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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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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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  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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PEN International and 38 civil society organisations deplore the decision by a Turkish court to ban access to Germany-based online radio station Özgürüz (‘We Are Free’), which is headed by Can Dündar. We call on the Turkish authorities to reverse the decision, to stop the harassment of Dündar and to reform the country’s laws and judicial practice so that internet freedom can be guaranteed. On 16 June, the Ankara 4th Criminal Court of the Peace banned access to the station …

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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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Elchin Mammad | Credit: Mammad’s Facebook page PEN International is highly concerned about the arrest and continued detention of reporter, lawyer and human rights defender Elchin Mammad. On 30 March 2020, a few days after Mammad published a critical report on the human rights situation in Azerbaijan, police arrested him at his home, claiming to have found stolen jewellery in his office. The next day, Sumgait City Court remanded Mammad in custody for three months as …

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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