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15 March 2017

JOINT ORAL STATEMENT ON THE DETERIORATION OF FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION AND MEDIA FREEDOM IN TURKEY

UN Human Rights Council 34th Special Session 
Item 4: Human rights situations that require the Council’s attention
Delivered by Sarah Clarke, PEN International
15 March 2017

Mr President,

PEN International, ARTICLE 19 and 66 organisations are deeply concerned by the continuous deterioration of freedom of expression and media freedom in Turkey following the violent and contemptible coup attempt on 15 July 2016.

Over 180 news outlets have been shut down under laws passed by presidential decree following the imposition of a state of emergency.  There are now at least 148 writers, journalists and media workers in prison, including Ahmet Şık,1 Kadri Gürsel, Ahmet and Mehmet Altan, Ayşe Nazlı Ilıcak and İnan Kızılkaya, making Turkey the biggest jailer of journalists in the world.  The Turkish authorities are abusing the state of emergency by severely restricting fundamental rights and freedoms, stifling criticism and limiting the diversity of views and opinions available in the public sphere.2

Restrictions have reached new heights in the lead up to a crucial referendum on constitutional reforms, which would significantly increase executive powers, set for 16 April 2017. The Turkish authorities’ campaign has been marred by threats, arrests and prosecutions of those who have voiced criticism of the proposed amendments.  Several members of the opposition have been arrested on terror charges. Thousands of public employees, including hundreds of academics and opponents to the constitutional reforms, were dismissed in February. Outspoken “No” campaigners have been detained, adding to the overall climate of suspicion and fear. The rights to freedom of expression and information, essential to fair and free elections, are in jeopardy.

In the run-up to the referendum, the need for media pluralism is more important than ever.  Voters have the right to be duly informed and to be provided with comprehensive information on all views, including dissenting voices, in sufficient time. The prevailing atmosphere should be one of respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms. There should be no fear of reprisals.

We urge this Council, its members and observer states, to call on the Turkish authorities to:

  • Guarantee equal broadcasting time for all parties and allow for the dissemination of all information to the maximum extent possible in order to ensure that voters are fully informed;
  • Put an end to the climate of suspicion and fear by:
  • Immediately releasing all those held in prison for exercising their rights to freedom of opinion and expression;
  • Ending the prosecutions and detention of journalists simply on the basis of the content of their journalism or alleged affiliations;
  • Halting executive interference with independent news organisations including in relation to editorial decisions, dismissals of journalists and editors, pressure and intimidation against critical news outlets and journalists;
  • Revoke the excessively broad provisions under the state of emergency, the application of which, in practice, are incompatible with Turkey’s human rights obligations.

Thank you Mr. President

ActiveWatch – Media Monitoring Agency
Adil Soz – International Foundation for Protection of Freedom of Speech
Albanian Media Institute
Americans for Democracy & Human Rights in Bahrain
ARTICLE 19
Association of European Journalists
Basque PEN
Brazilian Association for Investigative Journalism
Canadian Journalists for Free Expression
Cartoonists Rights Network International
Center for Independent Journalism – Hungary
Croatian PEN centre
Danish PEN
Digital Rights Foundation
English PEN
European Centre for Press and Media Freedom
European Federation of Journalists
Finnish PEN
Foro de Periodismo Argentino
German PEN
Global Editors Network
Gulf Centre for Human Rights
Human Rights Watch
Icelandic PEN
Independent Chinese PEN Center
Independent Journalism Center – Moldova
Index on Censorship
Institute for Media and Society
International Press Institute
International Publishers Association
Journaliste en danger
Media Foundation for West Africa
Media Institute of Southern Africa
Media Watch
MYMEDIA
Nigeria PEN Centre
Norwegian PEN
Pacific Islands News Association
Pakistan Press Foundation
Palestine PEN
PEN American Center
PEN Austria
PEN Canada
PEN Catal
PEN Centre in Bosnia and Herzegovina
PEN Centre of German-Speaking Writers Abroad
PEN Eritrea in exile
PEN Esperanto
PEN Estonia
PEN France
PEN International
PEN Melbourne
PEN Myanmar
PEN Romania
PEN Suisse Romand
PEN Trieste
Portuguese PEN Centre
Punto24
Reporters Without Borders
Russian PEN Centre
San Miguel PEN
Serbian PEN Centre
Social Media Exchange – SMEX
South East Europe Media Organisation (SEEMO)
South East European Network for Professionalization of Media
Vigilance pour la Démocratie et l’État Civique
Wales PEN Cymru
World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers (WANIFRA)

 


 

 

 

Turkey: journalist Deniz Yücel arrested in latest crackdown on media freedom

2 March 2017 – The arrest of Turkish-German journalist Deniz Yücel marks an alarming new chapter in Turkey’s assault on freedom of expression, said PEN International and German PEN today, as they called on the Turkish authorities to release him and other detained journalists and writers immediately.

Deniz Yücel, who works for the German newspaper Die Welt, was formally charged on 27 February 2017 with spreading terrorist propaganda and incitement to hatred. He had been held in detention since 14 February 2017.

“The arrest of Deniz Yücel signals a dangerous escalation of the Turkish authorities’ crackdown on media freedom,” said Jennifer Clement, PEN International President. “By prosecuting a German journalist, the authorities are clearly attempting to muzzle the foreign press and intimidate all journalists into silence.”

“We cannot accept this and have to fight for Deniz Yücel’s immediate release by all means”, said Sascha Feuchert, Vice President of German PEN.

Since the failed coup attempt of 15 July 2016, the Turkish authorities have cracked down on writers, journalists, media organisations, publishing houses, the judiciary and political opponents, resulting in a near total silencing of critical voices.

“More than 150 writers and journalists are currently behind bars, making Turkey the biggest jailer of journalists in the world,” said Josef Haslinger, President of German PEN. “The Turkish authorities must immediately release all those held in prison for exercising their right to freedom expression.”

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: Aurelia.dondo@pen-international.org


January 30, 2017

Menna Elfyn
Photo credit: Aled Llywelyn

Wales PEN Cymru’s President, Menna Elfyn, joins world writers in solidarity with Turkey’s imprisoned writers Read here.
Mae Llywydd  Wales PEN Cymru yn ymuno gyda ysgrifenwyr y byd i ddangos ein cydgefnogaeth i’r awduron yn Nhwrci sydd wedi eu carcharu Darllenwch yma.

 

Leading world writers join PEN in a message of solidarity to fellow writers, protesting the heavy-handed crackdown against free expression in the country.

 

 

 

 

 

There are now close to 150 writers and journalist in prison making Turkey the biggest jailer of journalists in the world, surpassing China, Eritrea and Egypt. Nobel laureates Elfriede Jelinek, J.M Coetzee and Mario Vargas Llosa join writers Elif Shafak, Margaret Atwood, Salman Rushdie,  Ian Rankin, Jonathan Franzen, John Ashbery, Elena Poniatowska, Tariq Ali, Yann Martel, poet Adonis, artist Ai Weiwei, investigative journalists Lydia Cacho and Khadija Ismayilova as well as over 20 PEN Centres presidents in solidarity with Turkey’s writers.

 Since the failed coup on 15 July 2016, Turkish authorities have cracked down on writers, journalists, media organisations, publishing houses, the judiciary and political opponents, resulting in a near total silencing of critical voices.

In PEN’s message of solidarity, the writers say:

‘We are writing to you to let you know that you are not alone. We are writing to tell you that we will not stand idly by in your time of need. We will not be silent while your human rights are violated. We will raise our global voice against any effort to silence yours.’

 The message of solidarity was published today as PEN International’s high-level mission to assess the situation for freedom of expression in Turkey ends. The mission was led by PEN International president Jennifer Clement; Chairman of the Nobel Prize for Literature Per Wästberg, President Emeritus John Ralston Saul; Vice-President Eugene Schoulgin; Turkish writers Burhan Sönmez and Zülfü Livaneli; German writer Peter Schneider; publishers Eva Bonnier and Ronald Bluden; and PEN Centre presidents Iman Humaydun, William Nygaard, Vida Ognjenovic, and Urtzi Urrutikoetxea.

In their week-long visit, the high-level mission met with writers, journalists, human rights defenders, civils society actors, as well as Minister of Culture Nabi Avcı, party leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu and MP’s and representatives from across Turkey’s political landscape. The delegation also visited the offices of newspapers currently facing Turkey’s increasing clampdown: Cumhuriyet Daily, BirGün Daily, Agos daily, Evrensel daily and Özgürlükçü Demokrasi daily.

