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International Support for PEN’s Freedom to Write Campaign Protest At Murder of Maltese Journalist

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Article by Vanessa Fox O'Loughlin © 16 April 2018 .
Posted in the Magazine ( · News for Writers · The Big Idea ).

The following letter was published simultaneously in newspapers across the world on Monday 16th April 2018,  six months after the murder of Maltese journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia. This action was co-ordinated by International PEN, an organisation that celebrates literature and defends freedom of expression globally.

As part of their Freedom to Write Campaign, Irish PEN and WORD were in full support of this initiative and gathered the Irish signatories detailed below. The letter appeared in The Irish Independent.

16 April 2018

The Shame of Valletta 2018, European Capital of Culture

 

Dear President Juncker,

Dear Commissioner Timmermans,

Dear Mr Magnier, Director of Creative Europe,

CC/ Commissioner Vella,

We write to you on the six-month anniversary of the brutal assassination of our colleague, Daphne Caruana Galizia, Malta’s foremost investigative journalist, to express our profound concern with developments in Malta in the context of the investigation into her assassination, and in particular regarding the behaviour of the management of Valletta 2018, the European Capital of Culture.

The assassination of Daphne Caruana Galizia was ordered in direct response to her journalistic work in exposing rampant government corruption at the heart of the EU. Since her death, we have witnessed with horror the repeated and aggressive destruction of the memorial to Daphne Caruana Galizia in Valletta, which was created in response to this horrific event. The Maltese authorities have not attempted to protect this memorial. In particular, we are outraged by the comments of Jason Micallef, Chairman of the Valletta 2018 Foundation, and as such the Capital of Culture’s official representative in Malta. Since her assassination, Micallef has repeatedly and publicly attacked and ridiculed Daphne Caruana Galizia on social media, ordered the removal of banners calling for justice for her death and called for her temporary memorial to be cleared. This is far from appropriate behaviour for an official designated to represent the European Capital of Culture, and in fact serves to further the interests of those trying to prevent an effective and impartial investigation into Caruana Galizia’s death.

Creative Europe’s mandate is the support and promotion of culture and media in the region. European  culture includes the freedom to criticise, satirise and investigate those in power. The role of the Chairman of the European Capital of Culture should be to safeguard this right, not to threaten it. We believe this behaviour completely demeans the role and has profound implications for the integrity of the programme as a whole. There can be no tolerance for the ridiculing of the assassination of a journalist in the heart of the EU, especially from the very authorities entrusted to promote the EU’s media and culture. We therefore urge you to immediately investigate these allegations against Jason Micallef. If found to be true, we urge you to call for his resignation and for the appointment of a qualified individual who demonstrates the requisite integrity for this role.

Further to these specific concerns relating to Valletta 2018, we wish to restate our broader fears relating to the ongoing investigation by the Maltese Authorities into the assassination of Daphne Caruana Galizia, which we believe does not meet the standards of independence, impartiality and effectiveness required under international human rights law. The very same individuals Caruana Galizia was investigating remain in charge of securing justice in her case, despite a judicial challenge in Malta’s constitutional court from her family, who has now been completely shut out of the assassination investigation. We therefore welcome the initiative of the Parliamentary Assembly of Council of Europe, which is taking the extraordinary step of sending a special rapporteur to scrutinise the investigation.

It is also of enormous concern to us that, even after her assassination, senior government officials, including the Prime Minister, Joseph Muscat, are insisting on trying thirty-four libel cases against her, which have now been assumed by her family. In addition to these cases, the Prime Minister is taking a further libel case against Caruana Galizia’s son, Matthew, himself a Pulitzer-Prize-winning journalist. We have reason to believe that these proceedings are in direct reprisal for his mother’s work in investigating corruption within the current Maltese government. The Prime Minister is currently compelling Matthew to return to Malta to stand trial, despite independent security experts advising Matthew to remain outside Malta due to substantial threats to his life there.

Whistle-blower Maria Efimovawho was one of Daphne Caruana Galizia’s sources on corruption within the disgraced Malta-based Pilatus Bank is facing extradition to Malta from Greece after a European arrest warrant was issued. We believe the charges against Efimova to be purely political and are deeply concerned about both her safety and the independence of the legal process she would face should she be deported to Malta.

We urge you to take a stand in support of calls for justice for Daphne Caruana Galizia and for the protection of journalists in Malta.

We look forward to your response outlining the steps you will now take relating to our concerns.

