecution.

In October 2020, Pham Doan Trang was arrested at her home and charged with “conducting propaganda against the Socialist Republic of Vietnam”, an allegation frequently used to imprison dissident writers and human rights activists.

While detained, Pham Doan Trang was denied access to legal counsel and medical care for over a year. This ill-treatment raises serious concerns in relation to her pre-existing health conditions, such as low blood pressure and chronic pain, resulting from her legs being severely injured after she was assaulted by the police in 2015.

14 December 2021 Pham Doan Trang was sentenced to nine years’ imprisonment, despite her unjust detention drawing international condemnation from the the United Nations Special Procedures, human rights groups, and governments around the world. On 25 August 2022, the Hanoi People’s High Court rejected Pham Doan Trang’s appeal against the sentence. On 1 October 2022, Pham Doan Trang was transferred to a prison located approximately 100km north of Ho Chi Minh City, further complicating her ability to receive visits from her family and legal representatives.

In May 2019, Pham Doan Trang drafted a letter to be circulated in the eventuality she was ever jailed. The letter can be found here.

For previous actions by PEN International on Vietnam, click here.

For further information please contact Ross Holder, Asia Programme Coordinator at PEN International, Unit A, Koops Mill, 162-164 Abbey Street, London, SE1 2AN, Tel.+ 44 (0) 20 7405 0338, email:

Attached is an optional template letter that can be used to help draft the letter of appeal to the Vietnamese authorities (including versions in both English and Vietnamese).

Pham Doan Trang – Letter of Appeal – English






Proposed by Scottish PEN

Seconded by PEN Melbourne


PEN International expresses serious concern over the continued prosecution in the US of Wikileaks founder and publisher Julian Assange and condemns the decision of the UK Home Secretary to certify his extradition, setting a dangerous precedent for journalists and publishers around the world. Assange faces up to 175 years in prison for his role in obtaining and publishing classified military and diplomatic documents in 2010.[i]


PEN International has repeatedly stressed that Julian Assange’s prosecution raises profound concerns about freedom of the press.[ii] Invoking the Espionage Act for practices that include receiving and publishing classified information sends a dangerous signal to journalists and publishers worldwide. The State’s desire to keep a matter secret does not automatically override the public’s right to know, particularly where there is strong evidence of human rights violations or corruption. In its War Logs, comprising hundreds of thousands of US documents about Afghanistan and the war in Iraq, WikiLeaks disclosed material detailing human rights abuses by the US army under the Bush administration, including a classified US military video showing a 2007 attack by Apache helicopters that killed a dozen people in Baghdad, with two Reuters news staff amongst them. [iii]


Assange is the first publisher to be charged under the Espionage Act. Dunja Mijatović, the Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights, said that allowing his extradition ‘would have a chilling effect on media freedom, and could ultimately hamper the press in performing its task as purveyor of information and public watchdog in democratic societies’.[iv] Nils Melzer, former Special Rapporteur on Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, described the US indictment against Assange as ‘the criminalisation of investigative journalism’. PEN International echoes the former Special Rapporteur’s concerns over Assange’s health, which has severely deteriorated as a result of being confined in Belmarsh maximum-security prison in London since April 2019. [v]


On 17 June 2022, the UK Home Secretary approved the extradition of Julian Assange, triggering a wave of condemnation from human rights and free expression groups worldwide. His legal team continues to fight against his extradition and has lodged an appeal at the UK High Court.


At its 85th World Congress in Manila, Philippines, the PEN community condemned the charges against Julian Assange and the threats they pose to press freedom.[vi] Considering his continued prosecution in the US and the UK Home Secretary’s decision to certify his extradition, the Assembly of Delegates of PEN International calls on the United States to:


  • Drop the charges against WikiLeaks founder and publisher Julian Assange and withdraw their extradition request. Espionage laws should not be used against journalists and publishers for disclosing information of public interest.


The Assembly of Delegates of PEN International calls on the United Kingdom to:


  • Refrain from extraditing Julian Assange and release him from prison immediately. Assange’s freedom of movement upon release must be respected.



