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Posts Tagged ‘PEN American Center’

Blogger Nay Phone Latt Released From Prison in Myanmar

Blogger Nay Phone Latt has been released from prison. Latt was arrested in 2008 after using his blog to share poetry, political criticism and social commentary in Myanmar (the country formerly known as Burma).

Yahoo! News reported that Myanmar’s government pardoned Latt and approximately 650 others under a massive act of prisoner amnesty. The Guardian has uploaded a gallery of photos chronicling this event; the first two feature Latt and his family.

Here’s more from PEN’s announcement: “[In November 2008, Latt] was sentenced by a specially-assembled court to a combined 20 years and six months in prison for blogging about the military crackdown against a popular uprising during the fall of 2007…On February 20, 2009, a court in Rangoon reduced his sentence by eight and a half years, leaving him to serve 12 years in Pa-an Prison in Karen State, 135 miles from Yangon.”

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Chen Wei & Chen Xi Imprisoned

Chinese writers Chen Wei and Chen Xi were both given long prison sentences over the holidays. The PEN American Center denounced the action, calling it “an eerie replay of the 2009 trial of Liu Xiaobo.”

Both writers published digital essays criticizing China’s political system and government activities. Wei was charged with inciting subversion and sentenced to eleven-years’ imprisonment. Xi was charged with the same “crime” and sentenced to ten-years’ imprisonment.

PEN president Kwame Anthony Appiah gave this statement in the release: “Once more the Chinese regime has chosen to darken the holiday season with a reminder of its fear of independent thought. We salute the extraordinary courage of those Chinese, like Chen Wei, Chen Xi, and Liu Xiaobo, who love their country enough to risk long-term incarceration for speaking out against a government that betrays the hopes of the Chinese people every day.” What do you think?

Turkish Publisher Ragip Zarakolu Arrested

Belge Publishing House director Ragip Zarakolu was arrested on October 28th. Zarakolu, a member of the Turkish PEN Center, has been targeted by the Turkish government for his refusal to yield to their censorship laws.

His legal battles began when he launched the publishing house in 1977 with his wife, Ayse Nur. They published books by political prisoners and nonfiction titles about the Armenian genocide. Larry Siems, director of the Freedom to Write program at the PEN American Center, declared the organization’s mounting concern over “a disturbing acceleration of violations of the rights of Turkish and Kurdish activists, writers, and scholars.”

Here’s more from the release: “Turkish authorities have arrested up to 1,000 scholars, writers, publishers, and rights advocates during a two-year crackdown targeting activists who focus on Kurdish issues. This list of those arrested Friday also includes Büşra Ersanlı, a constitutional law expert and a member of the pro-Kurdish Peace and Democracy Party (BDP). Zarakolu’s son, Deniz Zarakolu, who is an editor at Belge Publishing House and a Ph.D. student at Bilgi University, was arrested on October 4. It is unclear whether charges have been filed against any of those arrested in Friday’s roundup.”

Banned Chinese Writer Liao Yiwu to Appear in New York City

On September 13th, Chinese writer Liao Yiwu will appear in New York City for a reading, a musical performance and an on-stage interview organized by the Pen American Center.

Liao (pictured, via) is a poet, novelist, musician, and documentarian, once dubbed “the Studs Terkel of China.” The event will take place on the night before the official release of his new book God Is Red: The Secret Story of How Christianity Survived and Flourished in Communist ChinaWen Huang translated the book.

Here’s more from the release: “[Mr. Liao] was denied permission to travel to New York for the PEN World Voices Festival of International Literature earlier this year, but escaped to Berlin via the Vietnamese border on July 6, 2011. Mr. Liao was imprisoned for four years in the 1990s for his epic poem ‘Massacre [excerpted here],’ a condemnation of the government’s bloody crackdown at Tiananmen Square, and has endured constant harassment since. Though all his books are banned in China, he has continued to write.”

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