14 August 2013
Kazakh poet Aron Atabek was placed in solitary detention in December 2012 for writing a book that criticises President Nursultan Nazarbayev’s government. We launched our action last week, and we are pleased to announce that a number of PEN centres from around the world have already begun campaigning on Atabek’s behalf. These include: PEN American Center, PEN Austria, Belgian Dutch-speaking PEN, PEN Canada, English PEN, Finnish PEN, German PEN, PEN Kenya, PEN Netherlands and PEN Suisse Romand. Our campaign is also being promoted by IFEX.
Letter from Atabek’s son Aidar Aidarkhan to PEN members
Dear PEN Members,
I am grateful to everybody for joining us and taking action on my father’s behalf.
PEN’s campaign – writing to protect the life of someone imprisoned somewhere in the Kazakh steppes, writing to express sympathy with his family – has touched all our hearts.
If there were no international community, [I believe] that Atabek might have been killed in jail. That is why it is crucial to continue to write for my father.
We, the family, are connected to Atabek by destiny and blood; we share his ideas and feel imprisoned in our homeland, where the regime can punish citizens for years.
When a member of PEN writes for Atabek, he protects not only the poet, but dozens, hundreds of those in solidarity with Atabek.
Atabek knows the power of the word, both spoken and written. He always says that every dictatorship is afraid of ‘the word’. This is why they suppress freedom of speech in the first place.
The written word is the key.
I am familiar with computer networks, where even the best protected servers can collapse when they receive thousands of requests at the same time. [In the same way,] the minds of those in power can be changed by your actions.
I urge every member of all the PEN centres to join and continue the campaign. I call for your solidarity with the imprisoned poet, Aron Atabek.
Please, keep writing to the authorities and to embassies. Keep writing articles, and letters. Send postcards and pictures to my father in prison.