Afghanistan: Arrest of girls’ education activist latest example of Taliban repression
PEN International is deeply concerned over reports regarding last week’s arrest of educator and prominent advocate for girls’ education, Matiullah Wesa, and calls for his immediate and unconditional release. Matiullah’s detention is just the latest example of the Taliban’s intolerance towards anyone who challenges its efforts to deny women and girls their right to education.
On 27 March 2023, Matiullah Wesa was arrested by the Taliban after attending prayers at a mosque in Kabul, according to media reports. Videos circulated online show that his home was raided the following day with his library destroyed. In response to Wesa’s arrest, United Nations Special Rapporteur on human rights in Afghanistan, Richard Bennett, noted his alarm and called for his rights to be respected. The United Nations Mission in Afghanistan also sought clarification on Wesa’s whereabouts, which remains unknown at time of writing.
‘The arbitrary arrest of Matiullah Wesa for his selfless work advocating for girls’ education is a shocking example of the Taliban’s contempt towards the rights of women and girls. We call for his immediate and unconditional release, and for the Taliban to cease its appalling assault on women and girls’ right to education’, said Romana Cacchioli, Executive Director of PEN International.
Crisis Fund for Writers at Risk, PEN International
We need to find critical funds for humanitarian assistance and solidarity for writers at risk worldwide, in response to a steep rise in people seeking our support. Today, more than ever before, we urgently need additional donations to safeguard our mission, to help those who are persecuted, silenced, in prison, or in exile; and to defend freedom of expression, which across the world is under serious threat.
Over the last two years, we have worked around the clock to provide emergency assistance to writers at risk and their dependents in our priority regions, bringing more than 115 people to safety in host countries. Our small team continues to work tirelessly on complex and urgent cases, in countries whose governments seek to silence dissent and kill free expression.
We do not currently have sufficient funds to meet the increasing need, and so send out a plea for additional donations and pledges.
Please see here for more information and donation options.
PEN International: Empire Street Productions and Acclaimed Writers Sonmez, Arshi, Martel, and Okri join Forces for Martin McDonagh’s Award-Winning Play the Pillowman
PEN International and Empire Street Productions are proud to announce their partnership in support of The Pillowman, an upcoming play starring actress and singer Lily Allen about a fiction writer – living in a police state- who is persecuted by the authorities for her critical writing. Produced by Empire Street Productions, an independent, London based production company, The Pillowman speaks to the core of PEN’s values, and shines a light on where art and politics intersect.
For more information, see here and contact: Sabrina Tucci, PEN International Communications and Campaigns Manager, Sabrina.Tucci@pen-international.org, Twitter: @pen_int | Facebook
Guernica/PEN International’s Residency for Writers at Risk
PEN International is proud to announce The Guernica/PEN International’s Residency for Writers at Risk, a unique virtual residency aimed at supporting writers in exile, refugee writers, and others who are at risk, globally.
Stemming from a new partnership between PEN International and Canadian publisher and member of PEN International Publishers’ Circle, Guernica Edition, the three-month residencies are globally focused, welcoming writers working anywhere in the world to apply for the support and encouragement provided by the position.
Belarusian poet, translator, writer, PEN Belarus member and honorary member of English PEN Hanna Komar is the first writer selected for this year’s residency from a small list of writers PEN International put forward for Guernica Editions to consider.
For more about Komar and the Guernica/PEN collaboration, see here.
PEN Perth treasurer Frances An writes about academic freedom in Hong Kong under the National Security Law for Spectator Australia: ‘China and Hong Kong: a tale of caution.’
At PEN Perth, we strive to defend freedom of expression in the field of human rights and support writers who have been persecuted for expressing their views. We aspire to share our message with as many people as possible as well as providing benefits for our members and most importantly: their input!
As a member of PEN Perth, you’ll have access to a range of benefits including:
– Opportunities to network with other writers and literary professionals who are interested in human rights
– Access to topical events, workshops, and seminars with prolific writers and journalists such as Peter Greste and Srijato
– Regular updates and analyses on issues relating to freedom of expression across the Asia-Pacific region
We would be thrilled to welcome you to our member community, so you can join us in-person at events like our conversations with Jenny Rowena (wife of jailed Delhi University Professor Hany Babu) and Srijato (leading Bengali Poet).
Please visit our website to find out more and sign up. If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to get in touch. Together, we can make a real difference in promoting writers’ freedom of expression.
Thank you for your continued support of PEN Perth.
PEN Perth Team