2020 Vietnam: Pham Doan Trang

We urge Vietnamese authorities to immediately drop all charges against author, journalist and activist Pham Doan Trang.
Pham Doan Trang. Screenshot from YouTube video by Villa Aurora Forum and Literaturhaus Berlin.

November 10th 2020

President of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam,
General Secretary of the Communist Party of Vietnam

PEN International and The Norwegian Writers in Prison Committee hereby urge Vietnamese authorities to immediately drop all charges against author, journalist and activist Pham Doan Trang.

Trang’s apartment was raided and Trang was arrested on October 6th 2020, detained without access to her family or legal representation. The arrest took place just hours after the 2020 U.S.-Vietnam Human Rights Dialogue concluded.

Pham Doan Trang has fought to promote human rights and democracy through her writing and social media. After Trang’s arrest in October she was charged under Art. 177 of the Vietnamese Penal Code and accused of “making, storing, spreading information, materials, items for the purpose of opposing the State of Socialist Republic of Vietnam”. Trang, like many before her, has used her platforms and her voice to spread awareness about human rights issues in Vietnam. She is one of several activists who have been detained for this.

PEN International and the Norwegian Writers in Prison Committee strongly urge Vietnamese authorities to:

  • immediately release Pham Doan Trang from detainment
  • drop all charges made against her under the Vietnamese Penal Code
  • provide Trang with immediate and unimpeded access to her family and legal representative; and
  • end crackdown on bloggers, writers and free speech activists in Vietnam

Yours sincerely,

Mari Moen Holsve
Member of Writers in Prison Committee
PEN Norway

2020 Cuba: Roberto de Jesús Quiñones Haces

Den cubanske journalisten, poeten og advokaten Roberto de Jesús Quiñones Haces må løslates fra fengsel, krever Norsk PENs komité for fengslede forfattere.
Roberto de Jesús Quiñones Haces

Sr. Miguel Díaz-Canel
Esquina 6. Plaza de la Revolución
La Habana CP 10400

Dear Mr. President,

The Norwegian Writers in Prison Committee is expressing serious concern for the health of poet, lawyer and independent journalist Roberto de Jesús Quiñones Haces. He was detained and beaten by state agents on April 22nd 2019 while covering a trial for the news website CubaNet. Quiñones Haces was reportedly released five days later and fined for conduct during his detention, which they alleged, constituted ‘disobedience’ and ‘resistance.’

After refusing to pay the fine, Quiñones Haces was sentenced to one year in prison in August 7th 2019. Although he did present evidence in favour of his case and requested a new trial, the Court rejected both the evidence and the request for a new trial and on September 11th 2019, Quiñones was detained.

During his imprisonment, 63 years old Quiñones Haces has developed health problems due to the conditions of detention. He is particularly at risk from Covid-19, and is, according to his family, currently being detained in a small prison cell with at least 17 other prisoners. He has also reported being threatened because of his articles and letters.

We are calling for the immediate and unconditional release of Roberto de Jesús Quiñones Haces.

On behalf of the Norwegian Writers in Prison Committee,

Alexander Leborg
author and translator


2020 Aserbajdsjan: Elchin Mammad

We call on the Azerbaijani authorities to free reporter and lawyer Elchin Mammad.
Elchin Mammad. Photo: Elchin Mammad’s Facebook page.

President of Azerbaijan
Ilham Aliyev

19 Istiqlaliyyat Street
Baku AZ1066

PEN International and The Norwegian Writers in Prison Committee hereby urge Azerbaijani authorities to immediately and unconditionally release reporter and lawyer Elchin Mammad.

Human rights lawyer and journalist Mammad was arrested in his home on March 30th, only days after he published a critical report on the human rights’ situation in Azerbaijan. He was arrested on alleged charges of jewellery theft.

Elchin Mammad has faced harassment and intimidation by the authorities several times in the past. This prosecution fits a pattern of targeting critical voices with politically motivated arrests on spurious charges. We believe that Mammad’s recent arrest and detention is politically motivated. We worry for his situation and his health in regards to imprisonment during the covid-19 outbreak.

We therefore ask that you immediately release Elchin Mammad.

We furthermore call on Azerbaijani authorities to stop the persecution of journalists and human rights defenders, and to immediately release all those held in prison for having exercised their rights to freedom of opinion and expression.

Yours sincerely,

Mari Moen Holsve

Member of Writers in Prison Committee
Norwegian PEN

2020 Myanmar: Saw Wai

We call on Myanmar to drop all charges against the poet and PEN member Saw Wai immediately.
Drop all charges against Saw Wai.

U Win Myint
President of the Republic of the Union of Myanmar
President’s Office
Naypyitaw, Myanmar

Oslo, March 15th, 2020

President U Win Myint,

The Norwegian Writers in Prison Committee is deeply concerned by the ongoing prosecution of poet and PEN member, Saw Wai, who stands accused of defaming the military under Section 505(a) of the Penal Code, after speaking at an event in Kaw Thaung township, in the Tanintharyi region of Southwestern Myanmar. If convicted, he could face up to two years in prison. PEN International believes that Saw Wai is being targeted solely for the peaceful exercise of his right to freedom of expression and calls for the charges against him to be dropped.

