COURAGE DAY EVENT CHALLENGE
We encourage all visitors to this page, and in particular NZSA PEN NZ members, to write letters to the relevant authorities as suggested in the action papers below, and to share the papers and any specific activities you are organising on social media and with your local media.
Our focus cases for 2016 are:
Ahmed Naji (Egypt) – Novelist and journalist Ahmed Naji is currently serving a two-year prison sentence for ‘violating public modesty’ in relation to the publication of excerpts from his 2014 novel Istikhdam al-Hayat (The Use of Life) in Akhbar al-Adab magazine, also in 2014. Naji has now served almost eight months of his sentence. ACTION PAPER – Ahmed Naji
Aslı Erdoğan (Turkey) – Renowned novelist and PEN member Aslı Erdoğan was arrested at her home in Istanbul on 17 August 2016. She was sent to a prison in Istanbul on preliminary charges of “membership of a terrorist organisation” and “undermining national unity.” She has been in pre-trial detention since her arrest, and no date has currently been set for her trial. ACTION PAPER – Asli Erdogan
Cesario Alejandro Félix Padilla Figueroa (Honduras) – Journalism graduate, student leader, and board member and founding member of PEN Honduras, Cesario Alejandro Félix Padilla Figueroa has faced prosecution, threats and harassment for his part in on-going student protests at the state National Autonomous University of Honduras (UNAH) in the Honduran capital Tegucigalpa since 2014. ACTION PAPER – Cesario Alejandro Félix Padilla Figueroa
Dareen Tatour (Israel) – A poet and a Palestinian citizen of Israel, Dareen Tatour is currently standing trial on charges of “support for a terrorist organisation” and several counts of incitement to violence in connection with her poetry and social media activity. Tatour was detained over a year ago and is currently under house arrest. ACTION PAPER – Dareen Tatour
Gui Minhai (China) – In October 2015, publisher Gui Minhai disappeared from his holiday home in Thailand. Three months later he appeared in a televised ‘confession’ on state-controlled TV claiming that he had voluntarily surrendered himself to the Chinese authorities over his supposed involvement in a fatal hit-and-run incident in December 2003. Since then, his whereabouts have been unknown; he has reportedly not had access to legal counsel and has been allowed no contact with his daughter who lives in the UK. ACTION PAPER – Gui Minhai
On Translation Day PEN centres translated the work of Dareen Tatour. Read his poem A Poet Behind Bars There is a wonderful collection of poems written by Enoh Meyomesse from Kondengui Prison. Although he was released last year it is not easy to find works by writers in prison translated into English. This is a very powerful collection which PEN put together. His poem I Thank You was written for PEN and is quite nice to use to end any readings you are having on a positive note.
Here is another translation, The Scourge of War by Amanuel Asrat (1999).
Aron Atabek is still in prison. His poem New Zealand Shanyarak written for PEN (NZ) is here.
If you would like any further information about Courage Day and PEN NZ please contact Pen spokesperson Dana Wensley PEN@nzauthors.org.nz. To be a regular letter writer for Writers In Prisons contact Lesley Marshall firstname.lastname@example.org.
Take a moment to write one letter (see Action Papers above) as it could be your letter that tips the balance in favour of the writer in prison.