 PEN International has been campaigning on free expression issues in Turkey for decades and will continue to campaign for the freedom of those imprisoned solely for exercising their right to free expression.

PEN International president Jennifer Clement said: ‘Freedom of expression is protected both by Turkey’s constitution and by international law. President Erdoğan’s ongoing campaign to muzzle all dissident voices in Turkey must be met with resistance. That is why we are proud to be here today, figures from across PEN’s global community, standing in active and public solidarity with our friends and colleagues in Turkey.’

View this online

For more information contact Campaigns and Communications Manager: Sahar.halaimzai@pen-international.org

 


 

January 12th 2017

A message for Wales PEN Cymru on the ongoing dire situation for journalists in Turkey

In December, 2016, from the symposium of the International Rehabilitation Council for Torture Victims (IRCT) in Mexico City, Metin Bakkalci and Sebnem Korur Fincanci of Human Rights Foundation of Turkey sent the following message:

SKF: We would like to begin by thanking Wales PEN Cymru, for asking us for a message and for their support and solidarity. We have always felt Wales PEN Cymru by our side and we thank our friends from Wales PEN Cymru who have attended our hearings. The situation in Turkey is very dire; some of our journalist friends have now been imprisoned for very long times. As of now, over 140 journalists are imprisoned in Turkey and we are working for the release of all imprisoned journalists including Asli Erdogan and Necmiye Alpay. We have to remember that Ozgur Gundem journalists are in prison and every time a supporter of Ozgur Gundem is detained, these journalists are being taken from prisons so their statements can be taken. This involves inhumane and torturous treatment of these journalists as they are being searched every time that they are taken from the prison and brought back there. What is now being experienced by Inan and Zana is to a scale of torture. Considering all of these, solidarity is very important and we can be creative in how we establish and/or maintain the solidarity and as Wales PEN Cymru suggested it may be a good way of doing this by exchange of letters between a journalist in Turkey and in Wales and other countries.

MB: Human-rights is a whole concept and although hierarchies cannot be established within this concept, we have to express that freedom of expression has a very prominent bearing as when freedom of expression is compromised everything gets darker and this darkness then allows all kinds of malice and violence to emerge. Therefore, in Turkey as dear Sebnem expressed, primarily but not exclusively journalist and thousands of others are in prison and numerous organisations involved in defending human-rights are closed. We know that Turkey has experienced similar woes in recent history and we have experienced these with much suffering and we know that the current situation cannot continue. This is of course something we suffer as people of Turkey however what is compromised is human rights and human rights are universal and therefore the support and contribution of Wales PEN Cymru is beyond importantance and invaluable. We also need to remind ourselves that it is not only Turkey, there is a cloud of darkness all over the world but we will overcome this, and this solidarity is how we will overcome this.

SKF: There also are Freedom Watches, first one was started a long time ago by academics outside Bakirkoy Prison and now another one outside Caglayan Court House, a justice and freedom watch. These Freedom Watches have become our breathing space, the way that we sense each other. Our wish is of course not to hold Freedom Watches but to live in a world where we can speak out freely with our human-rights defender friends and we will do all we can to this end. As for the human rights organisations, we would like to express that shutting down of these organisations would not stop us from continuing to defend human rights, we will continue to challenge violation of human rights in every way possible, and this challenge is an internationalist challenge. We will continue to with our internationalist struggle to be the voice of people in any country suffering from oppression to voice their ideas and concerns and we thank Wales Pen Cymru for supporting us in our struggle.

As Wales Pen Cymru we asked the Sebnem Korur Fincanci about her personal experience of imprisonment.

SKF: My own imprisonment was very short so I did not experience as much hardship as our journalists, academics and other human-rights defenders friends but still having to lose your freedom is in itself is an unbearable situation. My own experience of imprisonment gave me an opportunity to observe circumstances of prison; in this regard, I consider it as an opportunity because we as human rights organisations are not allowed to enter into prisons. This is not specific to this particular government but we have always been prevented from entering prisons and making independent observations. Thus having to be imprisoned allowed us to observe the prison system from within. I was able to observe both the circumstances of prisoners and the inhumane working conditions of the prison staff and to share these observations with the world. Hence, Wales PEN Cymru asking us about this is very important in delivering these observations to wider audience.

MB: In Turkey prisons are a very big problems and how the prisons governed changes with the political climate of a period. We can find these circumstances at times to be slightly loosened and at other times completely tightened. Unfortunately, in the recent period, after release of Sebnem and following the unfortunate event of an attempted coup in Turkey due to the State of Emergency the circumstances of prisons further worsened. In the past ten years, the population of prisons are quadrupled by increasing from 55.000 to over 200.000. This is now a big problem both in terms of maintaining daily functions of the prisons and for the inmates.

SKF: Also we would like to express that we are facing new challenges in relation to the prison system since the military coup. There is a mounting pressure on prison staff, in particular on the prison guards not to show any leniency to prisoners and be extremely harsh with them. Otherwise they can be accused of being a member of FETO or other terrorist organisations and they may be arrested. We have had a case with a doctor of Bakirkoy Prison who is only recently released and similar problems experienced by the prison guards of Bakirkoy Prison too. A prison guard at Bakirkoy Prison attempts to stop another prison guard from kicking a woman lying on the floor, for his actions he was arrested on the charges of being a member of FETO Organisation. In Turkey, prison system have always been problematic, although certain improvements were achieved through the struggle of imprisoned human rights defenders, since the coup attempt the entire system regressed back to earlier times in its functioning. Now, in prisons there are restrictions of books allowed in, restrictions on visiting rights and even basic survival needs cannot be met and problems due to overpopulation of the prisons. Due to overpopulation, there is a lack of sufficient number of beds and prisoners are forced to use the beds in turns and alternate sleeping times.

MB: Finally, I would like to talk about another recent situation because you are PEN. In recent times, because of State of Emergency, by creating ‘a decree pursuant to the Legislation’ (Kanun Hükmünde Kararname), which is at best an unlawful implementation; they shut down over 165 print and visual media outlet. Thus, for people it is now not possible to access to and share information through traditional means of media. We know that truths cannot be covered and constricted forever and we are the pursuer of these truths by the nature of our roles. However, this remains a significant problem, we live in an environment where over 165 media outlets were banned and closed arbitrarily in a very short space of time and people’s right to information have been seriously compromised.

SFK: We also need to remember that other media outlets are also facing the same threat as they may be banned and shut down any time. In Turkey, now even the mainstream media is afraid of articulating their opinions and being threatened into silence. Right to access to information and share information is pivotal but our right to information is violated and what we can access to is now unfortunately is almost limited to social media.

 

*The International Rehabilitation Council for Torture Victims (IRCT) an organisation consisting of 152 centres providing annual rehabilitation services to an estimated 100.000 victims of torture in 74 countries, convened 132 members and experts for its 10th IRCT Scientific Symposium to share their knowledge with over 400 participants in Mexico City between 4th and 7th of December.

Ionawr 13eg 2017

Neges i Wales PEN Cymru am sefyllfa parhaol newyddiadurwyr yn Nhwrci

Ym mis Rhagfyr 2016, yn simposiwn y Cyngor Adsefydlu Rhyngwladol ar gyfer Dioddefwyr Artaith (IRCT) ym Mexico City, anfonodd Metin Bakkalci a Sebnem Korur Fincanci o Gymdeithas Hawliau Dynol Twrci y neges ganlynol.

SKF: Hoffem ni ddechrau gan ddiolch i Wales PEN Cymru, am ofyn inni am neges ac am eu cymorth ac undod. Rydym ni wastad wedi teimlo bod Wales PEN Cymru wrth ein hochr a hoffem ni ddiolch i’n ffrindiau o Wales PEN Cymru sydd wedi mynychu ein gwrandawiadau. Mae’r sefyllfa yn Nhwrci yn arswydus; mae rhai o’n ffrindiau sy’n newyddiadurwyr wedi cael eu carcharu am amser hir. Ar hyn o bryd, mae dros 140 o newyddiadurwyr yn y carchar yn Nhwrci ac rydym ni’n gweithio at ryddhau pob newyddiadurwr sydd yn y carchar gan gynnwys Asli Erdogan a Necmiye Alpay. Mae rhaid inni gofio fod newyddiadurwyr Ozgur Gundem yn y carchar a phob tro mae cefnogwr Ozgur Gundem yn cael ei gadw’n gaeth, mae’r newyddiadurwyr hyn yn cael eu cymryd o’r carchar er mwyn i’w datganiadau cael eu cofnodi. Mae hyn yn golygu bod y newyddiadurwyr yn cael eu trin yn annynol ac yn arteithiol gan eu bod nhw’n cael eu chwilio bob tro maent yn gadael a chyrraedd y carchar. Mae Inan a Zana nawr yn wynebu gradd o artaith. Gan ystyried yr holl bethau hyn, mae undod yn bwysig iawn ac rydym ni’n gallu bod yn greadigol wrth sut yr ydym yn sefydlu a/neu gadw’r undod. Fel yr awgrymwyd gan Wales PEN Cymru, efallai mai anfon a derbyn llythyron rhwng newyddiadurwyr yn Nhwrci a Chymru a gwledydd eraill yn ffordd dda o wneud hyn.

