PEN International marks the 30th Annual Day of the Imprisoned Writer
On 15th November 2011 PEN International, the worldwide association of writers, will mark the 30th Annual Day of the Imprisoned Writer; an international day of action intended to recognize and support writers who have resisted repression of their basic human right to freedom of expression.
This year PEN International is using the occasion both to commemorate the 34 writers who have been killed in the last year and to draw particular attention to a number of recent cases from around the world which demonstrate the kinds of persecution writers and journalists continue to face in carrying out their day-to-day activities.
«For thirty years, on this day, PEN members worldwide have stood, spoken, written in solidarity with our imprisoned, murdered and threatened colleagues,» said Marian Botsford Fraser, Chair of PEN International’s Writers in Prison Committee. «The writers we honour today are emblematic of the courage writers everywhere show in defiance of brutal, systemic censorship».
This year PEN International will be advocating in particular on behalf of the following writers:
Reeyot Alemu (Ethiopia): a political columnist who has been held incommunicado and without charge since her arrest on 21st of June 2011.
Susana Chavez (Mexico): a poet and human rights activist who was murdered on 6 January 2011 in an attack many have claimed was the result of her writing and activism.
Tashi Rabten (Tibet): a poet and essayist, convicted of inciting separatism for a collection of political articles he wrote concerning the suppression of the March 2008 protests in Lhasa.
Abdul-Jalil Al-Singace (Bahrain): an activist and online blogger who has been sentenced to life imprisonment for publicising the deteriorating human rights situation in his home country.
Nadim Sener and Ahmet Shik (Turkey): journalists who have been detained for writing books and articles disclosing police and other high level links to individuals arrested in the Ergenekon case under which over 200 people are accused of being involved in coup plots.
PEN members around the world have also been using the occasion to campaign on behalf of imprisoned or persecuted writers in their own countries.
«This tool of imprisonment is used to send a message – that writers can be controlled; somehow re-educated to mind their words”, said John Ralston Saul, International President of PEN International, “That message was always wrong. It is wrong today. PEN will continue to work for the release of our colleagues”.