Sydney PEN is disturbed by reports of the arrest of an Egyptian publisher, Ahmed Mahanna, following his release of a book praising the former UN nuclear agency head and Nobel Prize winning Mohamed ElBaradei. As yet unconfirmed by International PEN, the arrest was reported in The Guardian and has been criticised by ElBaradei himself.
Pyrmont Village community website is launching an open essay competition focussed on highlighting everyday Australians' views about the NSW State Government's existing and proposed censorship of the internet.
A distinguished judging panel will award $2, 000 cash to an essayist whose work achieves the objectives of the prize. Entries close June 7, 2010.
For more details and an entry form, visit the competition website.
We proudly "go live" with our new website this March, providing members with a resource for news and events, and visitors with information about our work. We will also be building a Media Centre to archive our releases and media coverage, and in the coming month will add a membership and donation module through which all future memberships and renewals will be processed.
Sydney PEN thanks the team at Inventive Labs, led by Virginia Murdoch, for their insight, patience and design vision as creators of this site.
We would also like to acknowledged the pro-bono host of our previous site, BarNet, which was also a part of the early design process.
We are very pleased to announce that our new Executive Officer, Jacqueline Woodman, will be working with her small team at the Australian Writers' Foundation to undertake our administrative duties. We will continue to work with accountant Peter Walford and NFP Bookkeeping in partnership with the AWF to oversee our accounts throughout the year and at year's end.
This means that for the first time Sydney PEN will have a "home" in Sydney where the public is able to drop in. The AWF staff, housed within the Australian Writers' Guild at Chippendale, is located very close to our casual office in the Creative Practices Department of UTS.
Honorary Members and subject of our centre’s recent advocacy campaign, Father Thadeus Nguyen Van Ly has been probationally released from imprisonment in Vietnam. Priest, scholar and signatory to the Bloc 8406 pro-democracy movement, Father Ly suffered two strokes in 2009 and has been in solitary confinement and in partial paralysis in recent months. Father Ly was released on Monday March 15th, five years shy of his eight-year sentence handed down in March 2007 for “harming national security”.
Since 2007 our letter-writers and members have campaigned Ambassador to Vietnam, Allaster Cox, to raise Father Ly’s case with the Vietnamese government. Cox has been responsive to our campaigns, raising the case at the 7th Australia-Vietnam Human Rights Dialogue in December and again in February. Father Ly has been featured in The Empty Chair at UTS Broadway and at several of our recent events in Sydney. US advocacy group, Freedom Now, filed a petition with the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention in February, backed by several US senators.
Father Ly has spent over 15 years in prison since 1977, over a long career of human rights activism. He was probationally released to his family and diocese in stable health but with long-term ailments apparently resulting from his strokes and imprisonment. Sydney PEN will continue to monitor news of Father Ly and to urge the Vietnamese government to release him unconditionally from probation.