MB: Mae hawliau dynol yn gysyniad, ac er na ellir sefydlu hierarchaethau o fewn y cysyniad hwn, mae rhaid inni fynegi bod rhyddid mynegiant yn cael effaith amlwg. Pan fo rhyddid mynegiant yn cael ei gyfaddawdu, mae popeth yn mynd yn dywyllach ac mae’r tywyllwch hwn yn galluogi pob math o falais a thrais i ymddangos. Felly yn Nhwrci, fel y dywedodd Sebnem annwyl, mae newyddiadurwyr, yn bennaf ond nid yn unig, a miloedd o bobl eraill yn y carchar ac mae nifer o sefydliadau sy’n ymwneud ag amddiffyn hawliau dynol wedi cau. Rydym ni’n ymwybodol bod Twrci wedi profi trafferthion tebyg yn ddiweddar ac rydym wedi cael profiad o ddioddef hyn ac rydym ni’n gwybod na all y sefyllfa presennol barhau. Wrth gwrs, mae hwn yn rhywbeth yr ydym ni’n dioddef ohono fel pobl Twrci, ond mae hawliau dynol yn cael eu cyfaddawdu. Mae hawliau dynol yn fyd-eang felly mae cefnogaeth a chyfraniad Wales PEN Cymru yn hynod bwysig a gwerthfawr. Mae rhaid inni hefyd atgoffa ein hunain mai nid Twrci yn unig sy’n dioddef. Mae tywyllwch ar draws y byd ond byddem ni’n goresgyn hyn, ac mae’r undod hyn yn hollbwysig.

SKF: Mae yna hefyd Wylfeydd Rhyddid, dechreuodd yr un cyntaf amser maeth yn ôl gan academyddion tu allan i Garchar Bakirkoy ac nawr mae yna un arall tu allan i Lys Caglayan, gwylfa gyfiawnder a rhyddid. Mae’r Gwylfeydd Rhyddid hyn wedi dod yn le inni anadlu, ffordd inni synhwyro’n gilydd. Ein gobaith yw i beidio dal Gwylfeydd Rhyddid a byw mewn byd lle allem ni siarad yn rhydd gyda’n ffrindiau sy’n amddiffyn hawliau dynol a byddwn yn gwneud popeth yn ein gallu er mwyn dod â diwedd i hyn. O ran sefydliadau hawliau dynol, hoffem fynegi na fydd cau’r sefydliadau hyn i lawr yn mynd i’n hatal rhag amddiffyn hawliau dynol. Byddem yn parhau i herio trosedd yn erbyn hawliau dynol ym mhob ffordd bosib, ac mae’r her hon yn un rhyngwladol. Byddem yn parhau gyda’n brwydr rhyngwladol i gynrychioli llais y bobl ym mhob gwlad sy’n dioddef o ormes er mwyn iddynt leisio’i syniadau a phryderon a diolchwn i Wales PEN Cymru am ein cefnogi yn ein brwydr.

Gofynnodd Wales PEN Cymru i Sebnem Korur Fincanci am ei phrofiad personol o fod yn y carchar.

SKF: Roedd fy ngharchariad i yn fyr iawn felly nid oeddwn i’n dioddef gymaint o galedi â’n newyddiadurwyr, academyddion ac amddiffynwyr hawliau dynol eraill, ond mae colli eich rhyddid ei hun yn sefyllfa annioddefol. Roedd fy mhrofiad o’r carchar wedi rhoi’r cyfle imi weld amgylchiadau carchar; yn hyn o beth, rydw i’n ystyried hyn yn gyfle gan nad ydym ni, fel sefydliadau hawliau dynol, yn cael mynychu’r carchardai. Nid yw hyn yn benodol ar gyfer y llywodraeth hon ond rydym wastad wedi cael ein gwahardd rhag fynychu carchardai a chreu sylwadau annibynnol. Felly roedd bod yn y carchar yn ein galluogi i weld y carchar o’r tu fewn. Roeddwn i’n gallu gweld amgylchiadau’r carcharorion ac amodau annynol staff y carchar a rhannu’r sylwadau hyn gyda’r byd. Felly, mae Wales PEN Cymru yn gofyn inni am hyn yn bwysig iawn wrth ddarparu’r sylwadau hyn at gynulleidfa ehangach.

MB: Mae carchardai yn Nhwrci yn broblem fawr ac mae hinsawdd gwleidyddol y cyfnod yn effeithio ar lywodraethu’r carchar. Gall yr amgylchiadau hyn fod yn llac ar adegau ac yn hollol dynn ar adegau eraill. Yn anffodus, yn y cyfnod diweddar, ar ôl rhyddhau Sebnem ac yn dilyn y digwyddiad anffodus o ymgais ar coup yn Nhwrci oherwydd y Cyflwr Argyfwng, daeth amgylchiadau’r carchar yn waeth fyth. Dros y ddeng mlynedd diwethaf, mae poblogaeth carchardai wedi cynyddu pedair gwaith o 55,000 i dros 200,000. Mae hyn yn broblem o ran cadw swyddogaethau dyddiol y carchardai ac ar ran y carcharorion.

SKF: Hoffem ni hefyd fynegi ein bod ni’n wynebu heriau newydd o ran system y carchar ers y coup milwrol. Mae yna straen gynyddol ar staff carchardai, yn enwedig ar warchodwyr carchardai i beidio â dangos unrhyw drugaredd tuag at garcharon ac i fod yn greulon iawn iddynt. Fel arall, gallwn nhw gael eu cyhuddo o fod yn aelod o FETO neu sefydliadau terfysgol eraill a chael eu harestio. Roedd yna achos gyda meddyg o Garchar Bakirkoy a gafodd ei ryddhau’n ddiweddar, roedd problemau tebyg gyda gwarchodwyr Carchar Bakirkoy, hefyd. Ceisiodd gwarchodwr Carchar Bakiroy atal gwarchodwr arall rhag gicio menyw a oedd yn gorwedd ar y llawr, ac am ei ymddygiad, cafodd ei arestio a’i gyhuddo o fod yn aelod o Sefydliad FETO. Yn Nhwrci, mae systemau carchar o hyd wedi bod yn broblem, er bod rhai pethau wedi gwella ar ôl i amddiffynwyr hawliau dynol cael eu carcharu, mae’r holl system wedi llithro’n ôl ers yr ymgais ar coup. Nawr, mae yna gyfyngiadau ar lyfrau, hawliau ymweld ac nad yw anghenion goroesi yn cael eu bodloni o achos yr orboblogaeth mewn carchardai. Oherwydd hyn, mae yna diffyg nifer o welyau ac mae rhaid i garcharorion rhannu’r gwelyau a chymryd eu tro i gysgu ynddynt ar adegau gwahanol.

MB: Yn olaf, hoffwn i drafod sefyllfa diweddar arall oherwydd rydych chi’n rhan o PEN. Yn ddiweddar, oherwydd y Cyflwr Argyfwng, gan greu ‘archddyfarniad yn unol â’r ddeddfwriaeth’ (Kanun Hükmünde Kararname), sy’n weithred anghyfreithlon; cafodd dros 165 o allfeydd cyfryngau gweledol eu cau. Felly, nad yw’n bosib i bobl gael mynediad at wybodaeth a’i rhannu trwy’r cyfryngau traddodiadol. Rydym ni’n gwybod na all y gwir cael ei grybwyll ac maent yn gyfyngedig, ac ni yw erlynydd y gwir o ganlyniad i natur ein rolau. Fodd bynnag, mae hyn yn dal i fod yn broblem fawr, rydym yn byw mewn amgylchedd lle mae dros 165 o allfeydd cyfryngau wedi cael eu gwahardd a’u cae dros gyfnod byr o amser ac mae hawl y bobl i gael gwybodaeth wedi cael ei gyfaddawdu.

