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The Death of Tkachenko and International PEN updates

category international | rights, freedoms and repression | other press author Saturday December 22, 2007 11:03author by C Murray Report this post to the editors

What is happening in relation to Linguistic rights and Access to Education.

The area of linguistic rights and access to education from grassroot mobile library services
through to prisoner's rights has always been a concern of the International Pen Union.
Often the media, expecially in Ireland, would tend to ignore many of the press releases
which along with Reporter's Sans Frontieres, IFEX, and other NGO groups have consistently
attempted to highlight the dangers to the lives of writers in War regions and to those who
advocate basic human rights to dignity and right of access to education.
Alexander  Tkachenko RIP
Alexander Tkachenko RIP

The illustration is of Alexander Tkachenko who died recently in Russia, he was Secretary General
of Russian Pen and had a lifetime commitment to education in Poetry and literature, as well
as working on the Pasko case. Amnesty Intl. called Pasko the 'Third Prisoner of Conscience'
since Sakharov and Nitkitin:-

Tkachenako had been given permissions by the military court to participate in the defence
of Pasko, who subsequently got a four year prison term and labelled a traitor.

Info on Tkachenko;-

Some of the areas where PEN, RSF and Amnesty cross and coincide are in the areas of rights
and dissemination of information to increase inter-cultural understanding and access to education
of all. This starts at school access and moves on up towards mobile library access, to
ensuring translation services are writer-led to defending the rights of people to freedom of expression
within their culture. The areas that PEN focussed on in 2006 were; Iran,Gambia, Burma, Uzbekistan.

The Norwegian Ossietzky prize was awarded to the dissident Radio Station: The Democratic Voice
of Burma- info on Burma and access to this info can be got through Amarc/ASEAN/ISIS women.

There are many projects and committees at work globally .

Translation and Linguistic Rights Committee
Writer's For Peace Committee.
Women's Writer's Committee
Writers In prison's Committee.

Each of these has issued a report on 2007 and developments in the areas they represent.

International programmes re access to education and increasiong reading;-

Malawian PEN.
Ugandan PEN
Zambian PEN

International programmes re : Community Access and Library Projects:-

Guinean PEN
Somali Speaking PEN.

Finally This year saw some remarkable developments and work across cultures that
united activists from Mexico to Palestine and NYC:-
and IFEX/AMARC will add in link later.

and from Manila to Iran and into the European Feminist Forum, where issues of migrancy
gender equality and war became part of the agenda through consistent campaign using
community access tools such as IMC/CIM and Community Radio.

Changes to the equality agenda have included highlighting the problems within the EU in relation
to sustainability in African nations and in agigtating for proper representation of women's
community and political voices. This has happened at UN by consistent campaign to ensure
that Gender equality and rights to access for women show themselves through measurable
change and not lip-service by National Governments. The work of some Irish Groups in this
area will become more evident quite soon .

Hearing in the Pacific Fleet Court, Vladivostock.
Hearing in the Pacific Fleet Court, Vladivostock.

author by C Murraypublication date Sat Dec 22, 2007 11:34author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Info on Tkachenko's work in the Pasko case is at

the insertion of* was accidental, but we don't self-edit on this
site (thats a facility wherein a writer can go and make ssimple changes to text when they absolutely
coc-up big-time).

The links to ASEAN/AMARC and the one million signature campaign are generally
on the Movement's Within links and the resources Links;-

There was a really glaring spelling mistake in relation to literacy and libraries also.
if any otherlinks don't work- apologies- uploading photos mean that ye cannot correct
before publication .

*did not write that either..

author by C Murraypublication date Sun Dec 23, 2007 19:30author address author phone Report this post to the editors

There is an interesting report on the state of international translation :-

The topic did not get the attention it deserved on the PI website when a discussion took
place about how writers deal with the issue of collaborative translation; and translation that
occurs online to fulfill a need to have access to artistic materials online-at the cost of
eviscerating the intent of the poet (in this case).

[The two versions of the one poem :- 'I Carried Statues ' by Agnes Nemes Nagy, who wrote in
Magyar are in the second comment on the PI thread, and illustrate quite clearly how
an approach to translation is susceptible to failure if not tackled by a talented translator].

will add in link to review of book on the O' Driscoll thread.

