Anar Niftaliyev

The Azerbaijani writer Anar Niftaliyev is a "wanted person".

In 2006, his novel
One Lifetime Struggle, which included the author's thoughts regarding former president Heydar Aliyev, was published.

The National Academy of Science Folklore appealed to the courts with a lawsuit claiming the book was defamatory. Niftaliyev says that they objected to the book on the grounds that it had "cast a shadow on H. Aliyev's personality".

In March 2008, the Sabayil District Court issued a decision calling for all copies of the book to be destroyed. When the police searched Niftaliyev's legal residence, they didn't find any copies of the book--nor did they find Niftaliyev.

Niftaliyev plans to appeal to Azerbaijan’s Supreme Court and the European Court of Human Rights regarding his case.

Cherish your freedom of speech and speak for those who are persecuted and silenced.

For more information see here.

Saw Wei (update 11/17)


A January 2008 issue of the magazine Love Journal featured a poem by the well-known Burmese poet Saw Wei. This "love poem" was also an acrostic poem, in which the first letter of each line are combined to spell a word or phrase. In this case, loosely translated: General Than Shwe is power-crazed. Saw Wei has been in prison for his criticism of the head of Burma's ruling junta since January and on November 10th, a two-year sentence was handed down.

For more information see here. In regard to formal protests see here (US) and here.
(Please note that Int. PEN recommends that protest NOT be sent directly to Burma, as it may prove counter affective).

‘February 14th’ by Saw Wei

Arensberg said:
Only once you have experienced deep pain
And madness
And like an adolescent
Thought the blurred photo of a model
Great art
Can you call it heartbreak.
Millions of people
Who know how to love
Please clap your gilded hands
And laugh out loud.

Trans. Anon
Code: the first syllables say Ar (Arensberg), Na (pain), Yu (mad), Gyi (great), Hmu (Blurred), Gyi (age/big), Than (million), Shwe (gilded)
Which spells
Ar-na-yu-gyi Hmu-gyi Than Shwe - Power-crazed Senior General Than Shwe(author retains copyright)

Harry Nicolaides


The Australian writer Harry Nicolaides has been sentenced by a Thai court to three years in prison for "lèse-majesté" (insulting the monarchy) in his 2005 novel Verisimilitude.

The original sentence of six years was reduced due to his confession.

According to International PEN's Writers in Prison Committee, "Harry Nicolaides, aged 41, was arrested at the Bangkok airport when he was about to board his plane to Australia on 31 August 2008. The sentenced is related to a passage in Nicolaides’ novel Verisimilitude which is considered to be insulting to the Thai king’s eldest son. It is said that in the 300-page book, only three lines refer to the crown prince, and that he is not even mentioned by name. "

For more information, see the wdpress Political Writings on Thailand

Magomed Yevloyev

3 September 2008

RAN 42/08

RUSSIA/INGUSHETIA: Website Owner Shot Dead
International PEN is shocked by the death in police custody on 31 August of website owner Magomed Yevloyev from a gunshot wound to the head. As the owner of a website that has been fiercely critical of the Ingushetian leadership, concerns have been voiced that he may have been assassinated. International PEN is calling for the investigation into the death to take into consideration these fears, for any person found responsible to be brought to justice and that measures are taken to safeguard other journalists who speak out.

Yevloyev, 38, was arrested as he disembarked from an airplane at Manas airport in Ingushetia’s capital, Nazran. He died from a gunshot wound to the head, inflicted as he was being driven in a police van from the airport. Police claim that the death was accidental and that a policeman’s firearm had accidentally fired as Yevloyev had lunged at the officer in an attempt to resist arrest. The Russian prosecutor general’s office has stated that an investigation has been launched.

Yevloyev was the owner of the opposition website, said to be the only media critical of the regional president Murat Zyazikov. Situated in the Russian North Caucasus, Ingushetia shares borders with Chechnya and North Ossetia. There has been growing alarm at the deteriorating situation for human rights and security in the country as heavy handed measures have been taken to tackle outbreaks of violence carried out militant groups seeking to overthrow the Ingushetian government and to oust Russian security and military. is one of the very few, if only, independent media to report on the tensions and is also known as a reliable source of information on issues including corruption, human rights abuses, poverty and unemployment, as well as anti-government protests. The website has suffered several attempts to close it down. Most recently a June 2008 banning order issued for “inciting ethnic hatred” and distributing “extremist” materials was upheld by a district court in Moscow. It is widely believed that the charges are an attempt by the Ingushetian authorities to stifle comment on the growing tensions in Ingushetia. Despite this, the site managed to continue to publish up to Yevloyev’s death.

Yevloyev’s friends and family who had been waiting at the airport to greet him and had witnessed the arrest, report that shortly before the plane had disembarked, he had sent a mobile message to say that President Ziyazikov was also on the same flight. A few days earlier, on 22 August, Yevloyev had posted a statement on his website accusing Zyazikov and the Ingushetian Interior Minister Musa Medov of unleashing “a civil war against the Ingushetian people”, adding that “all attempts undertaken by Zyazkivov and Medov are futile”.