Sincerely,

Jennifer Clement, President, PEN International

Per Wästburg, PEN President Emeritus, Chair of the Nobel Prize for Literature

(and representatives of PEN centres in more than 30 countries, see below)

 

IRISH SIGNATORIES:

Fr Tony Gaughan, Irish PEN President,

Vanessa Fox O’Loughlin, Irish PEN Chair,

Frank Geary, Irish PEN, Freedom to Write Campaign, Ireland

June Considine, Irish PEN, WORD & Freedom to Write Campaign, Ireland

Lia Mills, Irish PEN, WORD & Freedom to Write Campaign, Ireland

Valerie Bistany, Director, Irish Writers Centre

Liz McManus, Chair, Irish Writers Centre Board

Mary O’Donnell, Irish PEN

Marita Conlon McKenna, Irish PEN

Jennifer Barrett, Ireland

Dermot Bolger, Ireland

Evelyn Conlon, Ireland

Mary Costello, Ireland

Darren Darker, Irish PEN

Celia De Fréine, WORD, Ireland

Anne Devlin, PEN International UK/Ireland

Martina Devlin, WORD, Ireland

Katie Donovan, WORD, Ireland

Theo Dorgan, Ireland

Catherine Dunne, WORD, Ireland

Kate Ennals, Word, Ireland

Anne Enright, Republic of Ireland

Mia Gallagher, WORD, Ireland

Frank Geary, Irish PEN

Carlo Gebler, Northern Ireland

Caroline Graham, WORD, Ireland

Padraig Hanratty, Irish PEN Membership Secretary

Sean Hardie, Ireland

Jack Harte, Ireland

Claire Kilroy, Ireland

Colum McCann, Ireland

Paula McGrath, Ireland

Frank McGuinness, Ireland

Henrietta McKervey, Ireland

Maria MacManus, Ireland

Declan Meade, Ireland

Paula Meehan, Ireland

Paul Muldoon, PEN America

E.R.Murray, Ireland

Éilís Ní Dhuibhne, Irish PEN, WORD and Freedom to Write Campaign, Ireland

Kerrie O’Brien, Ireland

Joseph O’Connor, Ireland

Louise Phillips, WORD, Ireland

DBC Pierre, UK/Ireland

Martin Roper, Republic of Ireland

Tom Sigafoos, WORD, Ireland

Grainne Tobin, Ireland

William Wall, Ireland

 

INTERNATIONAL SIGNATORIES:

Jennifer Clement, President, PEN International

Per Wästburg, PEN President Emeritus, Chair of the Nobel Prize for Literature

Homero Aridjis, PEN President Emeritus, Former Ambassador of Mexico to UNESCO

Georges Emmanuel Clancier, PEN International Vice-Président Emeritus

Eugene SchoulginPEN International Vice-President, PEN Norway

Regula Venske, Regula Venske, President PEN Germany, Member of the Board PEN

International

Burhan Sönmez, PEN Turkey, Member of the Board PEN International

Salil Tripathi, Chair, Writers in Prison Committee, PEN International

Eric Lax, PEN International

Emmanuel Pierrat, Président, French PEN

Elisabeth Åsbrink, President, Swedish PEN

Erik Vlaminck, President, PEN Belgium / Dutch speaking

Fr Tony Gaughan, Irish PEN President

Maureen Freely, Chair of Trustees, English PEN

Per Øhrgaard, President, Danish PEN

Venla Hiidensalo, President, Finnish PEN

Vonne van der Meer, President, PEN Netherlands

Mathias Ospelt, President, PEN Liechtenstein

Antonio Della Rocca, Presidente del PEN Trieste, Member of the Board of PEN International

Elena Chizhova, Director, Saint-Petersburg PEN

Dina Meza, President, PEN Honduras

Jorge Ragal, Presidente PEN Chile

Ciro Añez, President PEN Santa Cruz-Bolivia

Judyth Hill, President, San Miguel PEN Center

José A. Albertini y Luis de la Paz, Presidente, El PEN-Club de Escritores Cubanos en el Exilio

Hanan Awwad, President, Palestine PEN

Folu Agoi, President, PEN Nigeria

Dr Frankie Asare-Donkoh, President, Ghanaian PEN, Secretary-General, PEN Africa Network

Lisa Appignanesi, former President, English PEN

Anders Jerichow, former president, Danish PEN

Sylvestre Clancier, Président d’honneur du PEN français, ancien membre du Comité Exécutif du PEN International

Émile Martel, former President, Centre Québécois du P.E.N. International

Dr. Sascha Feuchert, Vice-President and Writers-in-Prison/Writers-at-Risk-Commissioner, PEN Germany

Andréas Becker, Président du Comité des Écrivains Persécutés, PEN-Club Français

Patrick Tudoret, writer and scholar, vice president French Pen

Isabelle Rossaert, Vice-President, PEN Belgium/Flanders

Markéta Hejkalová, Vice President of Czech PEN

Fiona Graham, Vice-President, Scottish PEN

Connie Bork, Vice-President, Danish PEN

Biyú Suárez C.,  Vice President PEN Santa Cruz- Bolivia

Prof. Dr. Carlos Collado Seidel, Secretary General, German PEN

Daniel Batliner, Secretary-General P.E.N. Liechtenstein

Burkhard P. Bierschenck, Secretary of PEN Centre of German speaking writers Abroad

