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 PEN Melbourne

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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The fact that Rosie Scott’s friends have known the desperate state of her health for many months doesn’t lighten the blow of losing her. A fine writer, a beautiful and generous friend has gone from among us. Over the last decade and a half we have grown to admire the Rosie Scott who will continue to be admired even by those who didn’t have the good fortune to know her. Rosie was a hero in the fight to give voices to the despised and rejected, and to make Australia a more generous and right-thinking place than venal politicians have, it seems, have made it.

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We are very concerned for the safety of detained Kurdish journalist Behrouz Boochani, who has been reporting from within Australia’s immigration detention centre on Manus Island for more than three years.

Over the past week he has reported on the death of Faysal Ishak Ahmed, an inmate in the detention centre, and more recently on the beating of two refugees by immigration officers and police on Manus Island.

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As jailed journalist Peter Greste describes it, 2014 was his annus horribilus.

But in a New Year message the Al Jazeera correspondent wrote to NSW MP Shaoquette Moselmane, he said although it had been a tough year, he and his colleagues had found ‘extraordinary support from unexpected quarters’ and wanted to thank the NSW Parliament for passing a motion expressing support for the freedom of the press, human rights and the rule of law.

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At PEN Melbourne we’re excited about our partnership with The Mildura Writers Festival and have recently had the pleasure of offering the second Mildura Indigenous Writers Award, in association with the Mallee District Aboriginal Services. The winner for the 2016 prize is Sianlee Harris with her story, ‘Memories’. To read Harris’s story as well as more about PEN’s celebrations at Mildura, download the latest PEN Quarterly.

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Yes. The time has come for an amnesty. 

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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