Saturday, November 10, 2012

Pen Flanders-writers in prison committee

A small but dedicated group from WIPC-Flanders gathered last night to discuss the situation of writers who are in prison for exercising their right to free speech and freedom of expression. World politics obviously influence what the causes and issues are. For instance, before the bloody civil war in Syria, we would receive regularly rapid action requests. But since there are no officials one can really talk to or send a card or letter to, we have received no requests at all. On the other hand: Mexico, Russia and Belarus, China, Turkye, Cameroon will keep us busy enough. Sadly. The subject of Internet freedom also arose: Each person has the right to search the net for information or to publish on the net. Network providers who squeal to the authorities (like in China where you cannot use the word Tibet in a post) should adhere to the code of ethics of the net. Next year May there will be the International WIPC conference in Krakow: a good time to reconnect and get to know people in trouble, learn how other chapters work and be recharged for enthousiastic work. There is however a relatively new element to deal with: Chilling. An author is threatened by a corporation, a group not to publish or else... Usually the threat is to one's livelihood or one's family. it can also be a barrage of hate mail, like happened to one of our members. As my brother wrote in his last letter, our father often pointed out: "The price of freedom is eternal vigilance".

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