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PEN Day Of The Imprisoned Writer: Suspended Sentences Leave Kazakhs In Fear

Kazakh journalist Serik Sapargali
Kazakh journalist Serik Sapargali

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PEN Day Of The Imprisoned Writer: Jailed Voices That Must Not Be Silenced

There are hundreds of writers and journalists in prison right now, most of them sentenced to long terms in brutal conditions merely for the ideas they express in their writing. PEN International, a nongovernmental organization based in London with centers around the world, has named November 15 the Day of the Imprisoned Writer in order to keep these unjustly imprisoned voices from falling silent.
By Kazis Toguzbaev
ALMATY -- In October 2011, Kuanbek Botabekov, editor in chief of the newspaper "Adilet," was given an 18-month suspended prison sentence and ordered to pay about $2,000 after being convicted of defaming two local officials in Shymkent.

The complainants had sought damages of more than $70,000, arguing that Botabekov's articles on local corruption had "deprived them of the reputations they had worked for their entire lives."

Botabekov is one of five Kazakh writers listed by the PEN International nongovernmental organization as imprisoned writers. PEN marks its annual Day of the Imprisoned Writer on November 15.

PEN has also expressed concern about Alpamys Bekturganov, a writer and former official in the western Uralsk region. Bekturganov was sentenced to a year in prison on defamation charges in 2009 after giving a press conference in which he criticized the region's governor.

While he was in prison, Bekturganov was given an additional three-year prison sentence for purported "abuse of office."

He was released on parole for "good behavior" in September 2010, but -- like Botabekov -- Bekturganov could be forced to serve the rest of his sentence under almost any pretext.

PEN Day of the Imprisoned Writer: Jailed Voices That Must Not Be Silenced

PEN International is also drawing attention to three journalists who were convicted of alleged involvement in mass violence in the western city of Zhanaozen in December 2011. Police shot dead 16 people in clashes in the city with labor demonstrators.

Journalists Vladimir Kozlov and Serik Sapargali were given 7 1/2-year prison terms in October for purportedly inciting violence. Another journalist and activist, Zhambolat Mamal, was also arrested but agreed to testify in the closed trial.

Sapargali has since been released on parole, but Kozlov remains in custody. A court is expected to rule on his appeal on November 19.
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by: NGUYÊN HOÀNG BAO VIÊT from: Geneva - SWITZERLAND
November 16, 2012 22:07
A Contribution to the World Day of the Imprisoned Writer 2012

by Nguyên Hoàng Bao Viêt

THE WORLD DAY OF THE IMPRISONED WRITER AND THE TRAGEDIES OF THOSE BEING PERSECUTED AND PUNISHED FOR FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION

There can be no flowering of literary expression nor culture of genuine peace and social justice if Freedom of Expression is neither respected nor protected. Yet this freedom is weak and threatened in many countries. Writers and journalists risk severe punishment like being silenced, imprisoned, reported missing or killed simply for using their right to free expression. Yet to resist dictatorships, corrupt or criminal groups, writers and journalist have only their words.
This year’s 15 November World Day of the Imprisoned Writer offers world-wide solidarity and support to those writers and journalists suffering, as do their families, from intolerance and violence.
As a reminder, on 10 November 1995, the Nigerian writer Ken Saro Wiwa, was hung for defending an ethnic minority, the Ogoni, of the Nile delta. Then, Anna Politkovskaya, a brave Russian woman journalist and reporter, was murdered in Moscow on 7 October 2006 while Hrant Dink, a Turkish writer and editor of Armenian descent, was killed in Istanbul on 19 January 2007. Just a few examples of the most revolting crimes against Freedom of Expression, against Literature without Borders and Independent Thinking Press.
In the last 12 months, the Writers in Prison Committee of PEN International recorded over 30 murders; as well as at least 678 attacks against authors, reporters or bloggers arrested, tortured, jailed or deported. Among these victims, let us remember such names, as in Mexico, Guillermo Fernandez Garcia, poet and translator (killed in March 2012); Regina Martinez, woman reporter (assassinated in April 2012); in Ethiopia, Eskinder Nega, blogger-journalist (sentenced to 18 years in prison); in Syria, Tal Al Mallouhi, woman blogger-poet (5 years in prison); in China, Liu Xiaobo, Nobel Peace Prize (11 years in prison); in Viêt Nam, Nguyên Huu Câu, a near-blind poet (life sentence); Diêu Cày, journalist (12 years in prison) and Ta Phong Tân, woman blogger-journalist (10 years in prison); in Iran, Shiva Nazar Ahari, woman writer (4 years in prison); in Tibet: Dhongkho, Bouddha and Khelsang, writers, (3 to 4 years in prison); in Turkey, Muharrem Erbey, writer (arrested in December 2009); in the Philippines, Ericson Acosta, poet, and author composer (arrested in February 2011), etc.
PEN International´s campaign,‘’Write against Impunity 2012’’, denounced the murderous violence against writers, journalists and bloggers in Latin America, as compared to impunity regularly granted to criminals, their ilk and accomplices.
Last September, PEN International Congress, held in Gyeongju, South Korea, adopted some ten resolutions condemning repression, censorship and threats to writers and journalists living in hostile or intolerant latitudes. In fact, persecution has since increased in Bahrain, Belarus, China, Tibet, in Uyghur Xinjiang and Inner Mongolia, Cuba, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Honduras, Iran, Irak, Mexico, Puerto Rico, Syria, Turkey, Russia, Cambodia or Viêt Nam.
This South-East Asian State Viêt Nam continues to repress Freedom of Expression through application of liberticidal articles of its Penal Code, particularly article 88 ‘’Propaganda against the State’’ with sentences up to 20 years in prison. All medias are under strict State control and subject to severe censorship. There is flagrant restriction on freedom to seek, receive and impart information, specially relating to accountability for human rights violations, corruption and social injustice.
Geneva 15.11.2012
Nguyên Hoàng Bao Viêt, Suisse Romand PEN Centre (WIPC)
Translated from French original by Mavis Guinard, Suisse Romand PEN Centre (WIPC).

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