SFK: Mae rhaid inni hefyd gofio fod allfeydd cyfryngol eraill yn wynebu’r un bygythiad, gallent gael eu gwahardd a’u cau unrhyw bryd. Yn Nhwrci, mae’r cyfryngau prif frwd yn ofni mynegi barn ac yn cael eu bygwth i fod yn ddawel. Mae’r hawl i gael gwybodaeth a rhannu gwybodaeth yn ganolog ond mae ein rhyddid i gael gwybodaeth yn cael ei sathru a dim ond mynediad cyfyngedig at gyfryngau cymdeithasol sydd gennym ni.

*Mae Cyngor Adsefydlu Rhyngwladol ar gyfer Dioddefwyr Artaith (IRCT) yn sefydliad sy’n cynnwys 152 o ganolfannau sy’n darparu gwasanaethau adsefydlu blynyddol i tua 100,000 o ddioddefwyr artaith mewn 74 o wledydd, a gynulir 132 o aelodau ac arbenigwyr am ddegfed Syposiwm Gwyddonol IRCT er mwyn rhannu’r gwybodaeth gyda dros 400 o gyfranogwyr ym Mexico City rhwng 4ydd a 7fed Rhagfyr.


January 12th 2017

Caroline Stockford bears witness in Turkey

Caroline Stockford, translator and poet, Chair of Wales PEN Cymru’s Committee for Translation, Linguistic Rights and Writers in Prison, has just returned from Turkey where she represented PEN International as part of a delegation to observe the trial of two young Turkish journalists, Cemil Uğur and Halil Ibrahim Polat, in Mersin, South East Turkey.

The two young reporters were accused of membership of a terrorist organisation and of spreading terrorist propaganda for having been filming a gathering supporting the imprisoned leader of the PKK in Mersin in August 2016.

The prosecution demanded a fifteen year prison sentence for both men but following the production of no evidence by the prosecution, apart from a fake one dollar bill found at the house of one of the defendants and a flyer publicising a pro-Kurdish rally, the case was adjourned until the 3rd of March. Halil Ibrahim Polat was freed with no conditions and Cemil Uğur was released from prison in Adana and bound over to sign at the police station daily until the 3rd of March. Neither are permitted to leave the country.

There was great national and international solidarity in the court room and the delegation included the General Secretary of the Turkish Journalists’ Union, the General Secretary of DISK Union, Press Affairs, Selma Gürkan, head of the Turkish Labour Party, the head of the recently-banned Diyarbakır Free Press Association and the editor and journalists from Evrensel newspaper.

Following the trial Wales PEN Cymru’s Caroline Stockford had the following to say:

“We know that by observing trials we can play an important role in obtaining positive outcomes for journalists and for press freedom in Turkey.”

Sally Baker, Director of Wales PEN Cymru, said: “Thanks to the extraordinary work of Caroline Stockford, we as Wales PEN Cymru, have a voice and a way to protest against the abuses, the injustices and the lack of freedom of speech in Turkey today. We can at the very least bear witness. ”

Caroline Stockford, poet and translator, lived for many years in Turkey, and is a fluent Turkish speaker. This is the second trial that she has “observed” on behalf of PEN. In September she was in court in Istanbul to observe the trial of three senior editors of Taraf daily newspaper and she joined others to hold a vigil for writer Aslı Erdoğan outside the women’s prison in Bakırköy, Istanbul.

In As Chair of Wales PEN Cymru’s Committee for Translation, Linguistic Rights and Writers in Prison, she has been leading on a project which aims to highlight and help to support the Kurdish language in Turkey. In 2016 she spoke on behalf of Wales PEN Cymru at conferences on Translation and Linguistic Rights in South Africa and in Amsterdam and she represented Wales PEN Cymru at the 82nd PEN International Congress in Ourense.

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Ionawr 13eg 2017

Caroline Stockford yn dwyn tystiolaeth yn Nhwrci

Mae Caroline Stockford, bardd, cyfieithydd a Chadeirydd Pwyllgorau Cyfieithu a Hawliau Ieithyddol ac Ysgrifenwyr a Garcharwyd Wales PEN Cymru newydd ddychwelyd o Dwrci lle bu’n cynrychioli PEN Rhyngwladol fel rhan o ddirprwyaeth i arsylwi achos dau newyddiadurwr ifanc o Dwrci, Cemil Uğur a Halil Ibrahim Polat, ym Mersin, De Ddwyrain Twrci.

Cyhuddwyd y ddau newyddiadurwr ifanc o fod yn aelodau o sefydliad terfysgol ac o ledaenu propaganda am iddynt ffilmio tyrfa yn cefnogi arweinydd y PKK a garcharwyd ym Mersin yn ystod mis Awst 2016.

Galwodd yr erlyniad am ddedfryd o bymtheg mlynedd o garchar i’r ddau ond gohiriwyd yr achos tan 3 Mawrth oherwydd na ddaeth unrhyw dystiolaeth i law o du’r erlyniad heblaw am fil $1 ffug a gafwyd yn nhŷ un o’r diffynyddion ynghyd â ffleiar cyhoeddusrwydd i rali dros Gwrdiaid. Rhyddhawyd Halil Ibrahim Polat yn ddi-amod a rhyddhawyd Cecil Uǧur yn Adana yn amodol ei fod yn arwyddo yng ngorsaf yr heddlu’n ddyddiol tan 3 Mawrth. Ni chaiff yr un o’r ddau adael y wlad.

Dangoswyd cydsafiad cenedlaethol a rhyngwladol yn y llys ac ‘roedd y ddirprwyaeth yn cynnwys Ysgrifennydd Cyffredinol Undeb Newyddiadurwyr Twrci, Ysgrifennydd Cyffredinol Undeb DISK, Materion y Wasg, Selma Gürkan, pennaeth Plaid Lafur Twrci, pennaeth Cymdeithas Wasg Rydd Diyarbakır a waharddwyd yn ddiweddar ynghyd â golygydd a newyddiadurwyr o’r papur newydd Evrensel.

Yn dilyn yr achos dywedodd Caroline Stockford ar ran Wales PEN Cymru:

“Gwyddom y gallwn, wrth arsylwi achosion, chwarae rhan bwysig mewn sicrhau canlyniadau positif i newyddiadurwyr ac i’r wasg rydd yn Nhwrci.”

Dywedodd Sally Baker, Cyfarwyddwr Wales PEN Cymru: “Diolch i waith eithriadol Caroline Stockford, mae gennym ni, fel Wales PEN Cymru, lais a modd i brotestio’n erbyn y cam-drin, yr anghyfiawnder a’r diffyg rhyddid i fynegiant yn Nhwrci heddiw. Gallwn ddwyn tystiolaeth fan leiaf.”

Bu Caroline Stockford, bardd a chyfieithydd, yn byw am flynyddoedd maith yn Nhwrci ac mae’n siarad yr iaith yn rhugl. Dyma’r ail achos iddi “arsylwi” arno ar ran PEN. Ym mis Medi ‘roedd yn y llys yn Istanbwl i arsylwi achos tri o uwch olygyddion y papur newydd dyddiol Taraf ac ymunodd ag eraill i gadw gwylnos i’r ygrifennwr Aslı Erdoğan y tu allan i’r carchar i ferched yn Bakırköy, Istanbwl.

Fel Cadeirydd Pwyllgorau Cyfieithu, Hawliau Ieithyddol ac Ysgrifenwyr a Garcharwyd Wales PEN Cymru, bu’n arwain ar brosiect sy’n anelu at amlygu a chynorthwyo i gefnogi’r iaith Gwrdaidd yn Nhwrci. Yn 2016, siaradodd ar ran Wales PEN Cymru mewn cynadleddau ar Gyfieithu a Hawliau Ieithyddol yn Ne Affrica ac Amsterdam a chynrychiolodd Wales PEN Cymru yn 82fed Cyngres Ryngwladol PEN yn Ourense.

 


Wales PEN Cymru joins International Human Rights Delegation to Turkey

turkey-mission

Chair of the Translation, Linguistic Rights and Writers in Prison Committee of Wales PEN Cymru, Turkish translator Caroline Stockford took part in a fact-finding mission to Istanbul from the 31st of August to the 2nd of September to report on the state of freedom of the press and to witness the trial of Tafaf Newspaper Editor Ahmet Altan, reporters Yasemin Çongar, Mehmed Baransu and former Editor Yıldıray Oğur.

