At our recent Human Rights Day event, PEN Perth Member Frances An read a touching letter to journalist Đoan Trang Phạm. PEN Perth is proud to publish the letter here, written and translated by Frances An.
On Tuesday 23 November PEN Perth held a reading to protest the military coup which took place on 25 October in Sudan. Read the summary and two featured poems here.
On 14 September, representatives from over 60 PEN Centres convened for its annual Writers in Prison Committee (WIPC) meeting. The meeting drew attention to the critical situation in Afghanistan, where the Taliban’s recent takeover means that Afghan writers, activists, and cultural practitioners—especially women—face imminent danger.
As in previous years, PEN International held pre-conference discussions for its main committees, including the Writers for Peace Committee and the Linguistic Rights Committee, which I was able to attend via Zoom, albeit at an unusual hour as the conference ran on London time.
The Centenary World Congress of PEN was held via Zoom from 20-24 September, with the four Committee meetings held in the previous week. The Congress held some fascinating panel discussions on issues related to freedom of expression with participants such as Margaret Atwood and Salman Rushdie, as well as talks by John Ralston Saul, Ngugi wa Thiong’o, Ma Thida and others.
The third Annual General Meeting of PEN Perth was held on 26 August at the Centre for Stories. A new committee was elected, with Rania Ghandour and Rita Saggar joining and Robert Wood standing down.
My Chair’s report for the year 2020-2021 is a little different. That is for two reasons, the first being organisational as it is the 100 year celebration of our international community, and the second being personal, because it is my final report as Chair.
It might surprise many of out readers to learn that an Australian writer, blogger and academic, has been held in China since January 2019, charged with espionage, and pronounced guilty after a brief and perfunctory trial in a closed courtroom.
As you all know, PEN Perth exists to support and strengthen the responsible freedom of expression. In the current historical moment, that matters more than ever.