Dear President Yanukovich,
I am writing to you on behalf of the tens of thousands of members of PEN International, the worldwide organisation of writers. We are deeply concerned about the escalating unrest in the Ukraine, and in particular about any negative impacts on the freedom of expression of Ukraine citizens demonstrating in Kiev and elsewhere.
We are greatly perturbed by news of attacks on journalists and other individuals on the streets, on the premises of The Writers Union in Kiev and by reports of persecution of student protestors in universities.
PEN calls for a real dialogue between protesters and authorities and full respect of human rights by all parties.
Peaceful exercising of the basic right to freedom of expression is the foundation of democratic society and should be respected by everyone.
Use of force or violence by the police against peaceful demonstrators and journalists is unacceptable. Authorities have a responsibility to guarantee that journalists are able to cover the situation in Ukraine.
We also call upon the authorities to make possible an independent inquiry on the dispersal of protests and on all the acts of violence in order to bring those responsible for attacks to justice.
John Ralston Saul