 

Meetings with newspapers, television stations and the Turkish Union of Journalists

During the week we met with opposition and independent newspapers such as Evrensel, Birgün and Cumhuriyet.

The general opinion is that the situation for journalism and freedom of the press in Turkey is going to get a lot worse.  Press cards are being cancelled and permits to attend Government press briefings are being denied to opposition newspapers.  Kurdish reporters in the South East are being told by police that it is illegal to report under the State of Emergency.  Evrensel newspaper told us that two of their journalists Cemil Ugur and Halil Ibrahim Polat had been arrested on the 23rd of August in the province of Mardin and held in custody for eight days with no access to legal representation.

Under the SOE members of the public suspected of having taken part in the coup, or of having Gülenist sympathies are being arrested and detained for up to 30 days with no legal advice for the first 5 days.  It is widely believed that the SOE is being abused in order to purge society of writers, thinkers and journalists that are critical of the administration.  Forty thousand prisoners in Turkish jails have been scheduled for early parole to make way for those arrested under suspicion of playing a part in the failed coup.  These suspects include writers and journalists, academics and civil servants.

We also visited two television stations, IMC TV and Hayatın Sesi.  The former reported that their cable broadcast licence had been cancelled due to their showing an interview they had conducted with a member of the outlawed PKK.  This is despite state-run stations broadcasting similar interviews.  IMC TV report from a humanitarian, ecological and gender balanced point of view and, like other independent television stations such as Hayatın Sesi, they face constant fines for having potentially ‘insulted the President’ or for broadcasting from the sites of suicide bombings in Turkey seconds after a blanket-broadcast ban had been introduced by the television regulating authority.

At least 15 journalists were arrested and detained during the four-day mission of our delegation which was led by Article 19 and representatives from Danish PEN, the European Federation of Journalists, German PEN, Index on Censorship, My Media, the Norwegian Press Association, the Norwegian Union of Journalists, Norwegian PEN, PEN International, Reporters Without Borders, and Caroline Stockford, Chair of the Translation, Linguistic Rights and Writers in Prison Committee of Wales PEN Cymru.

___

Arrest and detention of leading female writers, journalists and linguists

When the Kuridsh newspaper Özgür Gündem was under threat in the SE of the country, a group of 68 journalists went to Diyarbakır over a period of 8 weeks to work for the newspaper and show solidarity.

Leading literary figure, Aslı Erdoğan has been in solitary confinement at Bakırköy Women’s Prison since 20th August.

This is taken from Hürriyet Daily News, 25th August:asli-erdogan-2

Aslı Erdoğan was a member of daily Özgür Gündem’s advisory board and columnist, is being held in solitary confinement and says she has been unable to get her necessary medicine for five days. 

“They are treating me in a way that will leave permanent damage on my body,” she told daily Cumhuriyet through her lawyer, Nesrullah Oğuz, adding that she is forced to sleep in a bed that someone previously urinated in.

“I’ve been experiencing problems in my intestines for 10 years. My pancreas and digestive system doesn’t work properly, but my medicine has not been given to me for five days. I am diabetic and I need a special nutrition. But in jail I am only able to eat yoghurt … Also, even though I suffer from asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, I have not been allowed access to open air [since entering prison],” Erdoğan said. 

There appears to be a danger of being accused of ‘affiliation with a terrorist organisation’ in Turkey at present for many who try to assist Kurdish causes or the call for peace talks and cessation of military activity in the SE of Turkey.

Another board member of the newspaper Özgür Gündem, Necmiye Alpay who is a writer and philologist in her seventies was arrested and remanded in custody at Bakırköy prison on 31st August.  She is being charged with spreading propaganda regarding a terrorist organsiation and ‘disrupting the unity of the state’  In their statement on the 9th of September, 2016 PEN International said the following:

necmiye-alpay
PEN International is deeply concerned by the arrest of renowned writer and linguist Necmiye Alpay on 31 August on terror charges as a part of an ongoing investigation into closed daily Özgür Gündem, which has also seen writer Aslı Erdoğan detained.

 On 31 August, Istanbul’s Eighth Criminal Court of Peace ordered the arrest of Alpay on charges of being a member of a terror organization and disrupting the unity of the state; she denies all charges against her. PEN believes that Alpay is being held solely for her peaceful exercise of her right to freedom of expression and is calling for her immediate and unconditional release.  

Wales PEN Cymru joined Danish PEN, German PEN, Norwegian PEN, Turkish PEN and over 200 others, including many Turkish writers and poets to demonstrate against the arrests of Aslı Erdoğan and Necmiye Alpay outside Bakırköy women’s prison on Friday 2nd September.

pen-pic

There were speeches, performances of poetry and theatre and several leading literary figures as well as the members of PEN Turkey expressed their gratitude to Wales PEN Cymru for their presence and solidarity.

Please consider sending postcards containing supportive messages in English to Necmiye Alpay and Aslı Erdoğan at the following address:

Ms. Necmiye Alpay
Bakırköy Kadın Kapalı Tutukevi
C-9 Koğuşu
Bakırköy – İstanbul – Turkey

Members writing in Welsh may send their messages to Wales PEN Cymru directly via Turkishinterpreterwales@gmail.com and have them sent on in Welsh and Turkish to both Necmiye Alpay and Aslı Erdoğan.

pen-pic-2

Observing the Taraf trial at the High Criminal Court, Istanbul

Wales PEN Cymru was among other PEN Centres, Embassies and Press Organisations in court to witness the Taraf Newspaper trial where Editor Ahmet Altan, reporters Yasemin Çongar, Mehmed Baransu and former Editor Yıldıray Oğur were before the three judges accused of having divulged state secrets in relation to a coup plot six years ago.

The case proceeded despite the fact that a new and unsigned indictment appeared to have been produced overnight and not submitted to defence.  The 246 page indictment the defence had received contained 45 pages copied and pasted from the indictment of Cumhuriyet Editor in Chief Can Dündar whose trial took place in 2015.  The words, ‘the defendant Can Dündar’ appeared on several pages of the indictment against the Taraf journalists.  New charges had been brought against the defendants accusing them of having a role in the most recent failed coup, of spying and of attempting to bring down the state.

At the end of the day’s hearing, a new date was set for the 23rd of November and the defendants (all but Mehmed Baransu who has been in custody for several years) were released.

Following this, on Saturday, September 10th, defendant Ahmet Altan and his brother Dr Mehmet Altan were both arrested and detained on charges of ‘giving subliminal messages to incite a coup’ in a television programme on which they appeared on the 14th of July 2016.

Wales PEN Cymru are deeply concerned that the State of Emergency and anti-terror laws in Turkey are being used indiscriminately to imprison outspoken writers, journalists and academics and to stifle freedom of speech in the country.

Below is a short message from co-defendant and journalist Yasemin Çongar regarding the Altan brothers:

The most critical 24 hours for Ahmet and Mehmet Altan

Dear Friends,

Thank you all for supporting our demand for the release of Ahmet and Mehmet Altan.

After 11 days in police custody where they did not see the sky, had only two small cans of food for the whole day, no tea, no coffee, no cigarettes, limited drinking water, no access to family, no tv, no papers, no lights out –they had to sleep in a brightly-lit room behind bars– they will be questioned by the police for the first time today. Then they will see the prosecutor and in all likelihood will be referred to the court with a demand for pre-trial imprisonment, which might mean months if not years in today’s Turkey.

Anything you can do in the next 24 hours –getting more people to sign the support letter as well as social media messages with hashtags #AhmetAltan #MehmetAltan and #LetAltansGoFree or, more importantly, any public statements you can make or help organise — will mean a lot.

Thank you.

Best,
Yasemin

We would urge you, as our members, to send us your ideas on campaigns of solidarity that we might run to assist Turkish journalists and writers at this difficult period in the history of Turkey.

Thank you for your ongoing support of Wales PEN Cymru.

Visit to Wales by Representatives of the Kyrgyzstan Government

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Representatives of the Kyrgystan Government came to Wales in the week beginning 7 March 2016, visiting Cardiff, where their programme was organized by the Welsh Government, and Aberystwyth where arrangements were in the hands of the writers’ organization Wales PEN Cymru and Aberystwyth University’s Mercator Institute / Wales Literature Exchange.

