In some countries, people aren’t allowed to say anything bad about their government. They don’t have “freedom of expression.”
Some writers who have spoken out against their governments have been put in jail by those governments.
Fortunately, there’s a group called PEN International, which defends freedom of expression. PEN International fights for the rights of writers around the world.
Last week, PEN International went to Turkey. The group was led by Canadian author John Ralson Saul, the president of PEN International.
They met with Turkish President Abdullah Gül to show their concern for writers and journalists in Turkish prisons.
PEN asked the Turkish government to consider shortening jail time for prisoners before their trials. This period can often last for years. Another problem is that prisoners aren’t able to see their lawyers quickly. According to one report in The Toronto Star, one man has been kept from talking to his lawyer for over a year.
Journalist Claude Adams says that people should support organizations like PEN and Amnesty International, because they fight for people’s freedom of expression. Adams is a former conflict journalist (in other words he reported from war zones); he’s now a producer at Global TV.
“These groups are very important to making people aware of the problems of writers and journalists who are attacked, jailed or watched. If the government knows it is being watched (by a group like PEN), it might be more careful about how it treats writers and journalists.”
Right now in Turkey, there are almost 700 prisoners on hunger strikes to protest their treatment and length of stay. Organizations like PEN are helping those prisoners by raising awareness of their situation and supporting their human rights.
By Kathleen Tilly
Why do you think some governments don’t allow “freedom of expression”? How do you think this restriction would impact the role of journalists and writers in a society?
Do you think you have “freedom of expression”? Why or why not?
Reading Prompt: Variety of Texts
The map in this article is called a topographical map. What do you think this means?
How is reading a topographical map different than reading a road map?
How is reading a map different than reading an article?
Junior and Intermediate
Read a variety of texts from diverse cultures, including literary texts, graphic texts and informational texts (OME, Reading: 1.1).
Grammar Feature: Contractions
A contraction is created when two words are joined together and shortened. An apostrophe stands in the place of one or more letters in a contraction.
Read through the article and identify all of the contractions. What do each of them mean?