Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Freedom of ewpression - PEN International

As a member of PEN-Flanders I repost here the point of view of PEN International which I do fully subscribe:

Egypt:  Al-Jazeera journalists must be released
23 June 2014

Harsh prison sentences handed down today to three Al-Jazeera (English) journalists must be overturned and the journalists freed immediately, PEN International said today.

Correspondent Peter Greste, and producers Mohammed Fahmy and Baher Mohammed were sentenced to seven, seven and ten years respectively on charges of having links to a “terrorist organisation” and “spreading false news”.

PEN International believes that their arrest and imprisonment is part of an escalating crackdown on dissent in Egypt, in which journalists, writers, civil rights activists, and independent or critical voices are amongst those targeted for their reporting or peaceful activism.

“These sentences signal a death knell for freedom of expression and the independence of the judiciary in Egypt” said Marian Botsford Fraser, Chair of PEN International’s Writers in Prison Committee.

“The international community must respond swiftly, not only on behalf of foreign journalists, but on behalf of the citizens of Egypt, for whom democracy is in grave danger.”

Al Jazeera correspondent Peter Greste, an Australian national, Mohammed Fahmy, who has dual Canadian and Egyptian nationality, and Egyptian national Baher Mohamed were arrested on 29 December 2013 following Interior Ministry accusations of illegally broadcasting from a hotel suite.

Peter Greste, who has worked for the BBC, is accused of collaborating with “terrorists” by talking to Muslim Brotherhood members. Al-Jazeera Cairo bureau chief Mohammed Fahmy and producer Baher Mohamed are accused of the more serious offence of membership of the Brotherhood.

Al-Jazeera, the Qatar-based TV channel, has said the men were merely reporting the situation in Egypt. Since 25 December 2013 the Egyptian authorities have labelled the Muslim Brotherhood – the political group that the Al-Jazeera journalists are accused of supporting - as a terrorist group.

According to diplomats and rights campaigners who observed the trial, no credible evidence was put forward to support the verdict. The three journalists are planning to appeal their convictions.

PEN calls on Egypt’s interim government to immediately and unconditionally release all those held solely for the peaceful exercise of their right to freedom of expression, in accordance with the international treaties to which it is bound.

For further information please contact Cathy McCann at PEN International Writers in Prison Committee, Brownlow House, 50/51 High Holborn, London WC1V 6ER, Tel.+ 44 (0) 20 7405 0338, Fax: +44 (0) 20 7405 0339, email: cathy.mccann@pen-international.org

Thursday, June 12, 2014

The new system ransacked

Five o'clock  the new speaker phone system worked and looked good. About five hours later a troubled young, swanky oriental man walked from the Harmony Park kicking at cars, breaking windows, making serious dents, screaming. People called the police and by the time he arrived at our front door at least four calls had gone out to the police. Thus at a certain point four police cars were in front of the building. The one which arrived first just happened to drive by and saw that something was seriously wrong. The heavy glass pane at the entrance was kicked at and the new speaker phone system was demolished in a frenzy. I don't know what addled the young man, nor what troubles he had. The neighbors recuperated as many of the parts that were laying around as possible. I realized that these police vans go through a lot of wear and tear since the people they transport are often in an 'acting out' phase. The police never got violent, nor aggressive with the young man, so it was a job well done. I hope he'll be all right after sleeping off what ever it was...

Monday, June 9, 2014

Kathe Kollwitz and her contemporary artists

 Jan is architect and my preferred partner to visit exhibitions. He doesn't only look at the objects shown but notices the relationships of the objects to their environment and comments on how they are placed. The statues on the black pedestals are by Kollwitz, those on the natural wood are by 19 contemporaries some working in different styles. Avant-garde as in the work of Jean Arp, pi├Ętas as the one by Ivan Mestovic' a sculptor whose work I have admired because of the large Prophet - preacher in Split in Croatia, Emiel Jespers, Zadkine....

 Kathe Kollwitz's son fell in Flanders fields on the first day of World War I. She then created the statue 'The grieving parents'. And spoke out against war and violence. Many of the pieces shown at the Bream Pavilion in the Middelheim museum in Antwerp are militant. The artists show us that war brings suffering, that it is filled with mass and personal  suffering. This composition of artists and work shown is a true pacifist statement.  I find the small statue with women and children wave at husbands and fathers who are going to war very moving. The women had to keep the family together, feed the children, work and make money... They also lost their jobs after the war because work was for returning soldiers in all war torn countries. I love the light in this pavilion. The war in sculptures is to me deeply moving and a fitting reminder to work for peace. Some sculptors created work in the trenches with the material the enemy fired at them applying all their craft to turn battle field objects into civilian objects. Another great exhibit at the Middelheim museum.