Svenska Fredsvänner i Helsingfors invites you to a common evening with Writers for Peace, Finland at Fredshemmet, Dagmarsgatan 13 B 7 on Wednesday, nov. 20 at 6 p.m.
Faruk Abu-Chakra will speak about the situation in Syria and Elisabeth Nordgren, chairperson of Writers for Peace, Finland, will give an introducton about the committee and its activities.
The languages will be Swedish and English.
You are cordially welcome!
Dear President Obama,
We are writing to you as free speech and media freedom organisations from around the world to express our strong concern over the response of the US government to the actions of whistleblower Edward Snowden. We urge you to take immediate action to protect whistleblowers and journalists.
Edward Snowden’s recent disclosures have triggered a necessary and long-delayed public debate about the acceptable boundaries of surveillance in a democratic country, a debate that on 5 June you welcomed having. The revelations brought into question the legitimacy of the secretive process of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court and closed Congressional intelligence committees as appropriate forums to determine the fundamental human rights of Americans and persons worldwide. The disclosures have clearly served the public interest, including by prompting similar debates in countries around the world.
We are, therefore, dismayed that criminal charges have been filed against Snowden, including those under the vague and overbroad Espionage Act of 1917. Statements by the State Department that Snowden is not a whistleblower simply because of the nature of the charges against him flatly contradict international standards on freedom of expression and information. Attempts to obstruct Snowden’s freedom of movement, his right to seek asylum, including the revocation of his passport, and other forms of retaliation also violate US obligations under international law.
Moreover, we are concerned that the charges against Snowden are not an isolated incident, and that there have been an unprecedented number of prosecutions against whistleblowers during your administration, as well as intrusive investigations to identify the sources of journalists reporting on matters that are in the public interest. This tendency of the US government towards obsessively controlling information flows and an aversion to public discourse is both undemocratic and unsustainable in the digital era.
Taken together, we find that these actions have set a dangerous precedent for the protection of whistleblowers and journalists worldwide. As you are aware, whistleblowers often face criminal charges when they reveal information that causes acute embarrassment to governments, to distract from the wrongdoing revealed. Similarly, journalists are also attacked for publishing the disclosed information. We are seriously concerned that governments will rely on the US example to justify attacks on whistleblowers and journalists who put themselves at significant risk to expose or report government wrongdoing, corruption, or other dangers to society.
The US has a long history of recognising the important role whistleblowers play in democracy, going back to Abraham Lincoln’s 1863 Law, the False Claims Act. While the Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act of 2012 built upon these protections, they specifically exclude protections for public interest disclosures of national security or intelligence information. While the recent Presidential Policy Directive/PPD-19 on “Protecting Whistleblowers with Access to Classified Information” and Attorney General Eric Holder’s guidance on protecting reporters’ privilege are both positive, as policy they are not binding law and provide no legal protection or remedy for whistleblowers or journalists seeking to defend information disclosures. Greater legal protections in this area are therefore needed.
We call on your administration to take the following actions:
Drop the charges with prejudice against Edward Snowden
Immediately reinstate Edward Snowden’s passport and cease attempts to obstruct his right to seek asylum in any country of his choice
Initiate an executive public consultation on the activities of the National Security Agency
Instruct the Justice Department to declassify and make public all orders issued under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, upon their completion
Commit to seeking the adoption through Congress of an extension of the Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act and the reform of the Espionage Act to ensure there are appropriate and legally binding protections for whistleblowers disclosing national security and intelligence information
Continue to support the adoption by Congress of a strong and robust “media shield law” with narrow exemptions for national security information.
The Belorusian authorities announced today that Vladimir Neklyaev (Ulazimir Njakljajeu) is free. He was arrested and put in jail in December 2010, at the time of the presidential elections. Neklyaev (Njalkjajeu) was a presidential candidate, but more importantly, since 1970′s he has been a well-known poet, writer and journalist in Belarusia and abroad.
When arrested in 2010 Neklyaev (Njalkjajeu) was battered causing serious spinal injuries. Neither under home curfew nor in jail has he been able to get proper medical care.
Neklyaev (Njalkjajeu) is an Honorary Member of Finnish PEN. He lived in Helsinki in 2000–2004 under Writer in Exile program of Finnish PEN.
Both Neklyaev’s daughter Eva Neklyaeva and Finnish PEN are very pleased with the outcome! Ms Neklyaeva lives in Helsinki and works as a theatrical producer organising Baltic Circle Theater Festival. In 2013 she received Freedom of Expression Award of the Finnish PEN.
Finnish PEN is looking forward to meeting it’s ex- Writer in Exile soon!
For more information, please contact
Chair of the Finnish PEN Center
The recipient of the 2013 Finnish PEN Freedom of Expression Award is Eva Neklyaeva, the festival director of the Baltic Circle theatre festival and human rights activist.
Neklyaeva has for a long time campaigned to improve human rights in Belarus. Her father, poet and former president of Belarusian PEN Uladzimir Nyaklyayew (Vladimir Neklyaev) was assaulted in December 2010 during a peaceful protest and imprisoned. Vladimir Neklyaev is still under house arrest. The harassment of human rights activists is a daily occurrence in Belarus. Activists are arrested, beaten and convicted by summary trials. Organisations and journalists critical of the authoritarian president Aleksandr Lukashenko’s regime are hounded constantly.
Eva Neklyaeva has called for the cancellation of the 2014 World Ice Hockey Championships scheduled to be held in Belarus.
In addition to her work for human rights, Eva Neklyaeva is a highly accomplished in the field of theatre.
She is the festival director of the international Baltic Circle theatre festival, which has garnered awards and wide renown. Since 2000, the Helsinki-based festival has introduced the latest developments in contemporary theatre to the audience. The Baltic Circle festival is also a meeting ground for professionals and their audience. The festival organises seminars and education and takes an active part in the discussion on art and its role in the society.
Baltic Circle strives to raise issues, engage in discussion with the audience and find new perspectives. As Eva Neklyaeva puts it, ”Politics is black and white, but art can show things as complicated as they really are.”
As the Finnish PEN Freedom of Expression award, Eva Neklyaeva receives the painting Icon of the Flower Forest donated by the author and painter Rosa Liksom.
Finnish PEN is an international association of writers promoting freedom of expression founded in 1928. It is part of PEN International and according to its charter aims to defend and promote literature and freedom of expression everywhere in the world.
Jarkko Tontti, President, Finnish PEN
tel. +358 41 5242871