Related Link:
author by C Murraypublication date Sun Jan 06, 2008 12:47author address author phone Report this post to the editors

I have discussed on two threads how the UK Government in the form of Tony Blair and the
Polish Government had agigtated for the removal of Article 3.3 from the Nice Treaty to facilitate
the drafting of the Lisbon Treaty. The article is now attached as Protocol, this is accessible
through the Government Sponsored Forum on Europe website.

In relation to this the British org of PEN International has accused the HMG of being
in breach of article 10 of the ECHR in relation to legislation on blasphemy.

Lisa Appignanesi writing in Yesterday's Guardian discusses HMG's approach to rights
of Religious association and expression of critique under the aegis of her new
presidency of Pen, while also providing a brief history of creative expression in the
foundation of PEN international.


'If there is a God, he certainly doesn't need the protection of the British Legal System.
If there isn't, he doesn't need it either. There is therefore no excuse for preserving
the offence of blasphemous libel and it should be abolished'.

Appignanesi treats of the work of the Christian Union in attempting through the
Law courts to prevent a screening of Jerry Springer, the Opera (!), the Barbican's
censorship of passages from 'Tamburlaine' and Tate Britain's decision not to
exhibit John Latham's 'God is Great, no2' with it's encased Talmud, Koran and Bible'.

These are recent cases wherin the wisdom of men who do not seek to offend
have decided to reduce freedom of religious expression and association to
workable pragmatic ideology- we live in plural societies and Appignaesi states that
it is time Britain endorsed a fully secular public sphere, because it is the
only kind that serve diverse population;-
'The Blasphemy law has no place in a plural society, where it acts to divide people
of different faiths and none"

the full text of the argument is in the arts review section of the Guardian.
(05/01/08) [The Poet V The British Establishment] [Book Burning]

Book Burning at the Opernplatz 1933
Book Burning at the Opernplatz 1933

Arthur Koestler, sentenced to death by the falangists during the Spanish Civil War.
Arthur Koestler, sentenced to death by the falangists during the Spanish Civil War.

author by Scepticpublication date Sun Jan 06, 2008 22:01author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Most people would understand the difference between laws designed to prevent offensiveness against religion and the nazi book burnings – the analogy is something of a false one. Besides books are not banned in the UK even for reasons of blasphemy whether it is Christianity or Islam that is blasphemed. The UK is one of the most free countries in the world in this regard. Censorship is most prevalent in Islamic and communist States with death and long terms of imprisonment for offenders being common. Incidentally it is surprising to see Arthur Koestler championed on this thread – he is very much out of favour in feminist and liberal circles since being exposed as a serial rapist. There is an account of this in the Morgan biography of Michael Foot. Foot’s own wife was herself a victim of Koestler.

Related Link:
author by C Murraypublication date Mon Jan 07, 2008 11:26author address author phone Report this post to the editors

I should think that Koestler was possibly not a serial rapist when the falangists sentenced him to

As to the efficacy of judging what is and what is not literature, one look at the education policy
of our sacred government would point out that those who value a Cecilia Ahern above a
Mark Haddon would indicate a lack of ability to discern how art makes one think even if
the author (such as Koestler) was criminal or flawed (another current preoccupation).

The people who decide to excise Tamburlaine (sections of) or to remove art from
exhibit cos it may cause offence to those who imagine that they interpret Art for us,
because we are not capable of responding to art (being gullible children an' all)- are not
exactly very culturally devloped- though they seem to be 'politically' developed?

I admire Mailer (even wrote an obit too), despite his violence, I admire Genet,
Collette- I do not seek to judge the personality of the artist but the work they created
that has its place in the canons of our literature or visual art- there ye go, a weird, short feminist
analysis of a culture of mystifying censorship by those who would think they are holier than thou
rather than attempt to look at how fucked up everything really is- there is an argument for
secularisation of the public sphere- I imagine everyone would be happier.

[especially those who would criticise Harry Potter books- I mean wtf is that?]

author by Carlopublication date Mon Jan 07, 2008 23:43author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Interesting expression that "total secularisation of the public sphere". I wonder what we're getting into if artists and writers can lose all inhibition and produce anything. [I know, "hate speech" against ethnics, the Jews and gays will be banned.]

