Writers-in-Prison / Writers-at-Risk

The Writers-in-Prison-Committee of International PEN was set up in 1960 as a result of mounting concern about attempts in an increasing number of countries around the world to silence critical voices through the harassment and imprisonment of writers. The Committee works on behalf of all writers, publishers, editors, and journalists who are detained or otherwise persecuted for their opinions expressed in writing and on behalf of those under attack for their peaceful political activities or for the practice of their profession, provided that they did not use violence or advocate violence or racial hatred, or in any other way violate the Charter of International PEN.

In the meantime, over 50 of a total of 140 member Centers of International PEN have founded their own national Writers-in-Prison-Committees. Coordinated by the International WiPC in London, these are actively campaigning for an improvement in the conditions of their persecuted colleagues. They send protest letters and appeals to the governments concerned and lobby their own governments to intervene on behalf of detained writers and investigate cases of torture and killings. Through establishing contact with the families, and where possible, directly writing to the prisoners themselves, they provide encouragement and hope. Particularly endangered colleagues may be nominated as honorary members by individual Centers.

The International Writers-in-Prison-Committee at the London head office of International PEN gathers information about individual cases from a wide variety of sources, seeking to attain confirmation through two independent sources. Sources include press reports, reports from individuals in the region in question, reports from other human rights groups, from PEN members themselves, prisoners’ families, lawyers, and friends, exile groups, etc.

Every six months, the International PEN Writers-in-Prison-Committee in London publishes a country by country list of all cases PEN has been involved in during that period. The list is updated daily. A monthly bulletin informs member Centers of the latest developments. Rapid action campaigns are organized on behalf of colleagues whose life and health are in danger.

International PEN has consultative status at the United Nations and with UNESCO. Two full-time assistants work in support of the elected Chair of the International Writers-in-Prison-Committee.

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05.05.2021, 19 Uhr – (German) Ist die Meinungsfreiheit in der Türkei abgeschafft? So steht es um die Bürgerrechte unter Erdoğan

(German) Im Rahmen der Woche der Meinungsfreiheit nimmt die Veranstaltungsreihe zu Writers in Prison/ Writers in Exile u.a. mit PEN-Mitglied Doğan Akhanlı unter Moderation von Nina George, Präsidentin des European Writers’ Council und Mitglied des deutschen PEN, die prekäre Lage von Autorinnen und Autoren in der Türkei in den Blick. Continue reading

(German) PEN und Friedrich Naumann-Stiftung starten digitale Writers in Prison/Writers in Exile-Veranstaltungsreihe

(German) Pressemitteilung, Darmstadt/München, 31. März 2021. Mit „BELARUS: Das weibliche Gesicht der Revolution“ macht die Friedrich-Naumann-Stiftung für die Freiheit/ Thomas-Dehler-Stiftung in Kooperation mit dem PEN-Zentrum Deutschland den Auftakt einer Online-Veranstaltungsreihe zu Writers in Prison/Writers in Exile am 7. April um 19 Uhr, um einen genauen Blick auf Autorinnen und Autoren in Not zu werfen und über die Meinungsfreiheit in den jeweiligen Ländern zu diskutieren. Continue reading


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