Friday, April 17, 2009

MEXICO: Journalist and family threatened

MEXICO: Journalist and family threatened; fears for safety

31 March 2009

The Writers in Prison Committee of International PEN (WiPC) protests the threats issued against El Diario de los Altos editor Miguel Ángel Casillas in Jalisco State in March 2009. The threats allegedly come from ‘Los Zetas', a paramilitary criminal gang linked to drug traffickers, on behalf of a local politician, after the newspaper was critical of a dam project in the area. The WiPC is calling on the authorities to provide safety measures for Casillas, his family and other journalists at the newspaper and to carry out a full investigation into the threats.

The following is an urgent action alert issued by Amnesty International on 25 March 2009 (see PEN members are asked to send appeals following the guidance given in the alert as a matter of urgency.

Mexico: Fear for safety: Miguel Angel Casillas Báez (m)
PUBLIC AI Index: AMR 41/017/2009

25 March 2009

UA 82/09 Fear for safety

MEXICO: Miguel Angel Casillas Báez (m), his family and other journalists of the newspaper, Diario de los Altos

Miguel Angel Casillas, editorial director of local newspaper, Diario de los Altos, was threatened on 18 March by a manclaiming to be an official in charge of the Zetas' department (a notoriously criminal organization responsible for hundreds of murders). The threat was made because Miguel Angel Casillas and the newspaper he works for have given critical coverage to a dam development project in el Zapotillo, Los Altos region, Jalisco state.

On 18 March, Miguel Angel Casillas received an anonymous call on his mobile from a mansaying "We know who you are, where you live, where you go, who your family are and we want to know how you are going to cooperate with us" (sabemos quién es usted, sabemos dónde vive, sabemos cómo se mueve, sabemos quién es su familia y queremos saber cómo piensa colaborar con nosotros). The caller insinuated that he was acting on the behalf of a politician who wished to damage Miguel Angel Casillas and added that "from this point on you and your family are at risk" (corre peligro a partir de ahora, usted y su familia).

The day before receiving the anonymous phonecall, Miguel Angel Casillas noticed that both his personal email and that of the newspaper he works for had been hacked. The hackers had left a message stating that "Today the email of the newspaper has been kidnapped. Careful what you publish we don't want to hurt anyone. Regards from Jalisco State Congress, from a friend that likes you a lot and is watching anxiously over you. Rightist Jalisco".(Hoy el secuestro fue del korreo elektonico del medio kuidado kon lo ke publican no keremos lastimar a nadie. Saludos desde el congreso de Jalisco de un amigo que te quiere mucho y te vigila con ansias de encontrarte. Yunque Jalisco)

Miguel Angel Casillas has submitted a official complaint with the Jalisco State Public Prosecutor's Office and the State Human Rights Commission.


The project to build el Zapotillo dam in Jalisco state on the Rio Verde has led to concern among local communities, particularly those of Temacapulín, Palmarejo and Acasico which will be flooded. Despite previous commitments by the state government to consult the public on the project, the Diario de los Altos and local human rights organizations have been critical of the project and the failure of the authorities to consult adequately with local communities or provide reliable and detailed information on impact and compensation packages.

RECOMMENDED ACTION: Please send appeals to arrive as quickly as possible, in Spanish or your own language:
  • Calling for safety measure to be provided for Miguel Angel Casillas Báez, his family and other journalists at the Diario de los Altos and for protection measures to be implemented in accordance with their wishes;
  • Call on the authorities to instigate a thorough, prompt and impartial investigation into the email and telephone threats against Miguel Angel Casillas, including any possible links to local politicians, for the results to be made public and for those responsible to be held to account;
  • Calling on the authorities to fulfil their obligations under the UN Declaration on the Rights and Responsibilities of Individuals, Groups and Organs of Society to Promote and Protect Universally Recognised Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, and ensure that human rights defenders have a right to carry out their activities without any restrictions or fear of reprisals.


