Monday, October 20, 2008

News from International PEN and All India PEN center, West Bengal

News from International PEN and All India PEN center, West Bengal :

PEN All India Centre: Distinguished writers condemn continuing attacks on Christians

Dear Friends of International PEN,
We write to express our anguish and outrage at the continuing brutalities visited upon Christian communities and places of worship in Orissa and Karnataka, and elsewhere in India, as well as at the pusillanimous attitude of our political leaders towards the perpetrators of these atrocities.
While the police have stood by and watched churches being desecrated and acts of assault and rape carried out, the Central Government has reacted vigorously only after representatives of the European Union expressed their concern. The perceived damage to India's international image should not be a greater concern than the actual damage that such violence causes to the inclusive, multi-religious and multi-ethnic character of Indian society.
This violence is a failure of our political institutions and of civil society. It is a consequence of our failure to uphold the principles of the rule of law, mutual understanding, and civil dialogue. Eventually, such violence does not remain confined to a few clearly targeted victims. Rather, it spreads to engulf and destroy the entire society that spawns it, as is evident in neighbouring Pakistan and Sri Lanka, for instance.
The worst contributors to this scenario are politicians who dream of electoral victory at the cost of social catastrophe. The powerful ideal of 'unity in diversity', which has held this country together for six decades, has been seriously imperilled by the use of religious and ethnic prejudice as a political weapon. Intolerance of those different from ourselves, and the abandoning of reasoned discussion to deal with differences, spells the end of the India for which the freedom struggle was waged.
More and more of us must come out and say clearly that we do not share the dreams of these cynical opportunists. Their India is not the India we dream of. The India we dream of is a just society, not an aggressive power.
We call upon the Indian Government to ensure that hate speech is outlawed from the domain of public discourse. We also call upon the Indian Government to outlaw those political parties which, directly or through their cohorts, promote communal discord and encourage violence. The rule of law implies that every citizen's life is sacred. Let the law act decisively to punish those who perpetrate the appalling crimes of pogrom and murder.
Girish Karnad, Salman Rushdie, Amitav Ghosh, Vikram Seth, Ramachandra Guha, Kiran Nagarkar , Amit Chaudhuri, Mukul Kesavan, Suketu Mehta, Ranjit Hoskote, Arundhathi Subramaniam, Sampurna Chattarji, Nancy Adajania
Shuddhabrata Sengupta, Shobhana Bhattacharji, Romesh Bhattacharji, Sridala Swami,
The PEN All-India Centre

And a member of West Bengal PEN, Albert Ashok, expresses his anger and protest against the lawlessness in the region where Christians are being persecuted and Government failed to secure the right to freedom of religion in his blog.
Click The link:

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Join ‘English PEN and the writer Evelio Rosero

News from 'ENGLISH PEN'
Writers in Translation are promoting an exciting book The Armies by an established Colombian author Evelio Rosero. Please join ‘English PEN’ and the writer at the London Review Bookshop on 21 October at 7pm. Tickets are available by calling the shop on 020 7269 9030.
Venue: London Review Bookshop, 14 Bury Place, WC1A 2JL London
Evelio Rosero: The Armies
Tuesday 21 October

If you ask Colombians how Evelio Rosero's novel fares in his own country they tell you that you will scarcely find a copy. This magisterial, beautiful, book is effectively suppressed. What is going on in that endlessly tortured country cannot go on being suppressed and ignored outside Colombia. Ismael, a retired school teacher in a small Colombian village, gathers oranges, admires beautiful women and has, in the opening pages, an idyllic everyday life. Then the village is ransacked by an obscure militia and he is thrown into the fray and his mental stability collapses. The horrors which overwhelm the inhabitants of this village have become an everyday occurrence in Colombia. Villagers are kidnapped, killed, they disappear at the hands of unidentified groups - the armies of the title: guerillas, paramilitaries, drugs traffickers. Rosero does not directly describe the reality of an unpredictable, violent world, he imitates it in the mind of a man going mad. In this story, no-one is spared, no-one is protected.
Evelio Rosero studied Social Communication in the Externado University of Colombia. In 2006 he was awarded the Tusquets National Prize for Literature in Colombia for this novel Los Ejércitos.
Venue: London Review Bookshop, 14 Bury Place, WC1A 2JL London
How to Book: Call the London Review Bookshop on 020 7629 9030.

