Press release for event in Portland, Oregon, December 10th, 2008

Portland writer Martha Gies and students from her human rights workshop will discuss the plight of international writers who face political persecution around the world at Marylhurst University’s Shoen Library at 7:30 p.m. on Wednesday, December 10, International Human Rights Day. This event is free and open to the public.

Gies points out that Human Rights Day this year falls on the 60th anniversary of the signing of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. “Attendees will have an opportunity to learn about the ongoing efforts of human rights organizations to assist writers who face political persecution around the world,” Gies says. “And they’ll hear about the role of writing in other cultures, where writers sometimes pay a huge price for their vocation.”

Students will present the four cases they have worked on for the last three months.

In China, award-winning freelance writer Nurmuhemmet Yasin, known for his short stories, essays and poetry, was arrested by authorities who consider one of his short stories to be a criticism of their government’s presence in the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region. After a closed trial in February of 2005, at which he was denied a lawyer, Yasin was sentenced to 10 years in prison. He is serving this sentence at Urumqi No. 1 Prison, where he is denied all visitors, including his wife and two young sons. (PEN American Center case)

In the United States, Leonard Peltier, a writer and indigenous rights activist, participated in the American Indian Movement back in the seventies. This led to his involvement with the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota, where a tragic shoot-out occurred in 1975. Wrongfully convicted of murder, Peltier has been serving time in federal prison since 1977. (Amnesty International case)

In Mexico, Alfredo Jinénez Mota was a crime reporter who, at age 26, disappeared while publishing articles on local drug traffickers for the Hermosillo daily El Imparcial in the Northwestern state of Sonora. Jiménez has not been seen since April 2, 2005, and is presumed dead. (PEN Center USA case)

In the United States, Yassin Aref, a Kurdish poet who was the victim of a sting operation in Albany, New York, a case that has been the subject of a PBS special and has also raised questions in the New York Times. (Muslim Solidarity Committee case)

Marylhurst University, located one mile south of Lake Oswego on Highway 43, offers professional certificates, graduate and undergraduate degrees including English Literature & Writing with concentrations in rhetoric and teaching, creative writing and literature.

Marylhurst University
17600 Pacific Highway (Hwy 43) / PO Box 261 / Marylhurst, OR 97036-0261
Phone: 503.636.8141 / Toll-free: 800.634.9982 / Fax: 503.636.9526