Governor of Jalisco
Emilio González Márquez
Gobernador del Estado de Jalisco
Palacio de Gobierno,
Av. Corona No. 31, Planta Baja
Col. Centro
Guadalajara C.P. 44100
Estado de Jalisco
Fax: (+52 33) 36 48 1601/02
Salutation: Dear Governor/ Señor Gobernador

Attorney General of Jalisco
Lic. Tomás Coronado Olmos
Procurador del Estado de Jalisco
Procuraduría General de Justicia del Estado
Calle 14 no. 2567
Colonia Zona Industrial
Guadalajara, C.P. 44940
Estado de Jalisco
Salutation: Dear Attorney/ Señor Procurador

Minister of Interior
Lic. Fernando Francisco Gómez-Mont Urueta
Secretaría de Gobernación
Bucareli 99, 1er. piso,
Col. Juárez, Del. Cuauhtémoc,
México D.F., C.P.06600, MEXICO
Fax: +52 55 5093 3414
Salutation: Señor Secretario/Dear Minister


Human Rights organization
Instituto Mexicano Para el Desarrollo Comunitario (IMDEC), A.C
A.C. Pino 2237-A, Col. del Fresno, Guadalajara, Jalisco C.P 44900

Human Rights Commission of Jalisco
Lic. Felipe de Jesús Álvarez Cibrián, Presidente de la Comisión Estatal de Derechos Humanos de Jalisco,Pedro Moreno No. 1616,Col. Americana, Guadalajara C.P. 44160, Estado de Jalisco,MÉXICO , Fax: (+52 33) 36 69 11 01, Salutation: Dear President/ Señor Presidente

and to diplomatic representatives of Mexico accredited to your country.

***Please send appeals immediately. Check with International PEN if sending appeals after 6 May 2009.***

For further details please contact Tamsin Mitchell at the Writers in Prison Committee London Office: International PEN, Brownlow House, 50-51 High Holborn, London WC1V 6ER Tel: +44 (0) 207 405 0338 Fax +44 (0) 207 405 0339 email:


PEN World Voices Festival of International Literature

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PEN World Voices Festival of International Literature

April 27–May 3, 2009

160 writers from 40 countries gather for 60 events in New York City.

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A stellar line-up of writers from around the globe considers how the world changes and how we change. Don't miss this exciting cross-cultural literary exchange, featuring conversations, performances, readings, film screenings, and a cabaret night.

Festival Highlights

An Afternoon with International Graphic Novelists
Three back-to-back sessions with some of the world's most innovative and cutting-edge graphic novelists, including Neil Gaiman, Yoshihiro Tatsumi, Adrian Tomine, Shaun Tan, David Polonsky, and Emmanuel Guibert. Special offer: attend all three events for $25. >> More

Jazz: The Revolution of Beat
Legendary jazz critic Gary Giddins joins forces with American poets Bill Zavatsky and Jayne Cortez, as well as the Diane Moser Quintet, to explore the birth and life of jazz and how it relates to the written word. Moderated by composer Carman Moore. >> More

Enrique Vila-Matas & Paul Auster in Conversation
For years Enrique Vila-Matas and Paul Auster have been engaged in an extended literary correspondence spanning several continents and languages. Come eavesdrop on their conversation led by Eduardo Lago. >> More

Mark Z. Danielewski and Rick Moody in Conversation
Mark Z. Danielewski—the author of the cult novel House of Leaves as well as Only Revolutions, one of the great American road novels—makes a rare appearance in this conversation with fellow author Rick Moody. >> More

Don't miss the festival's headlining night, with internationally acclaimed writers Muriel Barbery, Nicole Brossard, Narcís Comadira, Jose Dalisay, Edwidge Danticat, Péter Nádas, Sergio Ramírez, Salman Rushdie, and Raja Shehadeh. >> More



Laurie Anderson
Paul Auster
Muriel Barbery
Nicole Brossard
Mark Z. Danielewski
Edwidge Danticat
Richard Ford
Neil Gaiman
Philip Gourevitch
David Grossman
A.M. Homes
Paul Krugman
Nam Le
Walter Mosley
Péter Nádas
Michael Ondaatje
Richard North Patterson
Francine Prose
Lou Reed
Salman Rushdie
Nawal El Saadawi
Hwang Sok-yong
Antonio Tabucchi
Colm Tóibín
Adrian Tomine

