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Writers and print journalists in Uzbekistan, Russia and Azerbaijan who are either in prison

PEN International | 11 April 2013

PEN international

Dear PEN Centres,

We are writing to you with a request for help from your Centre to aid our colleagues writers and print journalists in Uzbekistan, Russia and Azerbaijan who are either in prison or on trial on charges of insult or defamation; who fear retaliation for reporting on certain matters and those who fear state surveillance and attacks for exercising freedom of assembly; as well as those communities that have their linguistic rights disregarded.

In late April and early May the human rights records of these three countries will come under review for the first time under the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) mechanism of the United Nations (UN). This is a unique opportunity for PEN to raise its longstanding concerns about attacks on writers in those countries, and it is essential that as many PEN members as possible take action to ensure that our voice is heard within the UN.

In preparation for the coming review, in October 2012 PEN international and our colleague organisations International Publishers Association (IPA) and the International Partnership Group for Azerbaijan (IPGA), filed reports to the United Nations expressing concerns on Uzbekistan, Russia and Azerbaijan. These reports are attached to this message (the ones on Uzbekistan and Azerbaijan are in English and the report on Russia is in Russian).

Our request is for you to write to your Country’s representative in Geneva to ask that during the review, their delegation makes the recommendations for one or all three countries, according to the sample letter attached to this e-mail. You may wish to copy the reports on the three countries to the delegations in Geneva to support your request.

Follow this link to find the contact details of the representative of your country to the United Nations in Geneva, click here.

Please do this as soon as you can, so that as many delegations as possible hear from their PEN centres before 22 April.

Please let us know if you take action and if you receive any response from your government representatives.

PEN International will be conducting advocacy on freedom of expression in Uzbekistan, Russia, Azerbaijan and Cameroon at the forthcoming UPR session. We will be co-hosting two side events with Article 19 in the UN Palais des Nations in Geneva. At the first event, Freedom of Expression in Russia, Russian PEN’s Alexey Simonov will be part of a panel discussing the current situation of freedom of expression in Russia. This will take place on April 30 from 12.30 – 2.30. The second event, Freedom of Expression in Azerbaijan, will also take place in Palais des Nations on 1 May from 12.30 to 2.30. We warmly invite you to attend the events if possible, and ask you to encourage your contacts in Geneva to join us for what promise to be lively debates. Further details will be posted on PEN’s International’s website closer to the time.

Over the coming weeks, we will also be running an online campaign on PEN’s submissions to the UPR so please do check the website for updates.

If you have any questions, please contact Sarah Clarke e.

Thank you in advance for your support,


Sarah Clarke | International Policy and Advocacy Officer | Encargada de políticas | Responsable de politiques | PEN International t. +44 (0)20 7405 0338

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