Toktobubu Ashymbaeva Abasovna, Deputy Minister of Education and Science of the Kyrgyz Republic and Ergeshov Zaiyrbek Jolchuevich, Deputy Head of the Department of Ethnic, Religious Policies and Interaction of the Kyrgyz Republic, were particularly interested in bilingual policies in the fields of education, culture and publishing, and took part in a whole morning of research seminars at the Mercator Institute.

Kyrgyz, a Turkic language, is spoken by a majority of the population but has been marginalized in many domains as a result of Russification policies in the former Soviet Union. The Kyrgystan Government is seeking to reestablish Kyrgyz as the national language while at the same time making provision for its own substantial Uzbek-speaking population and many smaller minorities who have historically used Russian rather than Kyrgyz as the lingua franca.

 

Daeth cynrychiolwyr Llywodraeth Cyrgistan i Gymru yn yr wythnos yn cychwyn Mawrth 7, 2016. Yng Nghaerdydd trefnwyd eu rhaglen gan Lywodraeth Cymru ac yn Aberystwyth gan Wales PEN Cymru (y gymdeithas awduron) a ‘r Gyfnewidfa Lên / Sefydliad Mercator ym Mhrifysgol Aberystwyth.

Y cynrychiolwyr oedd Toktobubu Ashymbaeva Abasovna, Dirprwy Weinidog Addysg a Gwyddoniaeth Gweriniaeth Cyrgistan, a Ergeshov Zaiyrbek Jolchuevich, Dirprwy Bennaeth Adran Polisiau Crefyddol ac Ethnig y Weriniaeth, ac yr oedd ganddynt lawer o ddiddordeb mewn polisiau dwyieithog ym meysydd addysg, diwylliant a chyhoeddi. Trefnwyd bore cyfan o seminarau yn Sefydliad Mercator ar eu cyfer.

I’r grwp ieithoedd Twrceg y perthyn iaith y Cyrgis, ac fe’i siaredir gan fwyafrif poblogaeth y Weriniaeth. Serch hynny fe’i gyrrwyd i’r ymylon gan bolisïau’r hen Undeb Sofietaidd o flaenoriaethu’r Rwseg mewn llawer o feysydd. Nod llywodraeth bresennol Cyrgistan yw ail-orseddu Cyrgis fel iaith genedlaethol tra’n darparu hefyd ar gyfer y lleiafrif sylweddol Wsbec ei hiaith, sydd, fel y lleiafrifoedd llai eraill, wedi arfer defnyddio’r Rwseg fel lingua franca.

photo3 mudiad feithrin

Aida Kereksizova, Sally Baker, Gwenllian Lansdown Davies, Toktobubu Ashymbaeva Abasovna, Elin Haf Gruffydd, Ergeshov Zaiyrbek Jolchuevich yn swyddfa y Mudiad Meithrin, Aberystwyth

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Turkey: Death of editor and journalist Rohat Aktaş in Cizre must be investigated

 25 February 2016 –  PEN International is deeply saddened and disturbed to learn of the death of Rohat Aktaş, editor and journalist for the Kurdish-language daily Azadiya Welat, killed while reporting from Cizre in Şırnak province in southeast Turkey. According to reports, Aktaş had travelled to the province to report on the 24-hour curfew imposed in the area by Turkish authorities.  Aktaş became trapped in a basement with dozens of others after he was shot in the arm while reporting on the efforts to help wounded civilians.

 According to media reports on 29 January Turkey’s Constitutional Court confirmed that it had issued an order to halt ambulance crews working in the area, on the grounds that it was too dangerous to reach the injured. Cizre, which has a majority Kurdish population, has been under curfew since 14 December following clashes between the Turkish military and Kurdish armed separatists

Rohat Aktaş died while trying to tell world about the plight of wounded civilians with little or no access to medical care in Cizre. Freedom of expression plays in invaluable role, particularly in times of conflict, to allow us to understand what is happening. We call on the Turkish authorities to conduct a swift, transparent and through investigation into the death of Rohat Aktaş and urge the government in Ankara to look for a peaceful and diplomatic solution to the conflict in southeast Turkey,’ said Salil Tripathi, Writers in Prisons Committee Chair, PEN International.

View this statement online here.

For more information please contact Communications & Campaigns Manager Sahar Halaimzai: Sahar.halaimzai@pen-international.org |m.  0044 7514139606 | t. +44 (0)20 7405 0338


 

Writers call on David Cameron to stop Turkey’s crackdown on freedom of speech

The following letter was sent from English PEN, Scottish PEN and Wales PEN Cymru to the Prime Minister, David Cameron, on January 16th, 2016

(See Guardian article: http://www.theguardian.com/books/2016/jan/15/writers-ask-david-cameron-to-halt-turkey-crackdown-on-freedom-of-speech)

As writers, journalists and members of PEN in the UK, we are writing to express our grave concerns about the unprecedented crackdown on freedom of expression in Turkey. We ask you to raise this issue with Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu on his visit to London as a matter of urgency.

Over the past five months, intimidation, threats and even physical assaults against journalists, writers and publishers have become the norm. This includes two attacks on the offices of the newspaper Hurriyet, including one supported by a serving Member of the Turkish Parliament; the raid and seizure of Koza Ipek Media, known for being critical of the President, and the detention of three journalists working for Vice News, alongside prosecutions of journalists and further arrests. More Turkish citizens have been criminally prosecuted for ‘insulting the Turkish President’ since President Erdogan assumed office in 2014 than in the combined tenure of all of his predecessors, dating back to 1923.

We are seriously concerned for the leading journalists Can Dϋndar, editor-in-chief of Turkish daily Cumhuriyet, and Erdem Gϋl, the paper’s Ankara bureau chief, who were arrested on espionage and national security charges on 26 November 2015 and continue to be held in pre-trial detention. The charges against them relate to an article and video published on the Cumhuriyet website on 29 May 2015 reporting that Turkey’s intelligence agency delivered arms to Islamist rebel groups. This is a story of clear public and global interest, and we are appalled that both journalists may face a maximum life sentence for the charge of divulging state secrets, a sentence of 20 years for espionage, and ten years for membership of a terrorist organisation, for a story that the authorities appear to have accepted is true.

It is vital that journalists in Turkey are allowed to perform their essential role in society, informing public debate and opinion without restraint or censorship. Attacks on journalists, writers and publishers diminish the freedom of Turkish society as a whole. The prevailing culture of impunity is, furthermore, depriving journalists and writers of necessary safeguards, exposing them to intimidation and even physical harm.
Prime Minister Davutoğlu is one of the few members of the Turkish government to have spoken in support of press freedom. His words have not, however, been followed by deeds. The Prime Minister’s visit to London is therefore an important opportunity to secure his unequivocal commitment to safeguarding freedom of expression in Turkey.

We hope that you will use this opportunity to urge the Prime Minister to ensure that his government acts in accordance with Turkey’s obligations to respect the right to freedom of expression.

Monica Ali

Alan Bissett

William Boyd

Chris Brookmyre

Gillian Clarke

Fflur Dafydd

Stevie Davies

Menna Elfyn (President, Wales PEN Cymru)

Moris Farhi MBE

Maureen Freely (President, English PEN)

Richard Gwyn

Mark Haddon

David Hare

Eva Hoffman

Hari Kunzru

Robert Minhinnick

Blake Morrison

Neel Mukherjee

Ian Rankin

Owen Sheers

Ali Smith

Tom Stoppard

Sarah Waters

 

 

Come to show your support for a poet who has been sentenced to death.

GWELER ISOD AM Y GYMRAEG

Wales PEN Cymru join  the World wide readings on January 14th  in support of  Ashraf Fayadh – sentenced to death by a court in Saudi Arabia.

As part of the world- wide readings on January 14th, Wales PEN  Cymru will hold a poetry reading to support  Ashraf Fayadh, a Palestinian poet and artist who was been sentenced to death in Saudi Arabia for his writings. The reading will be held in the  Preseli room in the Wales Millennium Centre  on the 14th January at 7 o’ clock, and  poets who are members of Wales PEN will be present to ‘ bear witness’ . They include the following:

Chris Meredith, Nia Davies, Clare Potter, Dominic Williams and Menna Elfyn.

Fayadh in a message to supporters said “I am grateful for everyone working on my behalf. To be honest, I was surprised and I’m struggling to follow all the developments. People should know that I am not against anyone here, I am an artist and I am just looking for my freedom.” Fayadh is a key member of the British-Saudi art organisation ‘Edge of Arabia.

