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PEN Melbourne supports PEN International and PEN America’s statements on the Israel/OPT war.

January 15, 2024 IN WIP
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PEN Melbourne supports PEN International and PEN America’s statements on the Israel/OPT war.
In this dreadful time of war, PEN Melbourne maintains that our clear focus remains the acknowledgment of and campaign for writers at risk, those unjustly silenced, imprisoned and murdered for their peaceful work as journalists, storytellers, poets, bloggers.
The PEN America statement linked here is based on research into the deaths of Palestinian and Israeli writers and tells the stories of some of those who are not simply “numbers killed”.  The dead are named and their work is made known to us, their lives are honoured in this way.
“If ever there was a moment for fostering understanding and solidarity, it is now. Yet the people we turn to in dark times – the writers, artists, journalists and creatives whose work motivates empathy, spurs collaboration, and ignites dreams of a peaceful future – are themselves victims of this war. Their voices are being suppressed, and some completely extinguished.”
Likewise, PEN International has published several statements since the war began that call for a ceasefire and the cessation of the killing of innocent citizens, including those attempting to report from the war zones.
“PEN International is horrified by the mounting toll of civilian casualties and the catastrophic humanitarian situation in Gaza. The organisation calls for an immediate ceasefire, the protection of civilians, including the release of all hostages, and the end of the siege imposed on Gaza.
Indiscriminately harming innocent civilians is unacceptable, whether it is the result of attacks by Hamas or bombardments by Israeli forces. Blocking the delivery of prompt and effective humanitarian aid to Gaza will only impact innocent civilians. Such conduct unquestionably violates international humanitarian law and must be halted immediately. A ceasefire must be enacted now. Let humanity win,” said Burhan Sonmez, PEN International President.
Christine McKenzie
President

PEN Melbourne
Dissent is not terrorism
Journalism is not a crime
Literature knows no frontiers and must remain common currency among people in spite of political or international upheavals’.

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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