English PEN's campaign

English PEN's campaigns are motivated by the organisation's belief that literature can be a powerful force for dialogue and understanding between cultures. This principle was laid down by the first President of English and International PEN, John Galsworthy, when he said in 1921: 'Anything that makes for international understanding and peace is to the good'. This principle was developed at the International PEN Symposium, 'Writers in Freedom', held in London in 1941, at which Edvard Beneš spoke of the need for the post-war world to be one in which 'writers and artists may live and create without anxiety for their personal security, without restrictions on their creative freedom'. These comments anticipate the formulation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) in 1948, in which the right to freedom of speech is described as 'the highest aspiration of the common people'.
The UDHR does not create an absolute right to freedom of speech. It is quite different in that respect from the First Amendment to the United States constitution, which says that 'Congress shall make no law […] abridging the freedom of speech'. Instead, the UDHR, and its successor document the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), sets this fundamental right in balance with a range of other rights and freedoms.
The ICCPR creates exceptions to the right to freedom of speech, 'such as are provided by law and are necessary:
(a) For respect of the rights or reputations of others;
(b) For the protection of national security or of public order (ordre public), or of public health or morals.'

These exceptions are further developed in the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR), and incorporated in UK domestic law in the Human Rights Act 1998 (HRA).
The exceptions in Article 10.2 of the ECHR come under the following headings:
• licensing of broadcasting, television or cinema enterprises
• national security
• territorial integrity
• public safety
• prevention of disorder or crime
• protection of health or morals
• protection of the reputation or rights of others• preventing the disclosure of information received in confidence
• maintaining the authority and impartiality of the judiciary

In its campaigns, English PEN accepts that many constraints on the right to freedom of speech are necessary and appropriate. For instance, English PEN would not campaign to reduce broadcasting restrictions such as the 'watershed' principle of screening adult material only after 9pm. Similarly, we would not campaign against the Official Secrets Act, which limits the circulation of information in the interests of national security. Nor would we campaign against reporting restrictions where the right to a fair trial might be impeded by unbalanced coverage in the media. We would not campaign against civil restrictions on defamation, and we would not campaign on behalf of any writer who was guilty of plagiarising the work or assuming the identity of another person.

In its campaigning work (which constitutes around 25% of the organisation's resources) English PEN is guided by the balance struck between the right to freedom of speech and other human rights in international human rights case law. The jurisprudence of the European Court of Human Rights shows that all exceptions to the right to freedom of speech must be necessary, proportionate and subject to the principle of legal certainty, and must not have a chilling effect. Before entering into any such campaign, therefore, English PEN takes the utmost care to confirm that the human rights of a beneficiary or class of beneficiaries are at risk. The organisation follows a clear procedure, in order to show whether a campaign may be necessary in order to meet English PEN's charitable objects.

The Writers in Prison Committee (WiPC) and the office staff are responsible for investigating each case which comes to English PEN's attention. The primary source of information on international campaigns will continue to be the Writers in Prison staff of International PEN (registered charity no. 1117088). Every 'honorary member' adopted by the WiPC is first identified by International PEN. If the Writers in Prison staff of International PEN have any concern about the status of such cases, they will not recommend a case for adoption. Cases rejected by International PEN include the following:

Radio Mille Collines: accused of inciting genocide in Rwanda in the 1990s.• Eduard Limonov: Russian author imprisoned in the late 1990s accused of leading a right-wing organisation linked to racism and the 'planned invasion of Kazakhstan'. International PEN listed his case as one of judicial concern due to poor trial practice. His case was not adopted by English PEN.

Andrei Klimau: Belarus journalist currently in jail. English PEN has not called for his release as the title of the piece for which he has been prosecuted is apparently racist and the article calls for revolution by any means.

Xanana Gusmao: poet and leader of guerrilla group in the 1990s in East Timor. Now East Timor president. English PEN did not call for his release as he led an armed resistance.

