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The Writers in Prison Committee of PEN International was set up in 1960 as a result of mounting concern about attempts to silence critical voices around the world. An office was set up at the PEN head office in London to gather information and to alert the PEN membership to take action. The WiPC is now staffed by a team of experts who monitor around 1,000 attacks on writers, journalists, editors, poets, publishers and others in any given year. These include long prison terms, harassment, threats, and murder.

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Maria Ressa: Freedom and Fakery in the Philippines Today Maria Ressa is a veteran investigative journalist and the CEO of the influential Philippine news portal Rappler. In June this year, she and a colleague were found guilty of cyberlibel, in a dubious court decision that many believe was politically motivated.Ressa has been a dogged and long-time critic of President Rodrigo Duterte, and of his supporters. The relationship between Ressa, as a journalist, and Duterte, as a political figure, dates back to …

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And now there is another unknown person ringing at my door.  Svetlana Alexievich, Belarus, 9 September 2020 The members of PEN Melbourne know full well what this knock at the door signifies for a writer  who has spoken out courageously against their tyrannical government. PEN Melbourne condemns the arbitrary arrests of members and staff of the Belarus PEN centre  for carrying out peaceful protests against the recent presidential election result following claims  that the vote was falsified. Those detained include …

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Julian Assange extradition hearing so far There has been a huge amount happening in and around the Julian Assange extradition hearing that resumed on 7th September at London’s Old Bailey. In this special newsletter we try to give you some of the highlights.The case began with a protest by hundreds of Julian Assange supporters in front of the court. The crowd was addressed by Tim Dawson from the National Union of Journalists, German MP Heike Hansel, Kristinn Hrafnsson editor-in chief …

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  Today marks the second year of Dr Kylie Moore-Gilbert’s incarceration in Iran, firstly in Evin Prison and more recently in Qarchak Prison, notorious for its human rights abuses. PEN Melbourne acknowledges the unimaginable anguish of Kylie’s family and the concern of  colleagues and friends – see below. We lend our support to the cause of bringing her home at the earliest opportunity.You can help by writing to the Minister for Foreign Affairs urging her to act, and by writing directly to …

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24 June 2020 The Australian Centres of PEN International condemn the charges recently brought in the Philippines against Maria Ressa and reporter Reynaldo Santos Jr of the Rappler news website. This is another instance of a ruthless leader, President Duterte, acting with impunity and silencing those who challenge his power. On 15 June, Maria Ressa, co-founder, CEO, and executive editor of the Rappler news website,and one of the Philippines most prominent journalists, was found guilty of ‘cyber-libel’ along with with …

As a member of PEN Melbourne, you will receive a monthly Update with news about our activities and campaigns, and invitations to a program of events with renowned Australian and international writers and activists. The PEN Melbourne Journal is also produced twice a year and distributed free to members.

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