PEN

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Blog   |   Mexico

In Mexico mission, PEN speaks for a silenced press

Mexican writer Eduardo Lizalde speaks out at a PEN International event. (Reuters/Henry Romero)

The leading American author Russell Banks set the tone on Sunday as he stood among international writers and their local colleagues in Mexico City: "A nation's journalists and writers, like its poets and story-tellers, are the eyes, ears, and mouths of the people. When journalists cannot freely speak of what they see and hear of the reality that surrounds them, the people cannot see, hear, or speak it either." Banks is among the leaders of a high-level PEN International delegation that is meeting with top Mexican officials to pressure them to improve law enforcement in the murders of journalists, and to change the law to bring more cases under the federal government's jurisdiction. 

January 30, 2012 2:55 PM ET

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Blog   |   China

Only some Chinese writers allowed to attend PEN Festival

Zha Jianying discusses Ai Weiwei, pictured at left after a police attack, at the Pen World Voices Festival. (CPJ)

The stage was full of empty chairs on Thursday at "China in Two Acts," part of the five-day PEN World Voices Festival of International Literature in New York, which ended on Sunday.  A two-part program featured writer Zha Jianying speaking for the first part followed by a panel discussion in the second. The chairs, a nod to Nobel laureate Liu Xiaobo's recent imprisonment, also signified the absence of Liao Yiwu, author and fellow IndePENdent Chinese PEN Center board member. Liao was barred from leaving the country, festival chair Salman Rushdie wrote in a New York Times op-ed

Blog   |   Iran

When a defender is persecuted, what rights are left?

Everyone at some point has needed someone to stand up for them. These people shine in our memories for gestures or actions taken on our behalf, whether as children against the schoolyard bully or as adults in favor of a scholarly proposition or professional advance. But an especially powerful embodiment of an advocate is that of an attorney who uses the law, even where individuals have few rights, to argue for the freedom or survival of those who are oppressed. Nasrin Sotoudeh is such an advocate, and on April 26 her courage, determination, and professionalism as a writer, lawyer, and human rights activist in Iran will be honored with the PEN/Barbara Goldsmith Freedom to Write Award. Sotoudeh, who has served as legal counsel for several journalists imprisoned in Iran, was sentenced in January to 11 years in prison. 

April 15, 2011 2:03 PM ET

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Blog   |   CPJ, Mexico

At PEN, CPJ event, Mexico press crisis examined

The line of people at the stairs leading down to the Great Hall at Cooper Union in lower Manhattan formed early and turned into an audience of 500. They came to hear prominent Mexican and U.S. writers and free expression advocates assess, denounce, and seek solutions to the wave of violence wracking Mexican media.

October 21, 2010 12:50 PM ET

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Blog   |   CPJ, Mexico

PEN, CPJ call attention to Mexico press crisis

"Tell them not to kill me!" pleads a man in the opening lines of a fascinating tale of violence with the same title by one of Mexico's most esteemed writers, Juan Rulfo. It is, sadly, the same cry for help that Mexican journalists are sending out to the world today. On Tuesday, October 19, prominent writers and journalists from Mexico and the United States will gather in New York for "State of Emergency: Censorship by Bullet in Mexico," an evening of readings and discussions about the threats facing members of the Mexican press who report on drug-related violence.

October 14, 2010 3:30 PM ET

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