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On Day of Imprisoned Writer, PEN calls for urgent protection of writers and journalists

People take part in a rally calling for the release of Oleg Sentsov and other Ukrainian political prisoners in Russia, in front of the Russian Embassy in Kiev, 14 June 2018
People take part in a rally calling for the release of Oleg Sentsov and other Ukrainian political prisoners in Russia, in front of the Russian Embassy in Kiev, 14 June 2018


This statement was originally published on on 15 November 2018.

On 15 of November, the Day of the Imprisoned Writer PEN International is calling for urgent international action to protect writers and journalists across the globe, who increasingly find themselves targeted - and in some cases murdered - for their peaceful free expression work.

"Authoritarian governments are becoming increasingly emboldened and are targeting writers and journalists in ever greater numbers. Some are paying a heavy price for merely carrying out their work. PEN's annual Day of the Imprisoned Writer invites supporters of free expression across the world to stand in solidarity with our courageous colleagues and to send a message: they will not be silenced, their readers will not be silenced, we will not be silenced, this bond of writers and readers won't be silenced," said Salil Tripathi, Chair of PEN International's Writers in Prison Committee.

Each year, PEN highlights the cases of five persecuted writers, be they imprisoned, facing prosecution or otherwise at risk - that are emblematic of the type of threats and attacks faced by writers and journalists around the world. This year, we have also included a case of a murdered journalist, Miroslava Breach Velducea from Mexico, in recognition of the increasingly extreme violations taking place. On this day, our Centres and members worldwide stand in solidarity with their colleagues and call on those responsible to end their persecution.

This year, PEN is highlighting the cases of:

Dawit Isaak - The award-winning Eritrean-Swedish writer and journalist, who has been imprisoned incommunicado in Eritrea for over 17 years. Take action for Dawit Issak

Miroslava Breach Velducea - The veteran journalist who was killed in Mexico in 2017. Take action for Breach Velducea

Oleg Sentsov - Ukrainian writer and filmmaker, currently serving a 20-year prison sentence in Russia. Take action for Sentsov

Shahidul Alam – Award-winning photographer, writer and activist arrested at his home in Dhaka, Bangladesh and held in pre-trial detention since August 2018. Take action for Shahidul Alam

Wael Abbas – Prominent writer and activist who has been held in pre-trial detention in Egypt since May 2018. Take action for Abbas


In 2017, the PEN International global community campaigned on the cases of Cesario Alejandro and Félix Padilla Figueroa facing ongoing prosecution in Honduras; blogger Nguyen Ngoc Nhu Quynh who was serving a 10-year prison sentence in Viet Nam; award-winning cartoonist and activist Ramón Esono Ebalé who was detained in Equatorial Guinea; human rights defender, blogger, and lawyer Razan Zaitouneh disappeared in Syria; poet and artist Zehra Doğan imprisoned in Turkey and the Palestinian poet, Dareen Tatour.

Since then Dareen Tatour, Nguyen Ngoc Nhu Quynh and Ramón Esono Ebalé have all been released from prison; we thank all those who have campaigned with us on these cases.

Arundhati Roy writes to Shahidul Alam

Tom Stoppard writes to Oleg Sentsov

David Lagercrantz writes to Dawit Isaak

Khaled Hosseini writes to Wael Abbas

Jennifer Clement writes to Miroslava Breach Velducea

Salil Tripathi writes to Shahidul Alam

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