January 31, 2017 is 64th birthday of poet and dissident Aron Atabek who is serving longtime prison term in Kazakh prison and who faced criminal charges after protesting against mass eviction of inhabitants of settlements nearby the largest city of the former Soviet nation.
The worldwide association of writers, PEN International, has called for jailed poets around the world to be released, including prominent Kazakh poet Aron Atabek.
In a statement on March 21, which is marked as World Poetry Day, the London-based PEN International called on its members, supporters, and poetry centers of the world to send appeals to Kazakh authorities demanding Atabek be freed.
World Poetry Day, marked each year on 21 March, is an opportunity to celebrate poetry, the power and creativity of language and to promote reading, writing, publishing, and teaching poetry throughout the world. PEN International uses this day to highlight the great challenges poets face across the globe simply for their work. Each year PEN focuses its campaigning on behalf of poets who have paid a high price for their poetry and ask Centres, PEN members and supporters to take action on their behalf. This year PEN is campaigning on behalf of:
Award-winning Eritrean poet, critic and editor-in-chief of the leading newspaper ዘመን (Zemen, The Times), Amanuel Asrat, was arrested at his home on the morning of 23 September 2001 amid a crackdown on state and private media. It is believed that he is being held without charge or trial. The limited information available suggests that Asrat is detained in the maximum security prison, Eiraeiro, north of Asmara. PEN International believes that Asrat’s detention is an attempt by the Eritrean government to stifle critical voices, including comment on its conflict with Ethiopia. Take action for Asrat here.
Aron Atabek is a poet, journalist and social activist. He has written several books of poetry and prose inspired by Tengriist spirituality and was the founder, in 1992, of the monthly newspaper Khak (The Truth). Atabek was sentenced to 18 years’ imprisonment in 2007, following his involvement in a 2006 protest against an attempt by Kazakh authorities to flatten a shanty town called Shanyrak to make way for luxury apartments; the protest ended in violent clashes and the death of a police officer. Atabek has been in prison since 2006 and has spent much of his incarceration in solitary confinement. Take action for Atabek here.
Dear Aron Atabek,
Greetings from PEN Myanmar!
PEN Myanmar is one of PEN International’s centers located in Southeast Asia. We focus mainly on Protecting freedom of expression and Promoting new literature, the same activities as the other PEN centers do. PEN Myanmar has over 200 members and lead by 9 members of Director Board. 3 of 9 Directors were once imprisoned writers like you. We learned about you from PEN International website and we published an article mentioned about you in our PEN Myanmar News Letter.
PEN Myanmar would like to express our sympathy and living-kindness regarding your imprisonment. We are very proud of you and greatly impressed on your work. We are sorry to hear that you are weak at health. During these difficult times, please don’t forget that there are friends and colleagues who remember you in their prayers. Wishing you strong and healthy.
for Lesley Marshall
There is an empty chair in New Zealand –
Kept for me on writers’ congress,
That is the God to turn me –
Back to an ‘environment’, to a writer’s place!
Writer is an armchair worm –
Gnawing science tomes,
Only sometimes he affects –
Having published poems and novels.
And Life, seems to be passing by,
Writer – the life’s contemplator,
Yet he is present invisibly,
On the stricken filed with us.
Writer, he is the THRID EYE –
And he sees through distance,
And contemplates the “SHANYRAK” –
And us, the fighters on the stricken field.