#2 2011

Letter from a cell

To Those Who Feed On Anger And Who Have Rendered Us Powerless

The Kurdish author, lawyer and human rights activist Muharrem Erbey was jailed in December 2009 and has since then been hidden and placed in the notorious prison of Diyarbakir. He is among other things accused of having tarnished the Turkish state during a visit to the Swedish Parliament. In this issue we publish a newly written text by him from prison.

Mats Johansson: “Erbey risks becoming a new Dawit Isaak”

One of the charges brought against the Kurdish writer and lawyer Muharrem Erbey, imprisoned without trial since the Christmas of 2009, is that he gave a lecture in the Swedish Parliament where he supposedly “slandered the Turkish state”. One of the

Journalism — a scourge in the lead-up to the elections in Congo-Kinshasa

The pressure on journalists is rising as the elections loom in the Democratic Republic of Congo. After a downward trend, the organisation for freedom of the press Journaliste en danger (JED) has noted a rise in the number of violations of that

The ICORN-RELAY – Philo ikonya

In the last issue of The Dissident Blog we started the “ICORN-relay”, where writers who has received refuge in ICORN cities tell us about their own background and the state of free speech in their home countries. The staff has now passed on to Philo

I will steal into the murderers’ sleep

Samar Yazbek, born 1970, is a Syrian writer and journalist who has criticized the Syrian regime before and during the uprising. This text is part of a series in the form of a diary she wrote during the on-going 

Behind The Rise of the Great Powers

The present copyright holders to Mr Liu Xiaobo's work, Harvard University Press, has not granted us the right to publish his essay Behind The Rise of the Great Powers. Therefore this text is not available in English. Our 

Nights and days

On September 23 ten years had passed since the Swedish journalist Dawit Isaak and his colleagues at the Eritrean newspaper Seitit was imprisoned by the Afwerki regime. Today he is being held at the notorious “death camp”

To Dawit Isaak

Dawit Isaak and his colleagues were imprisoned in Eritrea on September 23, 2001. He’s still being held behind bars because of using his right to express himself. Ida Börjel is one of the most interesting poets in Sweden right now


Dawit Isaak

“Prison literature is a dynamic genre of our time” 

Having for some years been the director of a PEN-centre it is easy to get the impression that all important literature is being written in a prison cell or by a writer in forced exile. This is of course an illusion—literature is being written everywhere. The prison cell is then no exception. But over the years a great many books by writers writing—or attempting to write—in a prison cell have had a great impact on world literature. It ought to be possible to write a literary history of prison writing, and a few of the obvious candidates would be Ovid and Dostoevsky. Prison literature, tragically, is a dynamic genre of our time.

In this second edition of The Dissident Blog prison literature is highly present. The short story writer and human rights lawyer Muharrem Erbey, honorary member of Swedish PEN, has since Christmas 2009 been imprisoned in Turkey without a trial. One of the charges against him is that he held a lecture in the Swedish Parliament where he discussed the current situation of the Kurdish people in Turkey. This is all it takes to be imprisoned indefinitely in Turkey—a country that calls itself a democracy. Erbey has sent us a letter from prison, which we hereby present to an international audience. In addition, a member of the Swedish Parliament, Mats Johansson, who is committed to Erbey’s case, has supplied us with a commentary.