OCTOBER newsletter


-Chair’s message
-Urgent adoptee update — Pham Doan Trang (Vietnam)
-Upcoming events
-Recommended articles and media

Chair’s message (Krishna Sen)

Members and Fellow-travellers, it was wonderful to see those of you attended our AGM last month and stayed on for the discussion with Dr Jenny Rowena about the increasing challenges to freedom of expression in India under the right-wing nationalist Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The members voted in new office bearers as well as new committee members. We hope on your behalf and with your help to continue to work for the rights to read, write and speak all around our region.

With your support, we have been able to provide material help to democracy activists in Burma, Afghanistan and PEN members in Cambodia. On your behalf, we have written to every WA member of the Federal Parliament drawing their attention to Australian writers and publishers in overseas prisons. Please bring us your ideas about campaigns – write to us at penperth@gmail.com

And please join us on 10 Nov for a conversation with the enormously popular Bengali writer Srijato and local poet Robert Wood.

We are currently inviting new memberships and existing membership renewals. Pay with PayPal or via direct debit here. Membership allows you to:

-Vote at the annual general meeting
-Attend PEN International Congress
-Contribute to the discussion and direction of PEN Perth
-Receive campaign alerts to take action

Urgent adoptee update – Pham Doan Trang (Vietnam)

Pham Doan Trang

Our friends at PEN International are asking everyone to send appeals to the authorities of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam to release Pham Doan Trang (feel free to use template letter below). She is one of PEN Perth’s adoptees in Vietnam.


Mahsa (Zhina) Amini

PEN International 88th Congress created A Message of Solidarity with the Women and People of Iran in response to the death of Mahsa (Zhina) Amini in custody. The Guidance Patrol, the religious morality police of Iran’s government, arrested Amini for not wearing the hijab in accordance with government standards. See PEN International’s letter below.

Kasra Nouri

Our friends at PEN Sydney wrote an appeal about the mounting pressure on the Iranian journalist Mr Kasra Nouri created by transferring him to Shiraz for further interrogation under fabricated accusations. Kasra Nouri is a Gonabadi Sufi Dervish, Sufi rights activist and the manager of the Majzooban-e Noor news website which focuses on Iranian Gonabadi Sufi Dervish affairs (see here for full overview of Nouri’s case). See PEN Sydney’s full letter below.

Upcoming events

Catch PEN Perth on 29OCT, 11:50AM-12:40PM

29 October: Australian Short Story Festival 2022 – Writing for Justice. J Eh Kaw Thaw Saw, Lobna Rouhani and Frances An will read works from Myanmar, Iran and Vietnam by writers who have refused to remain silent in the face of injustice. Former PEN Perth secretary and poet Dennis Haskell will chair the event. Catch us on 29OCT, 11:50AM-12:40PM, at the Pavlich Room in Fremantle Arts Centre. For the full schedule and ticket information, please visit the Australian Short Story Festival’s website here.

2 November: Norman Erikson Pasaribu in conversation with Rashida Murphy. Centre for Stories and The University of Western Australia invite you to hear Norman Erikson Pasaribu, Inaugural Patricia Kailis International Writing Fellow, in Conversation with Rashida Murphy. Pasaribu is one of Indonesia’s most vital and irresistible writers, a poet distinguished by their tender and tragicomic voice. Their fiction collection, Happy Stories, Mostly (Giramondo, 2022) was longlisted for the 2022 International Booker Prize and won the 2022 Republic of Consciousness Prize. Speaker details and ticket information here.

L: Srijato; R: Robert Wood

10 November: A conversation with Kolkata poet Srijato and Boorloo’s Robert Wood. Kolkata is a city of poets and Srijato is one of its most popular and critically acclaimed writers. Srijato will be joined in conversation by Perth-based poet and former Chair of PEN Perth, Robert Wood, whose work also draws on a range of cultural traditions, including from his Southern Indian Malayalam ethno-cultural roots. Robert has published several volumes of poetry and some of his work has been translated into regional Indian languages. The conversation will be hosted by Krishna Sen, Chair of PEN Perth. Details and ticket information here.

Recommended articles and media from PEN Perth members

Past event: in case you missed it, catch up with a recording of Jenny Rowena and Krishna Sen in conversation about the state of Indian democracy and detainment of Jenny Rowena’s husband and linguistics right activist Hany Babu.

PEN International, Myanmar update: PEN International is gravely concerned by the Myanmar military junta’s decision to bring writer, activist and PEN Myanmar member, Wai Moe Naing, to trial on a charge of high treason. Already serving 10-year prison sentence, he now faces the death penalty if convicted. See here for more.

International literary news: Shehan Karunatilaka wins Booker prize for The Seven Moons of Maali Almeida. Receiving his prize, Karunatilaka addressed the people of Sri Lanka in Tamil and Sinhalese. He summarised what he said in English: “I write these books for you… Let’s keep sharing these stories.” He said he hopes that one day the political situation in Sri Lanka will be such that his novel will “sit on the fantasy shelves of bookshops”. See more here.

Singapore news: MCI shortens permit for Vogue Singapore over content guideline breaches. The Ministry of Communications and Information (MCI) has shortened the permit of fashion magazine Vogue Singapore and issued it a stern warning, after repeated breaches of content guidelines: “(Vogue Singapore) had breached the content guidelines for local lifestyle magazines on four occasions within the past two years, for nudity and content that promoted non-traditional families.”

Australian news on suppression of evidence regarding plans to tackle domestic violence: A long-awaited report that the Morrison government sat on for months has been released, with experts declaring it a “vital piece of evidence” that will chart the path towards eliminating violence against women and children. See full report here.

New videos on PEN Perth’s Youtube channel: Treasurer and Communications Officer Frances An reads Thân Phận (Inferior Fate)’ by Nguyễn Chiêu Anh Phượng in English and Vietnamese. Nguyễn Chiêu Anh Phượng is an at-risk writer who joined several protests against China’s territorial claims to the Paracel Islands and Spratly Islands. Her poems appear consistently in Vietnamese literary magazines and websites.

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