[i] United States of America v. Julian Paul Assange, superseding indictment, May 2019, available at:


[ii] See PEN International, US/UK: Decision to extradite Julian Assange to the United States condemned, 17 June 2022, available at:


[iii] Wikileaks, Collateral Murder, 5 April 2010, available at:


[iv] Council of Europe, Commissioner calls on UK government not to extradite Julian Assange, 18 May 2022, available at:


[v] OHCHR, UN expert says “collective persecution” of Julian Assange must end now, 31 May 2019, available at:


[vi] PEN International, Resolution on the abuse of the US espionage and the US prosecution of Julian Assange as an attack on freedom of expression, October 2019, available at:

Photos from the SOS Human Chain in Melbourne on the 8th October, 2022



Wai Moe Naing on trial


Wai Moe Naing is a writer, activist, and member of PEN Myanmar. He began writing as a student, with his first short story being published in Teen Magazine at the age of 13. His writing has since been published in several literary outlets, including Khit Yanantthit Magazine and Pae Tin Tharn Journal. In the immediate aftermath of the military coup, Wai Moe Naing rose to prominence as a leader of the anti-coup protest movement and was among those who popularised the idea of banging pots and pans as a non-violent act of resistance to the military junta’s rule.
Wai Moe Naing faces trial on a charge of high treason. Already serving 10-year prison sentence, he now faces the death penalty if convicted.
For more in-depth information, see PEN International’s report on the case:
TAKE ACTION: Please also send appeals directly to the military junta:
-Calling for Wai Moe Naing’s immediate and unconditional release;
-Urging for the dropping of all charges made against him under the Myanmar Penal Code and other legislation;
-Providing Wai Moe Naing with immediate and unimpeded access to independent legal representation and his family; and
-Calling for an end to the crackdown on all those engaged in peaceful expression in Myanmar.
Appeals directed to the military junta can be sent to:
Dr Thida Oo,
Role: Attorney General of the Ministry of Legal Affairs, Republic of the Union of Myanmar
Address: Building 25, Nay Pyi Taw, Myanmar
Telephone: +95 067 404054
Fax: + 95 67 404106

Myanmar: PEN Centres around the world condemn the execution of writer Kyaw Min Yu

PEN Centres around the world are appalled by Monday’s news that writer Kyaw Min Yu (also known as Ko Jimmy) is among four pro-democracy activists who have been executed by the military junta, following a show trial that denied their ability to establish their innocence according to international fair trial norms. According to sources, Kyaw Min Yu’s family have yet to be informed of the specific date that his execution took place.

Despite international appeals calling for their release, the military junta’s decision to carry out the executions, the first to take place in over 30 years, is yet another reminder of the cruel and unrelenting violence that the junta has waged against the people of Myanmar on a daily basis since it seized power on 1 February 2021.

‘By denying the right to appeal and other basic standards necessary for a fair trial, these judicial executions are a cynical attempt to cloak the abhorrent use of lethal force behind a veil of legality. By carrying out these executions, the military junta has once again displayed its murderous intent towards its own citizens, and the open contempt it holds towards its international human rights obligations.

The use of violence to silence Ko Jimmy and others will only increase the resolve of those who continue to use their voices to resist authoritarian rule, allowing their message to spread even further. The PEN community condemns this outrageous act of state violence by the military junta’, said Ma Thida, Chair of PEN International’s Writers in Prison Committee.

For further information on Kyaw Min Yu’s background and detention, please refer to PEN International’s previous statement.

With over 70 detainees currently now facing the death penalty, the resumption of judicial executions by the military junta represents an abhorrent escalation in the use of violence against those who have been targeted for their peaceful expression. Included among those facing a potential death sentence is writer, pro-democracy activist and PEN Myanmar member, Wai Moe Naing.

We, the undersigned PEN Centres, utterly condemn the military junta’s execution of Kyaw Min Yu and other pro-democracy activists. We call for the immediate and unconditional release of all those wrongfully detained for their peaceful expression in Myanmar:

  • PEN International
  • PEN Melbourne



For further information please contact Ross Holder, Asia Programme Coordinator at PEN International, Unit A, Koops Mill, 162-164 Abbey Street, London, SE1 2AN, Tel.+ 44 (0) 20 7405 0338, email: