Mohammad Sediq Kaboudvand, Iran

Der Österreichische PEN Club freut sich mit dem kurdischen Journalisten Muhammad Seddigh Kaboudvand über dessen Freilassung am 12. Mai 2017 nach einer zehnjährigen Haftstrafe im Evin Gefängnis (Iran). Er war Herausgeber der verbotenen wöchentlichen Zeitung Payam-e mardom-e Kurdistan und Vorsitzender der kurdischen Menschenrechtsorganisation RMMK mit Sitz in Teheran. Muhammad Seddigh Kaboudvand dokumentierte und publizierte Berichte zu Menschenrechts-verletzungen in kurdischen Regionen des Iran, Sein Mut für die Menschenrechte einzutreten, führte 2007 zu seiner Inhaftierung. Das WiP-Committe und der Österreichische PEN Club nehmen die Nachricht seiner Freilassung 2017 mit großer Erleichterung entgegen. 

Allah Abd El Fattah, Ägypten

We call for release of Alaa Ab El-Fattah! The prominent Egyptian dissident Alaa Ab El-Fattah has been arrested – only six months after his release from prison.

Alaa Abdel Fattah was freed in March after serving a five-year sentence for organising a protest without permission. He was a leading campaigner during the 2011 uprising against former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak. Under his probation conditions, the activist was required to spend nights in a police cell for five years. On Sunday, as Mr Abdel Fattah was preparing to leave the police station, he was rearrested by Egyptian authorities, his family say. BBC News , 29 September 2019

Mahvash Sabet, Iran

mahvash-sabetMahvash Sa ̄ bet gehört zu den sieben Mitgliedern des Bahái-Führungsgremiums im Iran, die zu jeweils 20 Jahren Haft verurteilt wurden. Die Religionsgemeinschaft der Bahái wird im Iran systematisch verfolgt. Am 5. März 2008 wurde Mahvash Sabet in Mashhad, im Nordosten Irans, wegen »Spionage für Israel«, »Propaganda gegen das System« und »Blasphemie« verurteilt. Dieses Urteil wurde von verschiedenen Menschenrechts-organisationen und dem Europäischen Parlament scharf kritisiert. Mahvash Sa ̄ bet befindet sich momentan im berüchtigten Evin-Gefängnis in Teheran. Sie leidet an Osteoporose und brach sich im Herbst 2012 die Hüfte. Trotzdem wurde ihr ein Hafturlaub zur medizinischen Behandlung verweigert. 

Miriam Haghos, Eritrea 

Aged in her 50s with one daughter, Miriam was brought up by Eritrean parents in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. In the early 1970s, with a degree in commerce, she moved to the USA and was active in an EPLF-affiliated student association. She joined the EPLF in 1977 and worked in the information department in EPLF-held territory. Miriam was detained three times by the EPLF during the liberation struggle on account of her opinions. After independence in 1991 she worked in different government departments, and was Director of Cinemas at the time of her arrest. She was detained on 6 October 2001, apparently on suspicion of connections with the detained dissidents. She has kidney and eye problems.

frauensolidarität – Nr. 137, 3/16
Die vergessenen Heldinnen von Eritrea
Interview mit der Journalistin Amal Ali
von Ishraga Mustafa Hamid

Oleg Sentsov, Ukraine (in Arbeit)

oleg-sensovBest known for his 2011 film Gamer, Sentsov lived in Crimea’s capital of Simferopol and was active in protests against then-President of Ukraine Viktor F. Yanukovych, who led a pro-Kremlin government before he was removed from office in February 2014. As Russia became increasingly involved in Crimea in 2014, Sentsov became an outspoken critic of Putin’s creeping hand into Ukraine.
He delivered food to Ukrainian soldiers blockaded in bases by Russian military.

