International PEN Writers in Prison Committee meet in Istanbul

Over 50 writers, editors and publishers from 23 countries gathered in Istanbul 2-4 March 2006 for the 6th Writers in Prison Committee conference of International PEN. At meetings focusing on PEN’s global program, the members planned the launch of a campaign against insult and criminal defamation laws under which writers and journalists are imprisoned worldwide, including under Article 301 in Turkey.

Other key issues discussed included the recent uproar over Danish cartoons, impunity, the role of internet service providers in offering information on writers, especially in China, and the pressure by the Russian government on Russian PEN.

Hosted by the Turkish Centre of International PEN, the PEN Conference also featured a panel on “Freedom of Expression in Turkey Today” with Fatih Tas, owner of Aram Publishing House, Oya Aydin, attorney, Ismet Berkan, editor-in-chief of Radikal and Fikret Ilkiz, attorney.Despite the recent dismissal of the case against novelist Orhan Pamuk and the progress noted in Turkey, where no writer is currently in prison, PEN members expressed concern about the large number of trials against writers and journalists accused of “insult.”

At the conference the delegates also confirmed action on behalf of the seven editors who have been detained in Algeria, Jordan, and Yemen for republishing the cartoons originally published in a Danish newspaper depicting the Prophet Mohammed. Members confirmed their commitment to work for mutual respect among peoples, at the same time insisting on the principle of freedom of expression and denouncing violence as a censor.

The conference brought colleagues from around the world together who work on cases of writers imprisoned, threatened and sometimes killed because of their writing. PEN records over 1000 cases worldwide and works actively on 150-200 of these cases.

For a selection of statements from PEN Centres on the Danish cartoons issue please visit http://www.pen.org/page.php/prmID/1204

Originally posted with the url: www.englishpen.org/writersinprison/archivebulletins/internationalpenwritersinprisoncommitteemeetinistanbul/

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