Krystian Bala: currently detained in Poland on accusation of murder. Following appeals that he was accused on the basis of fictional writing that depicts a similar crime, International PEN looked into the case and concluded that there was insufficient information to comment. A similar case in New Zealand in the 1990s was also turned down.

Mumia Abu Jamal: former Black Panther, poet and journalist currently on death row in USA. English PEN has not joined others' call for his freedom as we are unable to comment on his guilt or innocence in the murder of a policeman.

As these cases illustrate, International PEN is scrupulous in following its own internal procedures when adopting a case on which to campaign. English PEN adds to this care when it selects honorary members from the International PEN case list. We also use information from the media, government sources, contacts on the ground and fellow centres of International PEN when considering cases for adoption. If it is believed that a campaign may be necessary in order to pursue our objects, then the Writers in Prison Committee and the staff will be charged with devising and implementing such a campaign. If there is any doubt about the status of such a case, a campaign will not be pursued, but we will continue to pursue the truth of the matter.

The OFFENCE Campaign: Free Expression Is No OFFENCE
English PEN launched a campaign in 2005 to raise public awareness around the Government's proposed legislation to outlaw 'incitement to religious hatred'. The Bill as it was first drafted risked making criminals of anyone who voiced critical or satirical opinions of any religious beliefs, believers or practices. It was argued that Salman Rushdie might have been prosecuted under this law, had it existed when The Satanic Verses was published. English PEN feared that the Bill threatened to unduly curtail the public's right to freedom of expression, preventing writers and others from creatively exploring the society in which we live.
Lisa Appignanesi: "The No Offence campaign celebrated its victory in amending the Government's Racial and Religious Hatred Bill at the Garrick Club on 13 March 2006. Lord Lester and Lord Hunt, two of the movers of the amendments were present, as was Evan Harris, MP, who had diligently fought the Bill from the beginning, and many others who had championed the PEN Free Expression Amendment. This is perhaps the first time in British Parliamentary History that a Bill contains a declaratory amendment: one which fully spells out the right of free speech. The campaign's work is done, but English PEN's larger role in deliberating on Free Expression in our 21st century goes on. We are putting in place a Commission on Free Speech. Any thoughts on this or help with funding is welcome.

For More Information:

The Writers in Prison Committee

About International PEN and Originally founded in 1921 to promote literature, International PEN now has 145 Centres in 104 countries across the globe. The primary goal is to engage with, and empower, societies and communities across cultures and languages, through reading and writing and the exchange of ideas. We believe that writers can play a crucial role in changing and developing civil society. We do this through the promotion of literature, international campaigning on issues such as translation and freedom of expression and improving access to literature at international, regional and national levels.

The Writers in Prison Committee of International PEN was set up in 1960 as a result of mounting concern about attempts to silence critical voices around the world through the detention of writers. It works on behalf of all those who are detained or otherwise persecuted for their opinions expressed in writing and for writers who are under attack for their peaceful political activities or for the practice of their profession, provided that they did not use violence or advocate violence or racial hatred.

Member centres of International PEN are active in campaigning for an improvement in the conditions of persecuted writers and journalists.
They send letters to the governments concerned and lobby their own governments to campaign for the release of detained writers and for investigations in cases of torture and killings. Through writing to the families and, where possible, directly to prisoners, they provide encouragement and hope.

Our membership is open to all published writers who subscribe to the PEN Charter regardless of nationality, language, race, colour or religion. International PEN is a non-political organisation and has special consultative status at UNESCO and the United Nations.

PEN affirms that:
1. Literature knows no frontiers and must remain common currency among people in spite of political or international upheavals.
2. In all circumstances, and particularly in time of war, works of art, the patrimony of humanity at large, should be left untouched by national
or political passion.
3. Members of PEN should at all times use what influence they have in favour of good understanding and mutual respect between nations; they
pledge themselves to do their utmost to dispel race, class and national hatreds, and to champion the ideal of one humanity living in peace in
one world.
4. PEN stands for the principle of unhampered transmission of thought within each nation and between all nations, and members pledge themselves to oppose any form of suppression of freedom of expression in the country and community to which they belong, as well as throughout the world wherever this is possible.