After the annexation of the peninsula, on May 11, 2014, Russia’s Federal Security Service detained Sentsov in Crimea; he resurfaced a few days later in custody in Moscow. Sentsov was charged along with a co-defendant, ecologist Aleksandr Kolchenko, on suspicion of terrorism. During a trial hearing on August 25, 2015, Sentsov said he was tortured in an unsuccessful attempt to extract a confession. He had visible bruises on his body.

Sentsov was found guilty of creating a terrorist group, carrying out two terrorist acts, and plotting the explosion of a statue of Lenin in Simferopol. He was also accused of founding a Crimean branch of a banned Ukrainian nationalist group called Right Sector, which the group, as well as Sentsov, refutes. The key eyewitness against him, Gena Afanasev, retracted his original testimony saying it was coerced through torture. Despite an international outcry, Sentsov was sentenced to 20 years in prison. Many international governments—including that of the United States—believe that he has been convicted on groundless charges in retaliation for his anti-Kremlin views.

A year after his conviction, Sentsov smuggled a letter out of prison in September 2016, stating with certainty, “I know who will win. The desire for freedom and progress is unstoppable.” The end of the letter reads:

“There is no need to pull us out of here at all costs. This wouldn’t bring victory any closer. Yet using us as a weapon against the enemy will. You must know: we are not your weak point. If we’re supposed to become the nails in the coffin of a tyrant, I’d like to become one of those nails. Just know that this particular one will not bend.”

The next month, Sentsov was moved to a solitary punishment cell for 15 days. The Belarus Free Theatre has collaborated with Maria Alyhokhina of Pussy Riot to create a play, Burning Doors, based on the incarcerations of Alyokhina, artist/activist Petr Pavlensky, and Sentsov to raise awareness about the prison system in Russia.

Putin has rejected calls for Sentsov’s release, maintaining that he was not convicted for his art or opinions, but because he had “dedicated his life to terrorist activities.

Oleg Sentsov, a Ukrainian film director, was detained in Crimea in May 2014 and sentenced to 20 years in a Russian prison on charges of terrorism on August 25, 2015. PEN believes that the charges stem from Sentsov’s political activities, likely his outspoken criticism of Russia’s annexation of Crimea, and has expressed concern about shortcomings in the judicial process that led to his sentencing. Appeals against the original verdict were rejected by the Russian Supreme Court in November 2015 and June 2016. A request for Sentsov’s extradition to Ukraine was denied in October 2016 on the grounds that he had become a Russian citizen upon the annexation.

Liu Xiabo, VR China (in Arbeit)

Since China hosted the 2008 Beijing Olympics—games it had secured by pledging to the world to expand protections for the human rights of its citizens—the Chinese government has carried out successive crackdowns on its citizens’ right to freedom of expression, beginning with Liu Xiaobo’s detention on 8 December 2008. Liu was arrested for his role in publishing Charter 08, a document calling for political reform that he and 302 co-signers planned to release two days later, on International Human Rights Day. The document quickly garnered widespread support, and now has over 10,000 signatories from throughout China, many of whom have suffered reprisals.

When the Nobel announcement was made in mid-October 2010, restrictions were tightened further. Liu’s wife Liu Xia, a poet and photographer, was placed under strict house arrest at her home in Beijing, where she remains detained incommunicado and is denied any contact with the outside world. At the December 2010 Nobel Peace Prize award ceremony in Oslo, Liu Xiaobo’s medal and diploma were presented to an empty chair.

In February 2011, another wave of repression swept the country, targeting dissent thought to have been inspired by the revolutions in the Middle East. Police stepped up their harassment of human rights defenders and activists across the country in response to anonymous calls for ‘Jasmine Revolution’ protests. Many were briefly detained, harassed, summoned or place under house arrest, and a number of prominent PEN members in China were amongst those targeted. The level of surveillance many still face remains stifling.

For the past four years since Liu’s arrest PEN International has been involved in a sustained and ongoing campaign for his release and to promote the right to free expression in China. PEN stands firm in its resolve to secure the release of Liu Xiaobo and all writers who remain behind bars or silenced in China today, in flagrant violation of its own laws and the international treaties which it has ratified.