We must defend peaceful dissent and reporting in times of war

Over two weeks have passed since the massacre of Israeli civilians by Hamas, and its kidnapping of over 200 men, women and children, actions that shocked the world.  Since then, the world has watched with horror as the number of Palestinian civilian casualties climbs sharply from Israel’s military response, and as the conditions in Gaza deteriorate from the ongoing siege. 

 We feel profound sympathy for the innocent victims of this conflict – Jews and Arabs, inhabitants of Gaza and Israel, and others of many nations caught up in the hostilities.    

In the midst of these intense emotions, shared throughout our community, PEN Canada renews its call for all parties to protect writers and journalists who are reporting on the war and to respect the right of all people to express differing viewpoints on the conflict. 

It is PEN’s mission to uphold the  freedom to peacefully express all points of view. This freedom is never more important than at moments of international crisis.

There is no place for antisemitism, Islamophobia or the celebration of violence in political commentary.  Nor should criticism or support of either side be reflexively conflated with racism or support for terror. 

PEN Canada remains deeply concerned about the death and injury of journalists covering the conflict.  The mounting casualties among reporters and the destruction of communications infrastructure, whether deliberate or not, denies the world critical information about the conflict  and makes access to information from Gaza, so crucial in a time of war, precarious or impossible.

PEN Canada is
 a nonpartisan organization that celebrates literature, defends freedom of expression, and assists writers in peril at home and abroad. The English-language Canadian centre was founded in 1983 and is proud to be one of over 100 chapters of PEN International.