He has denied all charges, which stem from his book of poetry. Fayadh,  who co-curated a show at the 2013 Venicle Biennale, was originally sentenced to four years in prison and 800 lashes for apostasy by the general court in Abha, a city in the south-west of the kingdom in May 2014. But after his appeal was dismissed, Fayadh was retried and a new panel of judges last week ruled that he should be executed.

That is why we condemn the verdict and wish to  bear witness by holding a public poetry reading on the 14th of January in Preseli Room in the Wales Millennium Centre.

 

 

Darlleniad Byd Eang i gefnogi Ashraf Fayadh

Nos Iau, Ionawr 14eg, 7 o’r gloch

Ystafell Preseli yng Nghanolfan y Mileniwm, Caerdydd

Darlleniadau  gan  Nia Davies, Chris Meredith, Clare Potter, Dominic Williams a Menna Elfyn

DARLLENIAD BARDDONIAETH FEL RHAN O DDARLLENIADAU BYD EANG

 

Ashraf  Fayadh a ddedfrydwyd i  farwolaeth gan lys barn yn Sawdi Arabia.

 

Fel rhan o ddarlleniadau ar draws y byd ar Ionawr  14, bydd Wales PEN Cymru yn cynnal darlleniad i gefnogi Ashraf Fayadh, bardd Palesteinaidd sydd wedi ei ddedfrydu i farwolaeth yn Sawdi Arabia am ei gyfrol o farddoniaeth. Bydd y darlleniad a gynhelir yn Stafell Preseli yng Nghanolfan y Mileniwm yn digwydd ar Ionawr 14, am 7 o’r gloch yr hwyr a bydd beirdd sy’n aelodau o PEN Cymru yn cymryd rhan  ac yn eu plith:

Chris Meredith, Nia Davies, Clare Potter, Dominic Williams a Menna Elfyn.

Dewch i ddangos eich cefnogaeth i’r bardd sydd wedi ei  ddedfrydu i farwolaeth am  ysgrifennu barddoniaeth y mae’r awdurdodau wedi barnu sydd yn sarhau eu cred. Dywed  Fayadh ‘Rwy’n ddiolchgar i bawb sy’n gweithio ar fy rhan. Rhaid dweud i mi gael syndod   ac rwy’n straffaglu i ddilyn y datblygiadau. Dylai pawb wybod nad wyf yn erbyn unrhyw un yma. Artist ydw i  sy’n arfer ei ryddid i greu. Mae’n aelod allweddol o sefydliad celf.”   Prydeinig- Sawdi, ‘Edge of Arabia’.

Mae  wedi gwadu pob cyhuddiad yn ei erbyn, cyhuddiadau sy’n deillio o’i lyfr o farddoniaeth. Bu’n cyd-guradu sioe yn  Biennale Fenis yn 2013, ac yn wreiddiol fe’i ddedfrydwyd i bedair blynedd o garchar a’i fflangellu  800  o weithiau gan lys yn Abha, dinas yn ne-orllewin y deyrnas ym Mai 2014.  Yna, wedi i’w apêl gael ei wrthod, trefnwyd achos arall yn ei erbyn a’i erlyn drachefn, gan banel newydd  o farnwyr a deddfrydwyd ef   eto, y tro hwn ,i gael ei ddienyddio.

Dyna pam rydym yn condemnio’r ddedfryd arno ac yn gwneud hynny gyda darlleniad cyhoeddus nos Iau  14 o Ionawr yn Stafell Preseli yng Nghanolfan y Mileniwm.

 

7 January 2016 

On the anniversary of the brutal attack on the offices of Charlie Hebdo we, the undersigned, reaffirm our commitment to the defence of the right to freedom of expression, even when that right is being used to express views that some may consider offensive.

The Charlie Hebdo attack, which left 11 dead and 12 wounded, was a horrific reminder of the violence to which journalists, artists and other critical voices are subjected in a global atmosphere marked by increasing intolerance of dissent.  The killings inaugurated a year that has proved especially challenging for proponents of freedom of opinion.

Non-state actors perpetrated violence against their critics largely with impunity, including the brutal murders of four secular bloggers in Bangladesh by Islamist extremists, and the killing of an academic, M M Kalburgi, who wrote critically against Hindu fundamentalism in India .

Despite the turnout of world leaders on the streets of Paris in an unprecedented display of solidarity with free expression following the Charlie Hebdo murders, artists and writers faced intense repression from governments throughout the year. In Malaysia, cartoonist Zunar is facing a possible 43-year prison sentence for alleged ‘sedition’; in Iran, cartoonist Atena Fardaghani is serving a 12-year sentence for a political cartoon; and in Saudi Arabia, Palestinian poet Ashraf Fayadh was sentenced to death for the views he expressed in his poetry.

Perhaps the most far-reaching threats to freedom of expression in 2015 came from governments ostensibly motivated by security concerns. Following the attack on Charlie Hebdo, 11 interior ministers from European Union countries including France, Britain and Germany issued a statement in which they called on Internet service providers to identify and remove online content ‘that aims to incite hatred and terror.’  In July, the French Senate passed a controversial law giving sweeping new powers to the intelligence agencies to spy on citizens, which the UN Human Rights Committee categorised as “excessively broad”.

This kind of governmental response promotes self-censorship. In order to fully exercise the right to freedom of expression, individuals must be able to communicate without fear of intrusion by the State. Under international law, the right to freedom of expression also protects speech that some may find shocking, offensive or disturbing. Importantly, the right to freedom of expression means that those who feel offended also have the right to challenge others through free debate and open discussion, or through peaceful protest.

 

On the anniversary of the Charlie Hebdo attacks, we, the undersigned, call on all Governments to:

 

  • Uphold their international obligations to protect the rights of freedom of expression and information for all, and especially for journalists, writers, artists and human rights defenders to publish, write and speak freely;
  • Promote a safe and enabling environment for those who exercise their right to freedom of expression, and ensure that journalists, artists and human rights defenders may perform their work without interference;
  • Combat impunity for threats and violations aimed at journalists and others exercising their right to freedom of expression, and ensure impartial, timely and thorough investigations that bring the executors and masterminds behind such crimes to justice. Also ensure victims and their families have expedient access to appropriate remedies;
  • Repeal legislation which restricts the right to legitimate freedom of expression, especially vague and overbroad national security, sedition, obscenity, blasphemy and criminal defamation laws, and other legislation used to imprison, harass and silence critical voices, including on social media and online;
  • Ensure that respect for human rights is at the heart of communication surveillance policy. Laws and legal standards governing communication surveillance must therefore be updated, strengthened and brought under legislative and judicial control. Any interference can only be justified if it is clearly defined by law, pursues a legitimate aim and is strictly necessary to the aim pursued.

PEN International
ActiveWatch – Media Monitoring Agency
Adil Soz – International Foundation for Protection of Freedom of Speech
Africa Freedom of Information Centre
ARTICLE 19
Bahrain Center for Human Rights
Belarusian Association of Journalists
Brazilian Association for Investigative Journalism
Bytes for All
Cambodian Center for Human Rights
Canadian Journalists for Free Expression
Center for Independent Journalism – Romania
Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility 
Comité por la Libre Expresión – C-Libre
Committee to Protect Journalists
Electronic Frontier Foundation
Foundation for Press Freedom – FLIP
Freedom Forum
Fundamedios – Andean Foundation for Media Observation and Study
Globe International Center
Independent Journalism Center – Moldova
Index on Censorship
Initiative for Freedom of Expression – Turkey
Institute for the Studies on Free Flow of Information
Instituto de Prensa y Libertad de Expresión – IPLEX
Instituto Prensa y Sociedad de Venezuela
International Federation of Journalists
International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions 
International Press Institute 
International Publishers Association
Journaliste en danger
Maharat Foundation
MARCH
Media, Entertainment and Arts Alliance
Media Foundation for West Africa
National Union of Somali Journalists
Observatorio Latinoamericano para la Libertad de Expresión – OLA
Pacific Islands News Association 
Palestinian Center for Development and Media Freedoms – MADA
PEN American Center
PEN Canada
Reporters Without Borders
South East European Network for Professionalization of Media
Vigilance pour la Démocratie et l’État Civique 
World Association of Community Radio Broadcasters – AMARC 

 

French PEN

PEN Mali
PEN Kenya
PEN Nigeria
PEN South Africa
PEN Eritrea in Exile
PEN Zambia
PEN Afrikaans
PEN Ethiopia
PEN Lebanon
Palestinian PEN
Turkish PEN
PEN Quebec
PEN Colombia
PEN Peru
PEN Bolivia
PEN San Miguel
PEN USA
English PEN
Icelandic PEN
PEN Norway
Portuguese PEN
PEN Bosnia
PEN Croatia
Danish PEN
PEN Netherlands
German PEN
Finnish PEN
Wales PEN Cymru
Slovenian PEN
Flanders PEN
PEN Trieste
Russian PEN
PEN Japan 

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Worldwide Reading in support of Ashraf Fayadh: January 14th 2016 
worldwide reading

“The international literature festival Berlin (ilb)calls on all individuals, institutions, schools and media outlets that care about justice and freedom to participate in a worldwide reading of selected poems and other texts in support of Ashraf Fayadh on 14 January 2016.”

