Norwegian PEN’s work for persecuted speakers

Over the last ten years we have seen a global development where free speakers have become increasingly exposed to persecution, harassment, prosecution and, in extreme cases, killing.

Today’s reality is dramatic and support and assistance to journalists, writers, bloggers, publishers, etc. has in recent years received more and more attention in PEN International’s work, as it has also received by Nowegian PEN. This important international work, which was initially limited to assisting authors, today covers all the freedom of speech representatives – editors, publishers, translators, dramatists, journalists, cartoonists and bloggers. The major debate in the international freedom-free environment today points to the need to include other artist groups such as musicians, visual artists and actors, in all freedom of expression work.

Norwegian PEN is also responsible for coordinating the professional follow-up of the Norwegian free cities for persecuted writers, journalists and artists.

Writers in prison committee protests against abuses, harassment, imprisonment, and, in the worst cases, killings, authors and other free speakers. The committee organizes annual literary programs with country themes, which present writers in exile, and focuses on literature, culture and freedom of speech in the country in question. The members of the committee are representatives of the The Norwegian Authors’ Union, Norwegian Association of Literary Translators, Norwegian Writers for Children, and Norwegian Non-Fiction Writers’ and Translators’ Association. It is a good and important cooperation.

Responsibility and freedom of expression i Norway

Norwegian PEN is active in key national issues of freedom of expression and therefore we established the project “Responsibility and freedom of expression in Norway” in 2015. The project is financed through support from Fritt Ord Foundation, Eckbos legat and Bergesen Foundation. The overall objective of the project is to focus on matters in our own country where freedom of expression is under pressure or is directly threatened. Read more here.

Norwegian PEN’s international work

Afghanistan Norwegian PEN has secured operational funds for the Authors’ House in Kabul with assets since 2004. The Authors’ House in Kabul is run by Afghan PEN. Norwegian PEN is a support center and sister organization for Afghan PEN, which celebrated its ten-year anniversary with a major event in May 2013. Since the establishment of the center, Norwegian PEN has organized regular delegation trips, the last one having taken place in May 2016.

Turkey  Norwegian PEN has had a strong commitment in Turkey for decades. In cooperation with international and Norwegian allies, actions and measures are planned, focused on the rapidly evolving development of freedom of expression and free speakers in Turkey. The Board of Norwegian PEN has established its own Turkey group, which plans to further the follow-up of the directed to Turkey, as well as help the board to get more detailed knowledge regarding the situation in Turkey and Norwegian PEN’s work.

Eritrea Norwegian PEN is the support center for PEN Eritrea and contributed to the establishment of its center in exile at the PEN Congress in 2014, following the initiative of the Eritrean resident writer Dessale B. Abraham.

Iran Norwegian PEN follows the development in Iran through delegation trips and debates.

Membership recruitment

During a period of just over five years from the beginning of 2012, Norwegian PEN’s number of members increased from 382 to well over 900 members. We need, however, to further increase this number so that we can maintain our high activity and great impact. The board of Norwegian PEN has set the strategic goal of having 1000 members by the end of 2017. You can find more information on membership here.