Mille Rode, General Secretary, Danish PEN

Khadija Ismayilova, UNESCO/Guillermo Cano World Press Freedom Prize (2016), (Azerbaijan) Honorary Member, Norwegian PEN

Ahmet Şık, UNESCO/Guillermo Cano World Press Freedom Prize (2014) (Turkey)

Ian McEwan, UK

Yann Martel, Canada

Nayantara Sahgal, India

Elif Shafak, English PEN (Turkey)

Caroline Criado Perez (Brazil/UK)

Can Dündar, Former Editor-in-chief, Cumhuriyet (Turkey)

Yann Martel, Canada

Nayantara Sahgal, India

Chloe Aridjis, UK/Mexico

Horácio Costa, Brazil

Lucina Kathmann, PEN International Vice-President Emerita

Christine McKenzie, PEN Melbourne, Australia

Herbert Wiesner, German PEN

Ursula Krechel, German PEN

Tereza Semotamová, Czech PEN

Elsa Cross

Helen Caldwell, New Zealand

Tanja Kinkel, German PEN

Nadezda Azhgikhina, Free Word Association Board Member, Russia

Nik Williams, Project Manager, Scottish PEN

David Manderson, Trustee, Scottish PEN

Laura Waddell, Trustee, Scottish PEN

Mario Relich, Secretary, Scottish PEN

Jenni Calder, Membership Secretary, Scottish PEN

Bashabi Fraser, Trustee, Scottish PEN

Lady Joyce Caplan, Trustee, Scottish PEN

Summer Lopez, Senior Director of Free Expression Programs, PEN America

Félix Villeneuve, Writers in Prison Coordinator, Quebec PEN

Lesley Marshall, New Zealand PEN coordinator

Jens Lohmann, Danish PEN

Marianne Østergaard, Danish PEN,

Uffe Gardel, Danish PEN

Nguyên Hoàng Bao Viêt , Délégué, Comité des Ecrivains et Ecrivaines en prison, Centre PEN Suisse Romand

Gustavo Bracamonte PEN-Guatemala

Emi Kasamatsu PEN Paraguay

Armida Zepeda, PEN San Miguel de Allende-México

Sigrid Bousset, PEN Belgium/ Dutch speaking

Jan Fabre, Antwerp

Stefan Hertmans, Brussels

Lieve Joris, Amsterdam
Koen Peeters, Belgium

Tom Lanoye, Belgium

Marc Reugebrink, Belgium

Bart Moeyaert, Belgium

Alicja Gescinska, Belgium

Nick Mulgrew, Head of Communications, PEN South Africa

Margie Orford, President Emerita of PEN South Africa, PEN International Board Member

Nicky Falkof, PEN South Africa

Romy Sommer, PEN South Africa

Yewande Omotoso, Executive Vice President, PEN South Africa

Jen Thorpe, PEN South Africa

Jacques Rousseau, PEN South Africa

Ingrid de Kok, PEN South Africa

Marcus Low, PEN South Africa

Justin Fox, PEN South Africa

Mike Nicol, PEN, South Africa

Bruce Cooper, PEN, South Africa

Alexander Matthews, PEN South Africa

Kristien Hemmerechts, Belgium

Nina George, German PEN

Arthur Goldstuck, PEN South Africa

Manu Herbstein, PEN South Africa

Carme Arenas, President of PEN Català

Raffaella Salierno, Secretary General of PEN Català

Gemma Rodríguez, Treasurer of PEN Català

Erwin Mortier, Belgium

If you are interested in getting involved with the Irish PEN/WORD initiative to support International PENs Freedom to Write Campaign,  launched by President Higgins at Áras an Uachtaráin on 27th March 2018, contact vanessa@writing.ie

Freedom of expression and solidarity among writers are at the heart of PEN. PEN started in the aftermath of World War One bringing writers together to express solidarity within and between recently warring nations. PEN quickly expressed this same solidarity by campaigning for freedom of expression for all writers and for individual writers who were silenced, harassed, imprisoned and murdered because they had the courage to write.

As a group Irish PEN and WORD are planning to take one action for each season during the coming year. These will be linked to other events such as the Nollaig na MBan in January, the PEN Dinner Empty Chair, the Day of the Imprisoned Writer in November and PEN International global actions. We will follow up with actions and updates on cases, but for this quarter we are focussing on, in particular Zehra Dogan and Raif Badawi in addition to the assassination of Daphne Caruana Galizia.


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