Palestinian poet Ashraf  Fayadh is in Saudi  prison awaiting execution.

Wales Pen Cymru will be holding an event at the Wales Millennium Centre as part of the world wide readings at 7p.m. on 14th January.

Readers include Nia Davies, Chris Meredith, Clare Potter, Dominic Williams and Menna Elfyn.

See more about the texts here.

Please spread the word and join us if you can.

FROM PEN INTERNATIONAL

Cover_72dpiIn Turkey the internet is seen as a place where things can be done independently, and they want to take the internet under control because they fear that.’ – Journalist Yasemin Çongar.

London, 16 December 2015 – Freedom of expression in the digital sphere has deteriorated dramatically in Turkey since the Gezi Park protests in March 2013 when peaceful demonstrations organised through social media were harshly repressed, according to a new report released today by PEN International and PEN Norway. The report is the third in a wide-ranging series monitoring and assessing such violations in the country since 2012.

Read the report here: Surveillance Secrecy and Self Censorship New Digital Freedom Challenges in Turkey.

The report documents how Turkish authorities have stepped up their crackdown on freedom of expression online. It highlights the persecution of individual journalists and other writers for their online writing; amendments to laws which have increased the ability of authorities to censor online material; the practice of mass surveillance; and the pressures placed on internet businesses operating in Turkey to censor material or provide information on users to authorities, to name but a few of the challenges.

‘We are gravely concerned about the extraordinary degree of control that Turkish authorities are attempting to exercise over legitimate public discussions online which are well within the interest of the Turkish people. The fact that even as we launch this report one of our colleagues, journalist and PEN Turkey member Can Dündar is behind bars for carrying out his work as a journalist, demonstrates the decline of freedom of freedom of expression,’ said Jennifer Clement, PEN International president.

‘We call on Turkish authorities to respect their obligation to protect the right to freedom of expression online and to release Can Dündar, Erdem Gül and all others imprisoned for their legitimate exercise of fundamental rights.’

The report is a frank assessment of the recent regime of online censorship and mass surveillance against a backdrop of longstanding, serious abuses of the judicial process and attacks on freedom of expression by Turkish authorities, taking the form of politically-charged anti-terror and corruption investigations and trials.

‘There isn’t a great deal of mystery around how these legal instruments will be used. The removal of a lot of content is going to be requested; a wall is going to be built in the path of journalism. They have constructed a system of internet regulation that is far from what should be present in a state where the rule of law holds sway; now it’s time for that system to be implemented.’ – Doğan Akın, owner and editor-in-chief of T24.

Blocks on social media and websites, online surveillance and repressive legislation which results in numerous arrests, detentions and trials have become commonplace. According to statistics for 2014 released by the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR), Turkey single-handedly surpassed the 46 other states in the Council of Europe (CoE) in terms of cases involving violations of the right to freedom of expression.

‘The report on digital censorship in Turkey shows a shocking lack of trust from the regime towards its citizens and justifies the deep fear of injustice and suppression being felt in the country’ – William Nygaard, President Norwegian PEN.

The net effect of this system of repressive legislation and surveillance is to drive journalists and other writers into self-censorship. As investigative journalist İsmail Saymaz told PEN:

‘Of course [surveillance] has had an impact. For one, people speak on the phone less; they constantly create new email accounts and communicate via them. Until recently, they would engage in behaviour like refraining from keeping CDs around the house or periodically wiping their computers’ hard drives…We eventually got used to living this way. We had to somehow try to continue engaging in journalism regardless.’

The report, based on interviews with Turkish journalists and other writers, supplemented by detailed research, concludes with detailed recommendations to the Turkish government, the international community and to internet businesses operating in Turkey, requesting much-needed legislative reform, how to improve transparency and accountability and to ensure that surveillance practices do not violate human rights.

‘Freedom of expression is a fundamental human right not only in international law, but is also the bedrock of democracy. Where this right is denied, all other human rights are at risk.’ – Salil Tripathi, Chair of PEN International’s Writers in Prison Committee.

PEN International and its Centres around the world have been documenting freedom of expression violations and campaigning on behalf of writers in Turkey for several decades. From the 1985 visit of Harold Pinter and Arthur Miller on behalf of PEN International to campaign against the torture of writers and others in prison; to continued calls for investigations into the 2007 murder of Turkish-Armenian editor and PEN member Hrant Dink; to campaigning against the prosecution of writers Orhan Pamuk in 2005 and Elif Shafak in 2006; to the 2012 PEN delegation to Turkey calling for reform of laws stifling Turkey’s writers, publishers, translators, and journalists, PEN’s work continues in Turkey today.

You can read the report online here:

– See more at: http://www.pen-international.org/newsitems/turkey-new-report-highlights-declining-space-for-freedom-of-expression-in-the-digital-sphere/#sthash.ARlo5B4h.dpuf

 

WALES PEN CYMRU WRITERS JOIN ENGLISH AND SCOTTISH PEN IN LETTER TO DAVID CAMERON

Writers urge British Government to safeguard freedom of expression in India

11 November 2015

London, UK – More than 200 writers including Nikita Lalwani, Henry Marsh, Ian McEwan, Salman Rushdie, and Val McDermid have written an open letter to David Cameron calling on the British government to take action to safeguard freedom of expression in India.

The letter, signed by members and supporters of PEN International’s UK-based centres – English PEN, Scottish PEN and Wales PEN Cymru – highlights ‘the rising climate of fear, growing intolerance and violence towards critical voices who challenge orthodoxy or fundamentalism in India’ and urges Cameron to ‘engage with Prime Minister Modi both publicly and privately on this crucial issue’. Prime Minister Modi arrives in the UK on Thursday, 12 November.

The writers express grave concern over threats to freedom of expression in the country and highlight the cases of three public intellectuals murdered in the last two years, the murders of at least 37 journalists since 1992, and the threats that writers and others continue to receive, and the protests that are mounting in response to the attacks:

Over the past month, at least 40 Indian novelists, poets and playwrights have returned the prize awarded to them by the Sahitya Akademi, the National Academy of Letters, to protest against these attacks. In their statements, the writers have criticised the Akademi’s silence over the murders, the deteriorating political environment in which those expressing dissent have been attacked by government ministers, and challenged the government to demonstrate tolerance and protect free speech.

After this, and a silent march by protesting writers, the Akademi issued a statement condemning the murder of Kalburgi and a resolution asking ‘governments at the centre and in the states to take immediate action to bring the culprits to book and ensure the security of writers now and in the future.’ It also requested the writers who had returned awards to reconsider their decisions. Dissenting writers responded to the Akademi saying it should have spoken out much earlier, and urged the Akademi to rethink how it can support ‘writers all over India, and by extension, the people of the country.’ They reminded the Akademi of the urgency, calling the present time a ‘moment of spiralling hatred and intolerance.’ Mr Modi’s government has not yet formally responded to the Akademi’s resolution.

They also describe how the ‘protests have grown beyond the community of Indian writers of all languages’ and how ‘scientists, artists, film-makers, academics, scholars, and actors have either complained about the climate of intolerance or returned awards on a scale unprecedented in India.’

The letter concludes by asking the Prime Minister to raise these issues with Prime Minister Modi and to ‘urge him to provide better protection for writers, artists and other critical voices and ensure that freedom of speech is safeguarded. Without these protections a democratic, peaceful society is not possible.’

The full text of the letter and list of signatories is available here.

In May 2015, PEN, in partnership with the International Human rights Program (IHRP) at the University Of Toronto Faculty Of Law, published a report documenting the many violations of the right to free expression in the country since Prime Minister Modi’s inauguration and calling on India to repeal overbroad laws that enable censorship in the world’s largest democracy. The report – Imposing Silence: The Use of India’s Laws to Suppress Free Speech – can be read here.

 

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