PEN declares for a free press and opposes arbitrary censorship in time of peace. It believes that the necessary advance of the world towards a more highly organized political and economic order renders a free criticism of governments, administrations and institutions imperative. And since freedom implies voluntary restraint, members pledge themselves to oppose such evils of a free press as mendacious publication, deliberate falsehood and distortion of facts for political and personal ends.
Membership of PEN is open to all qualified writers, editors and translators who subscribe to these aims, without regard to nationality, ethnic origin, language, colour or religion.

The WiPC gathers its information from a wide variety of sources. It seeks to confirm its information through two independent sources. Where its information is unconfirmed, it will either take not action, or send an appeal worded to reflect the fact that the information is as yet incomplete.
Sources include press reports, reports form individuals in the region in question, reports from other human rights groups PEN members themselves, embassy officials, academics, prisoners’ families, lawyers and friends, and exile groups. It also works with international NGOs,
such as Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch. It is a founder member of IFEX – the International Freedom of Expression Exchange. IFEX is a collaborative, on-line service in which several groups involved in the campaign for free expression pool information.
Other members include Article 19, the Committee to Protect Journalists, Index on Censorship, the International Federation of Journalists and Reporters sans Frontieres, as well as regional and national groups. For further details see the IFEX website

The work of the Writers in Prison Committee is supported by:
OXFAM/NOVIB, Swedish International Development Foundation, Norwegian Ministry for Foreign Affairs, the Fritt Ord Foundation, UNESCO, Individual donations and membership fees from PEN members
International PEN is a registered charity in the United Kingdom, number 1117088
For information about how to get involved and support International PEN contact us at:
International PEN, Brownlow House, 50 – 51 High Holborn, London, WC1V 6ER or tel: +44 (0) 207 405 0338

The Writers in Prison Committee of International PEN records of persecuted writers are updated daily. For up-to-date information on a particular country (or countries), contact the Writers in Prison Committee headquarters in London.
Anyone wishing to take action on any individual mentioned in this Caselist should contact the Writers in Prison Committee headquarters for any update there may be on the case and for advice on appeals.

Explanation of Terms Used Important: Please Read Main Cases
Those cases listed as 'main cases' are those where the Writers in Prison Committee is confident that:
i. the person is a writer or journalist or is persecuted because of their writings;
ii. the person has not used violence towards his or her aims or advocated racial hatred.

In these cases, the Writers in Prison Committee will take all possible action for their release or for compensation. In cases where a prisoner is held without charge or trial for a considerable length of time, the Writers in Prison Committee will consider them to be a main case until and unless information is provided which shows that they have used violence or advocated racial hatred.

Judicial concern
These are cases where the main concern includes convictions based on trial proceedings which were manifestly unfair, where there are serious concerns regarding allegations of torture or where there are other irregularities in the judicial process. In these cases, the Writers in Prison Committee calls for a re-trial following fair trial practice or is calling for an investigation of the alleged malpractice and for those found guilty of committing such acts as torture to be brought to justice.

Investigation case
An investigation case is one where the Writers in Prison Committee:
i. needs more information to ascertain whether a person is a writer or is persecuted for their writings;
ii. is not clear as to whether or not he or she has used violence or advocated racial hatred;
iii. has insufficient information to confirm that the event has taken place;
iv. is seeking confirmation that the person is still detained.

The Writers in Prison Committee publishes details of investigation cases so as to provide a complete account of reports of abuses against individuals practicising their right to free expression in all countries. However, it will not usually call for their release. Once sufficient
information is available, their cases will be reclassified as a main case or dropped as appropriate.
'*' by a name indicates that the case is new to the Committee's list since the last Writers in Prison Committee report. The last report was dated December 2007.

