Each year, International PEN monitors around 1,000 attacks against writers, journalists, poets, publishers and editors world wide. These range from persistent harassment and threats through to long prison sentences and even killings. The past year has been no different with hundreds of writers and journalists detained, and over 40 killed in the practice of their professions.
Once a year, on 15 November, PEN stages its Day of the Imprisoned Writer where its membership of writers use their combined force to work towards change.
The following four cases from Cuba, Uzbekistan, Gambia and Iran have been selected for the focus of 2007’s Day of the Imprisoned Writer:
Normando Hernández González
Jamshid Karimov, the Uzbek journalist and nephew of Preisdent Karimov, has been held in psychiatric detention for over a year. He is known for being an outspoken critic of the government and for reporting on socio-political issues in independent journals and web sites. In September 2006 he went missing and was eventually found in a psychiatric hospital. The Uzbek authorities have apparently refused to give the reasons for holding him. PEN is deeply concerned that psychiatric detention is being used to punish the independent journalist for criticising the government and reporting on human rights abuses.
To see English PEN’s open letter to President Karimov click here
Fatou Jaw Manneh
The Gambian journalist Fatou Jaw Manneh is currently on trial and facing a heavy sentence on charges of sedition for her articles criticising the Gambian president. Manneh, a US-based contributor to the website AllGambian.net and a former reporter for the Gambian independent newspaper Daily Observer, was arrested on her arrival in Banjul in March 2007. Her trial has been continually delayed prompting speculation that the state lacks evidence for the prosecution. PEN believes that the criminal charges faced by Manneh are a violation of her right to freedom of expression guaranteed by the Gambian Constitution and international human rights treaties.
For more information on Manneh’s case click here
The Iranian novelist Yaghoub Yadali is currently serving a one year sentence on charges of ‘insulting in order to agitate the general public’. Yadali was convicted for his fictional characterisation of the Lor ethnic minority although he is himself a member of the Lor community and is an award-winning writer in the region. Since his arrest Yadali has been banned from publishing, his books have been withdrawn from the market and he has been dismissed from his job. English PEN is deeply concerned that Yadali is sentenced in violation of his right to freedom of expression, and calls for his conviction to be dropped in accordance with Article 19 of the United Nations International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Iran is a signatory.
Originally posted with the url: www.englishpen.org/writersinprison/prisoners/dayoftheimprisonedwriter/