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 PEN Melbourne

The Writers in Prison Committee of PEN International was set up in 1960 as a result of mounting concern about attempts to silence critical voices around the world. An office was set up at the PEN head office in London to gather information and to alert the PEN membership to take action. The WiPC is now staffed by a team of experts who monitor around 1,000 attacks on writers, journalists, editors, poets, publishers and others in any given year. These include long prison terms, harassment, threats, and murder.

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Kurdish writer and filmmaker Behrouz Boochani has been detained and marooned on Manus Island for five years by the Australian government.

Seeking refuge from persecution in his own country, Behrouz has committed no crime, he has been held without charge. The refugees and asylum seekers on Manus Island and Nauru have suffered the most inhumane conditions and to date twelve have died while in immigration detention. Throughout this time Behrouz has kept writing, under impossible conditions. And now, we have his book – No Friend but the Mountains: Writing from Manus Prison, translated from the Farsi by Omid Tofighian.

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On World Refugee Day 2018 we are highlighting our campaign, Make Space, on displaced and exiled writers.

At PEN Melbourne we have been supporting Behrouz Boochani, Kurdish-Iranian journalist, writer, and asylum seeker, detained by Australia for years now.

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The fact that Rosie Scott’s friends have known the desperate state of her health for many months doesn’t lighten the blow of losing her. A fine writer, a beautiful and generous friend has gone from among us. Over the last decade and a half we have grown to admire the Rosie Scott who will continue to be admired even by those who didn’t have the good fortune to know her. Rosie was a hero in the fight to give voices to the despised and rejected, and to make Australia a more generous and right-thinking place than venal politicians have, it seems, have made it.

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The PEN community is deeply saddened by the death of dissident writer, Independent Chinese PEN Centre (ICPC) member and Nobel Peace Prize winner, Liu Xiaobo, soon after his release from prison following his diagnosis of late-stage liver cancer. Xiaobo passed away on Thursday, July 13. Xiaobo had led an exceptional live and will always be remembered. More about it on PEN International News page.

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We are very concerned for the safety of detained Kurdish journalist Behrouz Boochani, who has been reporting from within Australia’s immigration detention centre on Manus Island for more than three years.

Over the past week he has reported on the death of Faysal Ishak Ahmed, an inmate in the detention centre, and more recently on the beating of two refugees by immigration officers and police on Manus Island.

As a member of PEN Melbourne, you will receive a monthly Update with news about our activities and campaigns, and invitations to a program of events with renowned Australian and international writers and activists. The PEN Melbourne Journal is also produced twice a year and distributed free to members.

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