Judicial Concern – sentence dropped
Samina MALIK (f): age 23. Former shop worker at Heathrow Airport.
Self styled “Lyrical Terrorist” for her poetry. The first woman to be
convicted under Britian’s Anti Terror Act. Arrested in October 2006 and
held under house arrest until sentenced by a jury on 6 December 2007 to 8 months in prison suspended for 18 months. Convicted for having publications including “The Al-Qaeda Manual” and “The Mujahideen Poisons Handbook” considered under the “likely to be useful to a person committing or preparing an act of terrorism”. Malik had also posted poems on the Internet that praised martyrdom, described beheadings and hatred of non-Muslims. She later in court described her poems as “meaningless”,
an attempt to be “cool” and had been taken too literally. On 17
June 2008 the Court of Appeal decided to quash the sentence given to
Malik, stating that the conviction for possessing items of use to terrorism was unsafe. Referring to Section 58 of the Terrorism Act, the Court concluded that the offence would be committed under that legislation only if a document was likely to provide practical assistance to a person committing or preparing the act of terrorism, and that this did not occur in Malik’s case.


Death sentence: Main case
*Sayed Parwez KAMBAKHSH:
D.o.b.: 1985 Profession: Student at Balkh university and reporter for the local daily Jahan-e-Naw (The New World). Date of arrest: 27 October 2007. Sentence: Sentenced to death. Details of arrest: Arrested in Mazar-i-Sharif, Balkh province, northern Afghanistan for distributing allegedly anti-Islamic literature. He was detained by National Directorate of Security (NDS) forces on blasphemy charges after allegedly downloading and giving to friends an article claiming that the Prophet Mohammed ignored women’s rights. He was not the author of the article. He was also reportedly accused of possessing anti-Islamic books and starting un-Islamic debates in his classes.

Details of trial: He was tried by an Islamic court in the northern city of Mazar-i-Sharif, Balkh Province, on 22 January 2008, and sentenced to death. The trial was reportedly held behind closed doors, and he had no legal representation. The appeal hearing at the Kabul Appeal Court has been adjourned four times since it opened on 18 May 2008. No date has been set for the next hearing.
Place of detention: Initially, he was detained in Pul-e-Sharkhi
jail, east of the capital city. On 27 March 2008 he was transferred to
Kabul. Other information: He is feared to be targeted for association
with his brother, prominent journalist Sayed Yaqub Ibrahimi, who works for the Institute of War and Peace Reporting and has been under escalating pressure for his critical reporting on local officials and warlords.
(RAN 2/08 – 24 January 2008; Update #1 – 4 June 2008; Update #2 – 24 June 2008)

*Dr Khalil NARMGOI: Satirist and medical doctor. Reportedly arrested on 10 June 2008 for writing a letter critical of the government, published in the weekly Paiam Mojahed. Said to have been briefly detained several months ago after the letter’s publication, and forced to make a public apology. Now said to have been re-arrested and sentenced to one year in prison for the letter. Reportedly held in Kabul. WiPC seeking further details.

Brief detention
*Rabiul ISLAM: Journalist for the Bangla language newspaper Daily
Sunshine, based in Rajshahi, was reportedly taken to into custody for
twelve hours and accused of participating in a robbery. Islam has written on alleged corruption and malpractice in the police in Durgapur. Islam’s family had to provide statements as to his good character on 28 March 2008, in order to be released.
*Tasneem KHALIL: Journalist for the English language newspaper The Daily Star and consultant for Human Rights Watch, was held by the Directorate General of Forces Intelligence (DGFI) in a clandestine detention centre, for twenty-two hours on 11 May 2007. According to reports, armed men claiming to belong to the ‘joint forces’ went into Khalil’s flat, located in central Dhaka, blindfolded him and took him to a waiting vehicle. The journalist was put in an interrogation cell, where he was reportedly beaten and threatened with execution, and forced to confess to anti-state activities and smuggling sensitive information regarding national security to foreign organisations. After his release, the journalist went into hiding and is now seeking asylum. (HWR report )
Death threat
*Arefin SIDDIQUE: Professor of mass communication at Dhaka
University, received several telephone death threats, by anonymous
callers, during February 2008. It has been reported that Professor
Siddique has repeatedly called for democracy in Bangladesh.
On trial, free on bail
Salah Uddin Shoaib CHOUDHURY: Editor of the tabloid weekly
Blitz. Arrested on 29 November 2003 by security personnel at Zia
International Airport in Dhaka. He was reportedly on his way to Israel to participate in a conference with the Hebrew Writers Association when he was arrested. Choudhury is believed to have been going to address a writers’ symposium in Tel Aviv entitled Bridges Through Culture, and was scheduled to speak about the role of the media in establishing peace.
Choudhury is known for his attempts to improve relations between
Muslim countries and Israel, and has written articles against anti-Israeli attitudes in Muslim countries and about the rise of al-Qaeda in
Bangladesh, which had reportedly sparked debate in the Bangladeshi
press and government prior to his arrest. Choudhury was accused of
spying for Israel, and was repeatedly denied a bail hearing. He was
released on bail on 2 May 2005 following appeals by PEN USA. His trial
started on 5 April 2006, and is ongoing as of 30 June 2008. Choudhury
continues as editor of Blitz and remains under pressure from the government and extremist groups for his critical writings.
Honorary member of: USA PEN and English PEN. (Update #4 to RAN 23/04, 26 March 07).

