Dear friends and comrades in Kurdish PEN,
Please accept our warmest greetings from PEN Sydney. We would like to extend our congratulations for your conference and wish you success and great policies and plans for the years ahead.
It is disturbing to hear that you are holding your conference in exile. It demonstrates the fact that freedom of expression is under brutal attack from many governments around the world, including where the Kurds live. Censorship causes pain, suffering and prevents society from flourishing.
In Sydney we are aware of the many Kurdish writers, intellectuals, journalists and activists who have had their freedom taken away by the authorities in Turkey, Iran, Iraq including the KRG and Syria – also those who have written about Kurdistan in general. PEN Sydney, on many occasions, has highlighted their cases and supported them.
PEN Sydney was instrumental in the recognition of Behrooz Bouchani, the Kurdish writer who was detained by the Australian government on Manus Island, who was the recipient of the Victorian Prize for Literature in 2019. We have run many advocacy campaigns for Iranian writers in prison, including Arash Ganji, who has been imprisoned for 11 years for translation of a book about Rojava. We also ran a campaign in September 2021 in support of imprisoned journalists and activists in Badinan, Kurdistan of Iraq. Last year at our Writers in Prison night the empty chair was allocated to İlhan Sami Çomak, a Kurdish poet who has been in jail since 1994 in Turkey. In December last year PEN Sydney also held a solidarity night in support of the writer and politician Selahattin Demirtaş in which Burhan Sonmez the President of PEN International spoke about his experiences as a Kurd in Turkey and the importance of PEN campaigns.
Comrades and friends in Kurdish PEN, once again we would like to send you our best wishes, your fight for freedom and against censorship is our fight.
Your friends in PEN Sydney,