>> And many more

PEN American Center

Grievance against All India PEN Center

Grievance against All India PEN Center
West Bengal PEN chapter of All India PEN center expresses it's grievance against All India PEN center, Mumbai, and this grievance had been brought to the attention of International PEN, secretariat, London on last 11 february 2009.But there is nobody to answer till today.
Our grievances:
We can trace back the legal participation of West Bengal PEN Unit as active and participated in the International PEN congress Buenos Aires , Argentina 1936, since then many personalities were active and worked for all India PEN center of International PEN.

But somehow for last two decades, All India PEN center is avoiding west Bengal chapter mysteriously . India is big country, from All India PEN center, Mumbai to Kolkata , West Bengal is about 2000 KM distance, it is not possible to keep contact traveling physically, The center do not answer postal letters or emails.
We understand the evil design of suppressing a community of writers are also in International PEN and other centers, otherwise we do not see any reason to avoid West Bengal, not only all India PEN center but it reflects also on International PEN, London.We doubt such ill intention is dangerous for writers community all world wide.
We wrote a mail begging an advice on 11 feb 2009 to International PEN that what we should do please direct us, but it seemed they are discouraging us from joining .
West Bengal PEN has more than 100 members, 60 life members, and every Wednesday in the afternoon a regular meeting on literature.
We demand an independent center of International PEN in West Bengal. And a recgnition with full support

We are waiting to hear from any PEN center and International PEN.

This is posted by Albert Ashok on behalf of PEN West Bengal, kolkata

The following document we sent to All India PEN center and to International pen on last 11 Feb 2009 we have no response



International PEN

Frank Geary
International Programmes Director
International PEN
Brownlow House
50 / 51 High Holborn
Tel: +44 207 4050338
Fax: +44 207 4050339

Dear Frank Geary and all,

Thank you for your reply on behalf of ‘International PEN’ , International PEN
Brownlow House, 50 / 51 High Holborn, LONDON WC1V 6ER.

From our Part, West Bengal chapter of All India PEN Centre, first we express our solidarity with international community of writers that is International PEN, London. Our due respect to everybody hold position in International PEN, and Indian Pen Center( we are sending same copy to Indian PEN center also)

You told us to liaise All India PEN Centre, Mumbai, which is about 2000 KM away from kolkata, and I am not sure how many members are actively working there and who are responsible for disconnecting the link with west Bengal Chapter, and what is their motive/ plan to avoid writers in P E N in west Bengal chapter which started in early stage of all Indian PEN in 1933. It’s a record.

You can not deny the history and involvement of West Bengal PEN chapter. Now, I can give you the proof in electronic medium that Mr. Ranjit Hoskote, the secretary of All India PEN Centre , is acting somewhat strangely, all he is doing is avoiding us, You ask him why? I understand error is human nature, but planned error is gross offence. I do not know How the International PEN looks into such matters.

We have been writing to Mumbai for last decades but they never cared for us. And we are really very much offended and frustrated . I myself have taken the initiatives to connect All India PEN Centre and bridge between west and east, what is the result you will find in this mail. And you insist to liaise with All India PEN Centre, do you think Mr. Ranjit Hoskote will answer! 15 mails I sent to Ranjit Hoskote and 3 mails sent to Sampurna Chatterjee. I donot know who she is in PEN except as a member, still I wrote her if there is any communication we can build up. Most mails were cc to Caroline M. the executive director of International PEN.

We are eager to know What International PEN thinks about West Bengal chapter which has more than 200 writers officially and their future as PEN member. The reply is very much Important to us. We see Mumbai, All India PEN Centre has violated the PEN charter ( last paragraph) already. Our humble request is please, do not put Mumbai and Kolkata in any embarrassment and enmity. Mumbai Pen center , Mr. Ranjit Hoskote already told us to create our own independent Pen Center, We also want West Bengal as independent PEN center and a member center of International PEN center.