Case closed
Jahangir Alam AKASH: Reporter for the daily Dainik Sangbad.
Reportedly taken from his home on 23 October 2007 in the northwestern City of Rajshahi, by members a government task force and arrested under the Emergency Power Rules of 2007. He was jailed on extortion charges but it is thought that his arrest could be linked to his writings. Akash has been harassed on many occasions because of his investigative reporting. He was reportedly transferred to a prison hospital a few days after his arrest because of injuries he sustained from being beaten in custody. He was released on bail in late November 2007. Case closed for lack of further information.

Killed: Investigation
*Md MUSLIMUDDIN: Correspondent for the Asamiya Pratidin and president of the Morajhar Press Club, was killed on 1 April 2008. Reportedly assaulted by a group of unknown people who attacked him with sharp weapons. He was died on his way to the Guwahati Medical hospital.
*Kumar KETKAR: Editor of the Marathi language daily Loksatta.
Ketar’s home was reportedly attacked by members of the Shiv Sangram political group on 5 June 2008, in the state of Maharashtra, western India. It is believed that the attack is linked to an editorial which criticized the building a 94 metre high statue. Ketkar and his wife were unharmed, but their home was badly damaged. The police have reportedly detained seven of the attackers.
Taslima NASRIN (f)
Profession: Bangladeshi feminist writer. Controversial Bangladeshi feminist writer Taslima Nasrin was held in a government safe house in Delhi after violent protests broke out by Muslim extremists in Kolkata, West Bengal, on 21 November 2007, where Ms Nasrin was living in
exile. Previous political imprisonment/problems: Novelist, poet and journalist Taslima Nasrin was publicly condemned to death in Bangladesh for ‘blasphemy’ and a reward given for her execution on 16 September 1993 by members of an armed militant Muslim group, due to her novel Lajja (Shame). Instead of condemning the calls for Nasrin’s murder, the Bangladesh authorities charged Nasrin, on 4 June 1994, with ‘deliberate and malicious intention of hurting the religious sentiments’ for an interview given to an Indian newspaper. Nasrin fled to Europe on 10 August 1994 and has since lived abroad. Her trial started in Dhaka on 10 December 1994 in absentia, and has remained pending hearing for several years. Her latest novels continue to be banned by the Bangladeshi authorities on the strength of their allegedly ‘anti-Islamic’ content. More than ten years since she fled Bangladesh, Nasrin still cannot return without fear for her security, and for the past three years she has lived in Kolkata, West Bengal, where she had applied for Indian citizenship. On 19 March 2008, Nasrin left India for Europe.
Honorary member of: Canadian, USA, American, French, Swedish, Swiss German, English, Austrian and Turkish PEN.

Case closed
S.K AKHTAR, Irfaan KHAN, Vitusha OBEROI and M.K TAYAL:
Publisher, cartoonist and editors respectively of the Midday newspaper.
Sentenced to four months in prison on 21 September 2007 on charges of ‘contempt of court’. The sentence comes after the newspaper for which all four men work published a series of investigative reports and a cartoon criticising the rulings of a former Supreme Court judge which
benefited his sons. The sentence was appealed. Case closed for lack of
further information.