Where will western society be when any newspaper editor feels free to publish crude cartoons that mock Jesus, Mohammed, the Hindu deities, the reclining Buddah... or when every other art gallery lets go and hangs up a framed oil painting called "Piss Christ" [been done at MoMA in NYC already] or "The Buddah reclining in the grass with Krishna", or... You get it? Who will pay for the massive police protection subsequently needed for offending editors and gallery directors?

Artists and writers may have total freedom to provoke the spiritual beliefs of the wider public. Maybe, but what's so special about artists and writers? Do they know more than the rest of us? Name a few living Irish artists and writers who have profounder insights than the rest of us hibernian mortals! Just because they have a way with words, or are highly skilled at jibbing blobs of oil onto canvas, doesn't mean we have to treat them as gurus. Their opinions on politics, sex, religion and the weather are as prone to speculation and error as anybody else's.

There are other concepts like decency and decorum. There is reticence and humility. There is sensitivity towards the feelings of others. There are unwritten rules of society. Such conventions evolve in the course of the rise of civilisations. They make human societies more noble than herds of wild animals.

author by C Murraypublication date Tue Jan 08, 2008 09:38author address author phone Report this post to the editors

I would imagine that the artist's first responsibility is to their 'muse' or in Lorca's case, his 'duende'.

Now thats a relationship that may be understood by the proponents of religiousity, that would not
necessarily have the expertise in artistic interpretation?

Did the young falangist who accompanied Federico Garcia Lorca into a field where he shot him
in the head and 'in the arse for good measure' do it cos he was told that the man who wrote the
most tremendous poetry was a homosexual? or was it because he wrote Gypsy Ballads- was
he brought up with books, with knowledge of language and music?

I would imagine that those who inculcate hatred of difference in people play on their fear;
and on garnering illiteracy through censorship and ignorance.

And what of the book-burners and repressers in this first world state who rejected what Joyce gifted us?

author by Carlopublication date Tue Jan 08, 2008 14:58author address author phone Report this post to the editors

I hold no brief for whoever murdered Lorca during the Spanish civil war.

There are various ideas and images of the artist, whether it is a painter, sculptor, composer of music, a poet or a prose writer. Your assertion "I would imagine that the artist's first responsibility is to their 'muse' or in Lorca's case, his 'duende' '"
represents the romantic image and role of the artist i.e. the person apart from [bourgeois] society who mystically tries to bring that society to epiphany by various means of introspection and "interrogation", this latter a current buzz word in the visual arts world.

There have been other concepts and images of the artist throughout European history. Some have been married with children and mortgaged homes; others have been anarchist bohemians dreaming and chainsmoking in unheated attics. Their creations can be judged according to the aesthetic traditions of art, literature and music, not according to whether their lives are conventional or radically unconventional. As artists their responsibilities are to the accumulated traditions of their chosen art. As citizens they might surely have responsibilities towards the rest of the citizenry.

author by pat cpublication date Tue Jan 08, 2008 15:31author address author phone Report this post to the editors

But what is meant by responibility? That art should be banned if a majority of the people dont like/understand? That an artist should not offend peoples superstitions? By whose standards is Art to be judged? Someonme who "knows the 10 commandments" or the Muslim/Sikh/Hindu etc equivalent?

Should "The Life of Brian" be banned? (Imho it is Art.)

Take a look at these pics below.

Should Last Supper: Picking The Bones be banned because it upsets a few people that dont realise they're supposed to be eating JCs body when they take communion?

How about: Mao as Christ? Hes certainly responsible for a lot less deaths than Christianity.

Or a Stalinist Superman. That would upset a lot of comic fans. How about that?

Last Supper: Picking The Bones.
Last Supper: Picking The Bones.

Mao Messiah
Mao Messiah

Stalinist Superman
Stalinist Superman

author by C Murraypublication date Tue Jan 08, 2008 18:41author address author phone Report this post to the editors

'I hold no brief for whoever murdered Lorca during the Spanish Civil War'

What on earth does that mean???

The artist's responsibility is to the art and not to the uptight moralist views of someone who is
not visually educated- the good thing is that anyone can be visually educated by art, or
aurally through music, it may necessitate dropping predijuice.

Chagall was 'degenerate', Crevel was rejected by socialists, Grosz and Dix were
destroyed by those who thought that everyone should accept the Nationalistic fervours
of the Third Reich and Bush is currently torturing not alone artists, writers and Librarians
but anyone whom does not buy the whole religious expedience of his war -thrust.