I have myself met Saw Wai several times and he is an outstanding poet that Myanmar should be proud of. He has been important for the democratization of Myanmar together with NLD and should not be in prison but honored by the government.

Therefore, we are

  • Calling on the Myanmar authorities to drop the charges laid against Saw Wai immediately and unconditionally;
  • Calling for all laws that impose unlawful restrictions on the right to freedom of expression in Myanmar to be repealed or amended in line with international human rights standards;
  • Urging the immediate ratification of international human rights treaties to which Myanmar is not yet a party, including the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR).

Yours sincerely,

Jørgen Lorentzen
Member of Writers in Prison Committee
PEN Norway


The Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Embassy of Myanmar in Norway

International PEN gratulerer Orhan Pamuk med Nobelprisen i litteratur for 2006

International PEN congratulates Orhan Pamuk on being awarded the Nobel Prize 

International PEN congratulates Orhan Pamuk on being awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature.  Jirí Grušá, President of International PEN said today, ‘we congratulate Orhan Pamuk as an author who combines great writing with courage and humanistic wisdom. To PEN, he represents an opening of global perspectives towards the creation of a peaceful world of creative differences.’

International Secretary, Joanne Leedom-Ackerman welcomed the announcement saying ‘Orhan Pamuk’s rich and textured storytelling bridges worlds and opens doors to literature, history and language that shows civilisation at its crossroads.’

International PEN is delighted that the work of this important author is being celebrated in this way.  Orhan Pamuk is a writer of extraordinary merit and he is also a great advocate for freedom of expression.

International PEN hopes that this award to Orhan Pamuk, who was himself on trial last year under Article 301 of the Turkish Penal Code for insulting ‘Turkishness,’ will serve to highlight the fact that there are still many writers and journalists in Turkey who are on trial solely for expressing their opinions.

Orhan Pamuk writes on issues that relate to identity and the experience of minorities. For too many writers in Turkey, this can lead them into the courtroom and in some cases, prison.  We are especially pleased that a writer of such quality and courage has received this honour,’ commented Dr Karin Clark, Chair of the Writers in Prison Committee.

Sjette Writers in Prison Committee konferanse

International PEN Writers in Prison Committee meets in Istanbul. Challenges Insult Laws


Over 50 writers, editors and publishers from 23 countries gathered in Istanbul this week for the 6th Writers in Prison Committee conference of International PEN, the worldwide association of writers. At meetings focusing on PEN’s global program, the members planned the launch of a campaign against insult and criminal defamation laws under which writers and journalists are imprisoned worldwide, including under Article 301 in Turkey.

Other key issues discussed included the recent uproar over Danish cartoons, impunity, the role of internet service providers in offering information on writers, especially in China, and the pressure by the Russian government on Russian PEN.

Hosted by the Turkish Centre of International PEN March 2-4, 2006, the PEN Conference also featured a panel on «Freedom of Expression in Turkey Today» with Fatih Tas, owner of Aram Publishing House, Oya Aydin, attorney, Ismet Berkan, editor-in-chief of Radikal and Fikret Ilkiz, attorney.

Despite the recent dismissal of the case against novelist Orhan Pamuk and the progress noted in Turkey, where no writer is currently in prison, PEN members expressed concern about the large number of trials against writers and journalists accused of «insult.»

At the conference the delegates also confirmed action on behalf of the seven editors who have been detained in Algeria, Jordan, and Yemen for republishing the cartoons originally published in a Danish newspaper depicting the Prophet Mohammed. Members confirmed their commitment to work for mutual respect among peoples, at the same time insisting on the principle of freedom of expression and denouncing violence as a censor.

The conference brought colleagues from around the world together who work on cases of writers imprisoned, threatened and sometimes killed because of their writing. PEN records over 1000 cases worldwide and works actively on 150-200 of these cases.

«What is important about International PEN is that it links authors, editors and publishers from all over the world in debates and discussions which lead to a better understanding of each other. We are all worrying that the situation for freedom of expression is getting worse globally so we need solidarity now more than ever,» said Muge Sokmen, Chair of the Writers in Prison Committee for Turkish PEN.

«One of the greatest values of International PEN’s Writers in Prison Committee is to provide a framework to discuss issues, to come to solutions, and to leave room for various points of view without compromising our first and foremost goal of promoting freedom of expression,» said Karin Clark, Chair of International PEN’s Writers in Prison Committee.

«PEN was founded on the principles of tolerance, respect among people, and  the free transmission of ideas, even those that may offend. Freedom of expression is the foundation of free societies,» said Joanne Leedom-Ackerman, International Secretary of International PEN.


International PEN and the Writers in Prison Committee

International PEN, the worldwide association of writers with 141 Centres in 99 Countries, exists to promote friendship and intellectual co-operation among writers everywhere, to fight for freedom of expression and represent the conscience of world literature.

The Writers in Prison Committee works on behalf of persecuted writers worldwide and monitors the cases of writers who have been imprisoned, tortured, threatened, attacked and killed for the peaceful practice of their professions. The WiPC campaigns to end these attacks and oppose suppression of freedom of expression wherever it occurs.

For a selection of statements from PEN Centres on the Danish cartoons issue please visit http://www.pen.org/page.php/prmID/1204