This year, PEN International is celebrating the rights of all citizens on Press Freedom Day. As always, we champion the rights of media organizations and journalists to safe, uncensored reporting and publication and pay tribute to those who have been killed and disappeared. But we celebrate especially the rights of all citizens to untrammelled access to information and truth…
Who is defined as a writer today? How do we advocate most effectively in an online world? How can we create a national conversation about freedom of expression? The internet has meant that though ideas can spread further and more quickly than ever before, there are also more opportunities than ever for free speech to be curtailed.
Bo Xilai, the former boss of the Chongqing Communist Party, was recently sacked after a corruption scandal involving his family. Jiang Weiping, an Honorary Member of PEN Canada, is a Chinese journalist who served a six year prison sentence for “inciting subversion of state power” after he published an exposé of Bo’s corruption more than a decade ago.
“We cannot expect Canadian scientists to work productively for the greater good at home, or exert Canadian influence abroad, if their work is routinely subordinated to the demands of political messaging. If this is not the case, the government should offer a plausible explanation for its actions.”
This amendment was the focus of our recent delegation to Mexico City, and in particular of our conversation with the President of the Senate and other Senators. Its passage is a very important step in the reforming of Mexican law to make it serve the freedom of expression of Mexican writers and Mexican citizens as a whole.
“As a dentist I could only open one mouth at a time,” quipped Zarganar. “But when I tell jokes I open many mouths.”
PEN Canada welcomes the release of Maung Thura – the Burmese poet and comedian better known as ‘Zarganar’ – in an amnesty for several hundred prisoners in Myanmar. Zarganar is an Honorary Member of PEN Canada and the recipient of our 2008 One Humanity Award.