(contemporary poetic interpretation of Greek tragedy- and a curse:-)

"In a cavern Lycurgus for his sin was imprisoned.
In such wit did his madness bear a bitter fruit,
which withered in a dungeon. So he learned it was a god
he had ventured in his blindness to revile and taunt.

The sacred dances he had tried
to quell, and end the Bachic rite,
offending all the tuneful muses'.* (Sophocle's 'The Antigone'.)

Of course it can be translated into the Irish realm if ye wish, the
poetry of a Sands, A Pearse or in Basque Gabriel Aresti....

The Image is of a performance of Greek Tragedy from the Didaskalia Site, the words can be
got from 'Theatre Works' by Tony Harrison, published by Bloodaxe.

Marcus Aurelis- from the Didaskalia Site
Marcus Aurelis- from the Didaskalia Site

author by Carlopublication date Tue Jan 08, 2008 22:37author address author phone Report this post to the editors

I don't adhere to an aesthetic that holds the more outrageous the better. I didn't talk about banning art or writings either. I said freedom of artistic expression is one value in a society, but that there are other values which make human civilisation better than wild animals, viz: "There are other concepts like decency and decorum. There is reticence and humility. There is sensitivity towards the feelings of others. There are unwritten rules of society."

The artist as citizen can take these human values on board since s/he has been raised in the civilisation that nurtured them. Artists as citizens have the cop-on to realise what impact their creations can have on mass emotions, whether tutored or untutored. Their artistic skills and vocations don't release them from common sense.

If artists (painters, sculptors, composers and writers) presume to have a right to outrage the values of the majority populace around them, they may be surprised (and outraged) to find that members of this populace exercise a reciprocal right to outrage the aesthetic and social values of artists.

I wonder what the visual art community (who they?) in New York City would have thought of posters being put up on lamp posts around MoMA showing the face of the creator of "Piss Christ" preserved in a container of urine? Or what if a small group of men had stood silently in a line before the offending painting and urinated on the floor, calling the action an example of installation art? Artists sometimes like to create "artistic provocations", but they should beware of a time to come when "counter provocation" might become all the rage. Freedom of expression cuts both ways.

author by C Murraypublication date Wed Jan 09, 2008 11:40author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Art is about 'form', its about dialogue and its about maturity.
Some of the stuff brought up in the last comment discussed in the above links.

Last entry on this thread:-

This poem was commissioned in 1991 , its called 'A Cold Coming' by Tony Harrison.
He wrote it at the outset of the First Gulf War, and whilst Bush tries to salvage Republican
election hopes in Israel today, it seems fitting.

'I read the news of three wise men who left their sperm in
Three foes of ours, three wise marines with sample flasks
and magazines,

Three wise soldiers from Seattle who banked their sperm
before the battle.
Did No1 say: 'God be thanked I've got my precious Semen

And No2: O Praise the lord my last best shot is safely
And No3: Praise be to god I left my wife my frozen wad?

So if their fate was to be gassed at least they thought their
name would last,
and though cold corpses in Kuwait they could by proxy
(or just google 'A Cold Coming')

The Poet is interviewing an Iraqi male whose been atomised by US foreign policy..

author by Carlopublication date Wed Jan 09, 2008 11:50author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Piss Art might be included in your etcetra.

Will click later on the links and read what they discuss.

author by C Murraypublication date Thu Jan 10, 2008 12:38author address author phone Report this post to the editors

One of the issues raised in comments above and on another thread pertains to Societal nurturing of
the artist and 'citizen' responsibility- (in the images included within the comments on blasphemy
and censorship, there is an image of young people bringing their books to burn at the Opernplatz
in 1933- these books were burned because they were 'UnGerman'): they did not represent
what the State saw as the role of Germany in Modernist society- anything that was not categorically
useable for visual propagandist purposes was 'degenerate'.

(Though much of it turned up for sale in auction houses in Europe and America in the post WW2

The Arts Act 2003, coming under the FF/PD Government had sought to
tie the work of an independent body such as the Art's Council closely to Government
ideas of what constitutes Irish Art and therefore gets the funding. it is only the second
time that this has occurred in the State's History , the first being at the inception of the State,
when overt control of Visual and literary expression was seemingly of Fundamental Importance
to the De Valera administration.

I would imagine that of all things 'Nationalising' artistic expression has shown itself to be a
failure in both visual propagandist and artistic terms.

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