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Truthtellers and the perseverance and bravery necessary to exercise—and defend—free expression take center stage at the PEN America 2019 Literary Gala. PEN America Courage Award honoree Anita Hill says ‘it’s taken generations to get the privilege that I have to write and to speak out, with the truth, and to speak truth to power,’ and she will never take it for granted. Bob Woodward, honored for his history-making reporting and writing, is recognized by fellow author Robert Caro as a reporter who ‘has never stopped trying to seek out facts, as many facts as he could get.’ Lina and Walid Al-Hathloul, siblings of jailed Saudi writer-activist recognized by the PEN/Barbey Freedom to Write Award, says knowing his sister Loujain is not forgotten ‘is the strongest breath of freedom she can inhale when everything else has been made to break her.’ (Join the call to demand the release of Loujain Al-Hathloul, Nouf Abdulaziz, and Eman Al-Nafjan.) Scholastic Chairman and CEO Richard Robinson, recognized for publishing books that inspire one new generation after another, speaks of reading as a civil right. Host John Oliver says that standing ‘against forces of authoritarianism, censorship, and silencing, together we can make a difference.’ -Dru Menaker, Chief Operating Officer

The most pressing threats and notable goings-on in free expression today


Anita Hill, Bob Woodward Honored at Annual PEN America Gala
Hundreds gathered Tuesday night at the American Museum of Natural History as the literary and human rights organization presented awards to Anita Hill and Bob Woodward, among others. With John Oliver serving as host, joking that the country under President Donald Trump was “not at its best right now,” the evening celebrated men and women at odds with their government, whether in the U.S. or abroad.

Anita Hill: We Don’t Need ‘to Take the Lesser of Two Evils’
Oscar-winning actress Lupita Nyong’o celebrated Hill as “one woman calling ‘time’s up’ decades before the wider society was ready to blow that whistle.” She continued, “Twenty-eight years later, a paradigm shift is occurring. There is an unstoppable wave of personal and societal revelation and truth-telling that emulates Hill’s initial heroic act. With the #MeToo movement … we are speaking together.”

Family of Jailed Saudi Feminist Loujain Al-Hathloul: She Was Waterboarded, Flogged and Electrocuted
“During this period where we weren’t allowed to have any visits, she has been tortured. … She has been flogged. She has been electrocuted. She has been sexually harassed. She has been deprived of sleep. And that was the period where she was in a secret prison. And when they allowed for the visits, she was back in the normal prison,” Loujain Al-Hathloul’s siblings Lina and Walid said.

Dick Robinson Calls Reading a ‘Civil Right’ at PEN Gala
“The history of Scholastic in this area [of freedom of expression] has often been controversial,” Robinson said. “Despite … controversies and temporary bans, schools have relied on our balanced approach to help the young gain basic knowledge about their world, with the larger goal of helping kids know how to build and maintain a fragile democracy.”


In a Possible First for Hong Kong, Activists Wanted by Police Gain Protection in Germany
Two years ago, Ray Wong and Alan Li, political activists in Hong Kong, were facing rioting charges over an all-night street clash with the police. They jumped bail and disappeared. Now they have come forward to say that they are under refugee protection in Germany, making them likely to be the first individuals from the semiautonomous Chinese city to have obtained such sanctuary.

Channel 4 News Blocked from Brexit Party Events in Wake of Nigel Farage Investigation
Channel 4 News is understood to be in talks with the Brexit Party after it was blacklisted from party events following an investigation into the funding of leader Nigel Farage. Editor Ben De Pear said his team had been “unaware of the six-week ban” until last Thursday–the day its investigation was published.

Results Expected in India’s ‘WhatsApp Election’
Myriad issues have been stake in these elections—among the most prominent are the state of the economy, geopolitical tensions, and rising sectarianism. But media and tech watchers, as well as many Western news outlets, have focused on a different, worrying trend: the rampant proliferation of disinformation and hate speech online.

Binyavanga Wainaina, Kenyan Author and Activist, Dies Aged 48
Kenyan author and activist Binyavanga Wainaina, the founder of the literary magazine Kwani, passed away following a short illness, the chairman of the Nairobi-based magazine announced. Time Magazine in 2014 included Wainaina in its list of the Most Influential People in the World.

DARE is a project of PEN America’s #LouderTogether campaign, bringing you a daily-curated roundup of the most important free expression-related news from the U.S. and abroad. Send your feedback and story suggestions to DARE@pen.org