We do not know whom to ask/ address, how to ask and what is the procedure, so, anybody in International PEN help us sooth our wound. It is quite a humiliation to us , you push to all India PEN center and All India PEN Center is denying its liability. What is it ? Is it the community that defends Freedom of Expression and a solidarity with world writers? we are not beggars that we want money, we are writers and cherish a solidarity with writers association which we think is in International PEN. We pray international PEN will understand our problem, the underlying frustration, and the frustration other writers group or individuals are undergoing in other countries.

In the beginning, in thirties, when Mrs. Sophy Wadia started All India Pen Center, West Bengal was a Chapter, we had communications, we had journals, it was nice. And this communication ( through postal document) lasted till Nissim EZikiel The famous poet was general secretary. I do not know when exactly Mumbai, All India PEN Center had stopped the communication with West Bengal. I don’t blame any body in Indian PEN center in Mumbai. Blaming is not our purpose our demand is our status in International PEN, We are not new, a long regular organized body and actively promoting literature in the state and neighbouring states and following ideal of International pen.

Now , its going to be decades that we have no communications, till it is 17 july 2007 when Caroline McCormick, Executive Director International PEN, forwarded my mail to Ranjit Hoskote, he replied.

(We understand, everyone who run voluntary organizations have their own families and other responsibilities, sometime they can not communicate due to such pressure. West Bengal chapter had sent many postal document since Nineties, but we did not hear one response from it. As a main center Mumbai , all India PEN Center , never followed its responsibilities, and it has been reflected when Ranjit Hoskote , secretary , All India Pen Center replied my mail in july 2007. )

Ranjit Hoskote feigned he was completely unaware of West Bengal Chapter. Read below Ranjit Wrote me on 17 July 2007:

Dear Albert Ashok,

Caroline McCormick of International PEN has forwarded us your recent emails -- we would be happy to initiate a dialogue with you on the subject of membership of the PEN All-India Centre (I will add your email address to our e-mailing list in any case, to keep you updated on our events: we hold an average of two readings/ lectures/ discussions a month; sometimes three or even four).

Please write to me with the following details about your group, and we can take the dialogue forward:

1. When was your group founded?
2. How many members do you have?
3. What is the periodicity of your meetings?
4. Do you already have an administrative structure; or
have you preserved a refreshing informality?
5. Do you have a journal, or any other publication?
6. We would be very interested in the profile of your
members -- are they young writers, published authors,
literary activists?

Details of this nature would help us enormously to
help you.

With best regards,
Ranjit Hoskote

Then he admits our existence in his second mail:

Thursday, 19 July, 2007 9:16 PM

Dear Albert,

I am very glad that you have established a line of communication with us. I have to say that -- to the best of my knowledge; it is possible that some papers are missing -- we have not found any previous communication from you.

And tell me, have you had no contact, in all these years, with the West Bengal Branch of the PEN All-India Centre? Our President, Annada Sankar Ray, used to preside over its periodic meetings; but he passed away some years ago, at a very advanced age, and we have subsequently had no communication from the West Bengal Branch either.

Do write again with more details, and let us take this forward. And please convey my warm personal regards to Sunil-da.

With very best wishes,

His mail encouraged us , we thought a long and suspended frustration had got an end. But soon we have understood that we should have an independent center, we should not oil them anymore. Mumbai center do not like west Bengal chapter , They will be neglecting us and we shall be complaining against it -- its an embarrassing situation. I sent Ranjit 15 mails since then , he wrote me only 4 mails, two mail are above and two mails below as it is.

He expressed what suited him.

Dear Albert Ashok,
Thank you for your email and for the link to your post. Since you have copied your mail to a wide array of recipients, I have addressed this response to them as well -- and apologise to those on the list who might quite justifiably regard this exchange as unsolicited mail.

We at the PEN All-India Centre, located in Bombay, have recently begun to sort through our large collection of files -- including records, correspondence, and PEN All-India Centre annual conference proceedings -- which date back to the early 1930s. An American researcher, who is working towards a PhD in the area of late-colonial Indian history, has offered us invaluable support in this endeavour. She regards our material as vital and even impressive: an opinion that vindicates the constancy with which we have held on to our files through the vagaries of shifting, lack of financial support, and other difficulties.