Just a month earlier, in late July 2008, editor in chief, Roza Malsagova, fled into exile in France. She had originally left for Moscow with her family in November 2007 after suffering harassment, threats and ultimately being beaten in front of her children. She also faced criminal prosecution for ‘incitement of ethnic hatred and ‘distribution of extremist materials’. However the threats followed her to Moscow, leading her to continue to fear for her safety and to move once again.

Further information
The killing of Magomed Yevloyev has been widely reported in the international press. The WiPC recommends:

Human Rights Watch Report: “As If They Fell From the Sky” - Counterinsurgency, Rights Violations, and Rampant Impunity in Ingushetia

Committee to Protect Journalists appeal:

Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty backgrounder: ‘Website Owner’s Death Could Prove Point of No Return to Ingushetia’

What you can do:
· Protest to the Russian President and Prosecutor General

· Write to the Russian embassy in your own country

Appeals should:

- Express shock at the killing of Magomed Yevloyev in Ingushetia on 31 August 2008;

- Refer to concerns that Yevloyev may have been killed for his reporting on tensions in the country and for his criticism of the Ingushetian leadership;

- Welcome that an investigation is being carried out into the death and urging that it take into consideration fears that Yevlovyev may have been the victim of an assassination;

- Raise concerns that other independent journalists in Ingushetia have reported threats and harassment and requesting that measures are taken to safeguard other journalists who speak out.


Mr Dmitry Medvedev Mr Chaika Yuri Yakovlevich
President of the Russian Federation Prosecutor General of the Russian Federation
Kremlin Ishaya Dmitrovka, 15a GSP 3
Moscow Moscow 125993
Russia Russia
Fax: +7 095 206 5173 / 230 2408
Email: Fax: +7 095 292 88 48
Please contact the address below for updates if you are considering sending an appeal after 1 October 2008

For further information please contact Sara Whyatt at the Writers in Prison Committee of International PEN, Brownlow House, 50-51 High Holborn, London WC1V 6ER Tel: +44 (02) 20 7405 0338 Fax: +44 (0) 20 74050339 Email:



Lapiro Mbanga (update 11.17)


You can make a difference in someone's life!

Update: (from the International Pen Writers in Prison Committee)

On 24 September, almost six months after his arrest and detention, Mbanga (51) was found guilty of taking part in riots against the high cost of living in Cameroon (see below) in February 2008 and sentenced to three years in prison. The songwriter was convicted of three of the six charges against him: “complicity in looting, destruction of property, arson, obstructing streets, degrading the public or classified property, and forming illegal gatherings”. He was also ordered to pay a fine of 280 CFA francs (US$640,000) payable to the company Société des Plantations de Mbanga (SPM) and the Ministry of Finance as compensation for damage caused during the riots. The charges against Mbanga are widely held to have been made in retaliation for his criticism of the government. The verdict was met with a stunned silence, according to one press report.


The Writers in Prison Committee (WiPC) of International PEN protests the three-year prison sentence and exorbitant fine imposed on the well known singer-songwriter Lapiro de Mbanga (real name Pierre Roger Lambo Sandjo) on 24 September 2008 for allegedly taking part in anti-government riots. Mbanga is known as an outspoken critic of the government, both as a songwriter and an opposition party member. The WiPC fears that the sentence is connected to his critical lyrics and, as such, in violation of his right to freedom of expression. It calls on the Cameroonian authorities to release Mbanga immediately and unconditionally.


Lapiro Mbanga, a singer/songwriter from Cameroon, was arrested in Mbanga City on April 9, 2008. The official charge against him, which wasn’t determined until July, is of instigating mass demonstrations that occurred in February.

However, international organizations believe his arrest is directly related to a song he wrote called “Constipated Constitution”. The song lyrics criticize new constitutional amendments, including one of which grants the president immunity for criminal acts committed while in office.

Over one hundred people were arrested in connection with the February riots have been pardoned. Many people died in the February riots and the testimony of some witnesses indicate that Mbanga attempted to save both lives and property. Mbanga remains in prison awaiting a trial, already adjourned once, scheduled to begin at the end of August**. If found guilty, Mbanga faces up to two years in prison.

According to PEN’s sources, Mbanga is reportedly being kept in unsanitary conditions and denied medical treatment. He has lost over 20 kilos since his arrest and is suffering from a chest infection.

International human rights organizations are calling for the release of Mbanga.

Freedom of expression is a human right—expression through music and lyrics is powerful. Let’s stand behind Mbanga’s right to sing about governmental ailments, intestinal or otherwise.

more information:

BBC News

**update 01.October: Mbanga's trial has been adjourned and he remains in prison. There is no news regard a change in the prison conditions or his health.

Previous Writers are on the old blog.