Killed: Motive unknown
*Khadim Hussain SHEIKH: Local bureau chief for the national Urdulanguage daily newspaper Khabrein, was reportedly shot dead in the province of Baluchistan, south-western of the country, on 14 April 2008. Sheikh’s brother reported that three men, each on a motorbike, carried out the shooting, checked to confirm if the journalist was dead and then left the scene. The motive for the murder is not known.
Disappeared: Investigation
Javed LEHRI: Reporter for the daily Azadi based in Quetta. Also a
member of a Baloch student opposition party. Reportedly went missing
in the Khuzdar region of Balochistan province on 29 November 2007.
His family and colleagues believe the intelligence services are responsible for his disappearance. The Azadi is known for its critical reporting of the military’s operations in Balochistan. The police have denied any involvement, but it is said that the security services are holding hundreds of opposition members in Balochistan. No further information as of 30 June 2008.
Imprisoned: Investigation
Abdur Rahim MUSLIM DOST. Afghan national, poet and magazine
editor. Dost spent almost three years in US detention at Guantanamo Bay after being arrested with his younger brother in November 2001 by the Peshawar authorities then handed over to the US in February 2002. He was eventually released without charge on 20 April 2005 and returned to Pakistan. On 29 September 2006 he was again reportedly arrested in Peshawar by officers of the police Crime Investigation Department and an intelligence agency. Dost filed a habeas corpus petition on 5 October 2006 in the Peshawar High Court and the court subsequently requested information on his whereabouts from the the federal and provincial authorities. He has reportedly still not been charged with a criminal offence and has not been brought before a magistrate. It is thought his arrest may be linked to a book he had written about his experiences as a detainee in Guantanamo Bay. Reported to remain detained in Peshawar Central Jail as of 30 June 2008.

*Hameed BALOCH and Khalil KHOSA: Journalists for the Urdu language
Urdu language Baloch daily, went missing in Balochistan province, south-west of the country. On 29 February 2008, Khosa was last seen attending a news conference in the town of Nasirabad. There are reports that his disappearance could be linked to articles criticising some political parties who participated in the recent parliamentary elections. The Balochistan Union of Journalists (BUJ) reported that on 3 March 2008, Hameed Baloch was kidnapped in Taftan, near the Iranian border, and that his kidnap could be related to tribal rivalry or political parties. No further news as of 30 June 2008.

*Aoun SAHI: Reporter of the daily newspaper The News. Reportedly beaten by the police in the eastern province of Punjab on 5 February 2008. The attack occurred when he was travelling to Sialkot, and was stopped by the police. The journalist objected and showed his credentials, but was immediately taken to the Daska police station where policemen beat him using belts and iron bars. Later, the police chief of Sialkot suspended two officers and announced an investigation into the case.

On trial
Rehmat Shah AFRIDI
Profession: Editor-in-chief of the Peshawar-based English language
daily The Frontier Post and its Urdu sister-paper Maidan. Date of arrest:
2 April 1999 Sentence: Death, commuted to life imprisonment. Details of arrest: Reportedly arrested on drugs charges, after Anti-Narcotics Force (ANF) officers allegedly found 21 kilograms of hashish in his car. He denies the charges and his colleagues believe his arrest to be politically motivated. Shortly before his arrest, Afridi had reportedly published two articles accusing officers of involvement in drug smuggling.
Afridi claims he is the victim of an ANF set-up. Details of trial: On 27 June 2001 Special Judge Syed Kazim Shamsi of the Anti Narcotics Court ruled in favour of a death sentence and a 1,000,000 Rs fine against him. The prosecution reportedly failed to produce any
compelling evidence against him. On 3 June 2004 the death sentence was commuted on appeal by the Lahore High Court and Afridi was instead sentenced to life imprisonment. His sentence was upheld by the Supreme Court on 6 April 2006. On 24 May 2008 Afridi was freed on parole by order of the Punjab’s Interior Ministry for good conduct in prison.
Other information: Father of Mahmood Afridi, managing editor of The Frontier Post charged in January 2001 with blasphemy.