With some luck, time and support, we should soon be able to organise them into a proper and coherent archive -- this would go a long way towards addressing the lacunae that you have indicated in your post.

While many of the details that you have put together in your post are common knowledge to PEN members in Bombay, Lucknow, Chennai and elsewhere, I can well imagine how you must feel to be so cut away from this lineage in the West Bengal Branch. I also sympathise with the fact that you have suffered because of a problem of transmission between generations, and perhaps you were not as fortunate as us in Bombay, who have had the privilege of inheriting a clear succession from Madame Sophia Wadia through Nissim Ezekiel and Ramesh Sirkar.

At the same time, I would most collegially request you to avoid a persistent solipsism in your account of your situation -- in your post, and on previous occasions, you have resorted to the suggestion that, since you did not hear from the PEN All-India Centre in Bombay for many years, it is somehow defunct or non-existent. Unfortunately for your line of argument, the PEN All-India Centre is not only alive and well, but has been flourishing. It has rebuilt a network of contacts, exchanges and discussions across India, while also opening up a range of conversations with colleagues and institutions internationally. Given the difficulties that we faced in the late 1990s and the early years of the 21st century, this has been a demanding and onerous, but ultimately productive task.

Since this matter has arisen before, let me re-state my position on it clearly: If you wish to establish your own separate PEN Centre in West Bengal, please do so by all means, and good luck to you.

However, I will add a note of caution that I have refrained from sounding before, despite your repeated provocations: Please establish your Centre on your own merit, and not by trying to discredit the activities of a flourishing literary community in another part of the country, and of individuals who put in an enormous amount of work on a completely voluntary basis to sustain it.

With very best wishes,
Ranjit Hoskote

The PEN All-India Centre

Dear Colleagues,

A brief post-script to my previous email; and once again, my apologies to those on this list who might regard exchanges on this topic as intrusions into their e-space.

This is just to set the record straight, since I am offended by Albert Ashok's claim (one he has made before) that the PEN All-India Centre did not respond to his letters and emails, until one was forwarded to us by International PEN.

I have just gone back over my correspondence, and find the very first reference to Albert Ashok in an email from Caroline McCormick, dated 1 July 2007 and forwarding an email written to her by him (in which, of course, he claims to have written to us over a ten-year period with no response). Since this was the first time we were hearing of him and his group, we were naturally interested to know more, and wrote to him at once.

With best wishes,
Ranjit Hoskote

About 2000 KM from Mumbai to Kolkata. It is quite impossible for members to keep in touch with centers. And If anyone wants to avoid the call of members residing faraway then what the members would do? Have international PEN ever looked into such problems?

How many PEN organization in UK? How many in Canada? How many in USA? How many in China? India is big country. 28 states. And number of population is next to china. Take an Indian Map and see where Mumbai is! It is not in the middle of India, it is western part of India.

West Bengal Chapter is very much active in literature and promoting literature to young generation. We have about sixty senior life members, and over hundred young writers and weekly meetings.

Please read carefully , and help us stand on our own legs — an Independent Center of International PEN.

With best wishes

Albert Ashok

Kolkata, West Bengal, India.

Following links supports original facts of west Bengal chapter of Indian PEN center.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

History of PEN in bengali for Bengali People

The current issue of 'Darshak' fortnightly journal

Due to communication and ignorance we
(west Bengal) published an incorrect information
in an article written by Adhir Ghatak in Darshak
vol. 45 -aug sep 2004,and Pratidin).
Now once again the same journal publishes
The correct History of International Pen and
All India PEN, written by Albert Ashok Those are
interested to read the history of
International PEN and Indian PEN in English
can click the link below 

History of PEN in bengali for Bengali People

(Click every fragments of bengali writing image to enlarge . 13 fragments as image have been posted for bengali speaking readers)














Support International PEN and all its centers

Matters posted by Albert Ashok