Honorary Members of PEN Melbourne
Wajeha al-Huwaider is an activist, journalist and writer who has long campaigned for women’s rights in Saudi Arabia. In June 2013, efforts to curb her rights work saw her sentenced by a Saudi court to 10 months in prison and banned from traveling outside of the country for two years following completion of her prison term. According to an article published on 4 September 2015 in The Guardian, al-Huwaider and other activists were informed in June that they were able to travel freely again and that they would not have to serve their sentence in prison.
Well-known Turkish publisher Ragip Zarakolu has campaigned for free expression for decades. He was arrested on 28 October 2011 and is facing trial under the ATL for “membership of an illegal organisation”, reportedly for a speech he made to the pro-Kurdish Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) and for articles he has written.
Respected academic and writer in Turkey, Busra Erslani is an expert on constitutional law and had been working with the pro-Kurdish Peace and Democracy Party (BDP)’s Constitutional Commission when she was arrested on the same day as Ragip Zarakolu. She is still on trial in Turkey. The last action PEN did on her behalf was in 2014
Natalia Radzina is an editor for the pro-democracy news website Charter 97. Radzina was arrested by the KGB on 19 December 2010 during the mass detentions that followed protests against the results of Belarus’ flawed presidential elections. Her passport was confiscated and she had to report to local police daily. Facing charges which could lead to lengthy imprisonment, she fled Belarus and sought asylum in Poland.
Declared a ‘Hero of Europe’ by Time magazine and winner of the 2013 PEN Pinter Prize, Irina Khalip is the Minsk-based correspondent for Russian newspaper Novaya Gazeta. She has been the subject of death threats, intimidation, all-night interrogations and beatings at the hands of the police and the KGB.
Anne Bihan has lived in New Caledonia since 1993. She was a guest poet/translator representing New Caledonia at the 2008 Franco-Anglais Poetry Festival and was subsequently invited to work with berni janssen, co-ordinator of the APWN (Asia and Pacific Writers Network). Anne will be an invaluable link with the Pacific region.
Seedy Bojang is a journalist and writer from The Gambia. After the closure of independent newspapers in The Gambia, Seedy was briefly employed by the government-supported Gambia newspaper. His employment was terminated because he would not write articles supporting the government.
After facing years of repression in Iran, Rosa has made a new life in Melbourne. She is the author and illustrator of eight children’s books, a painter, an organiser of musical gatherings, and is currently completing an Iranian cookbook. In 2009 she published her book Where is the justice? Stories from behind closed doors.
Behrouz Boochani is a Kurdish-Iranian journalist and writer who escaped Iran in fear of persecution due to his work, preserving Kurdish culture. Currently detained on Manus Island, Boochani has been waiting for over three years now to have his claims heard and determined by Australian Immigration officials, hoping to be granted asylum in Australia. Boochani continues to write and publish, remains active as a human rights defender, and is recognised as such by the UN.