Imprisoned: Investigation
Balasubramanium Wasanthan): Tamil writer and owner of the EKwality printing works and journalist for the Sunday Times newspaper respectively. Reportedly arrested by the anti-terrorist police in Colombo on 6 January and 7 March 2008 respectively for allegedly receiving money from Tamil Tiger rebels. Some reports alleged that Jasikaran and Tissanayagam received funds via the website to help Tamil students. Reportedly badly beaten during the first day of their arrest. On 21 May 2008 it was reported that Tissainayagam was held in poor conditions and that he was suffering from a serious medical condition affecting his sight. On 11 June 2008 it was reported that a 90-day extension order was issued against J. S. Tissainayagam, and that he had limited access to his family, legal representation and information on his case. The court also denied the journalist’s request to be transferred
from the supervision of the Terrorist Investigation Division (TID)
into fiscal custody. V. Jasikaran also remains under detention at the TID as of end June 2008.
*Suhaib M. KASIM: Associate editor of the Tamil daily Thinakaran,
reportedly stabbed at his home in the capital city of Colombo on 28
January 2008. He was treated at the Colombo national hospital. The
editor had reportedly received death threats before the attack.
*Keith NOYAHR: Deputy editor and defence analyst of the weekly The Nation. Reportedly abducted on the evening on 22 May 2008 while
returning to his home, and suffered physical harm while in captivity. He returned home in the early hours of the following day, 23 May. It is
thought the attack could be linked to his reporting and political commentaries on the war in the north of the country.
*Munusami PARAMESHWARI (f): Journalist. Armed men broke into
Parmeshwari’s family home in Gampola, Kandy district, west of the
country, on 14 March 2008. Her father and sister were reportedly badly injured after being beaten with clubs. The family was warned by the group that if the journalist returned to Gampola, she would risk death.
The journalist is reportedly in hiding, after she received death threats.
Parameshwari was previously arrested on 24 November 2006 and held
under anti-terrorist legislation. She was released on 22 March 2007,
without charge.
*Namal PERERA: Freelance journalist and deputy head of the Sri Lanka Press institute (SLPI). Reportedly attacked by four men who attempted to abduct him on 30 June 2008. It is believed that the attack was linked to Perera’s criticism of the government in its campaign against the Tamil rebels.
*Victor SOMAWEERA: Provincial journalist for Lankadeepa in
Bingiriya, west of the country, reportedly stabbed on 10 January 2008.
Thought to have been targeted for his reporting on illegal mining in the
area. On 20 January 2008, three suspects turned themselves to the police.
Death threat
*Frederica JANSZ (f): Editor of the monthly magazine Montage, and
former editor of the Sunday Leader. Reportedly received a telephone
death threat on 14 June 2008. There are also reports that in early may she found a decapitated chicken in front of her office, and that a car was park outside her home on 28 May with its lights and engine on.
Brief detention
*S. Sivakumar (aka Balasubramanium Wasanthan): Editor of the bimonthly Tamil language Sarinihar magazine. Reportedly arrested on 8 March by Terrorist Investigation Department (TID) for alleged links to the Tamil Tigers. Reportedly released after twelve hours of questioning.
*Poddala JAYANTHA: Provincial news editor of the Sinhala-language
weekly Silumina. Reportedly received threats on 7 January 2008 when a group of people dressed in civilian clothes demanded entry to the journalist’s house at 3am, claiming that they were from the police. Jayantha’s wife immediately called for help. The group of men left. When this incident was reported to the police, they denied any involvement.
*Sirimevan KASTHURIARACHCHI: Senior defence reporter for the
newspaper Sinhala Divaina. Reportedly threatened by an unidentified group of people on 29 May 2008, who forcible entered the correspondent’s house and warned him to stop reporting on the Sri Lankan army.
*K. RUSHANGAN: Editor of the Tamil-language news website and the Tamil journal Saamadana Nokku. Reportedly received a threatening phone call on 13 April 2008 from a person who named himself Ealaventhan, and who claimed to be a member of the rebel group the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LITTE).