Writers At Risk

PEN’s bedrock work is long-term advocacy on behalf of individual writers who are being persecuted because of their work. This page features several of our highest priority cases. With the help of our members and supporters, we are carrying out campaigns to win their release and ensure they are safe and can write and publish freely.

Take a moment to share information about these writers and take action on their behalf.

This is only a small sampling of writers under threat around the world. Click here for the most recent PEN International case list.

Status:
Country:

Nguyen Chi Thien | Status: Deceased | Vietnam

Vietnamese poet Nguyen Chi Thien spent almost 27 years in prison for his "politically irreverent poems" between 1960 and 1991. In 1989 he received the PEN/Barbara Goldsmith Freedom to… More

Eşber Yağmurdereli | Status: Released | Turkey

Blind playwright, poet, short story author, screenwriter, and lawyer, Eşber Yağmurdereli has been in and out of prison since 1978 and was the 1999 recipient of the PEN/Barbara Goldsmith… More

Pramoedya Ananta Toer | Status: Deceased | Indonesia

Pramoedya Ananta Toer (1925–2006) was the author of novels that chronicled much of that Southeast Asian country's turbulent history. Passing away in 2006, he leaves behind a legacy of… More

Flora Brovina | Status: Released | Kosovo

Born in 1949, Flora Brovina is a Kosovar-Albanian pediatrician, poet, and women’s rights activist. She was arrested on 20 April 1999, during the Kosovo War, and held in captivity in Serbia while NATO… More

Ayşe Nur Zarakolu | Status: Deceased | Turkey

Founder of Turkey’s Freedom to Publish Committee, Ayşe Nur Zarakolu was a political essayist, the director of Belge Publishing House, and the only woman publishing director in Turkey at… More

Jack Mapanje | Status: Released | Malawi

Jack Mapanje is a poet and storyteller of exile narratives and political power structures. He was detained without charge or trial for over three years until his release in… More

Shahla Lahiji | Status: Released | Iran

The first woman to run a publishing house in Iran, Shahla Lahiji is one of 19 Iranian writers and intellectuals prosecuted in Tehran for participating in an academic and… More

Nizametdin Akhmetov | Status: Released | Russia

Nizametdin Akhmetov, a Bashkir poet, was sent to a labor camp at age 18. After 20 years of imprisonment in labor camps and psychiatric hospitals, Akhmetov was released on… More

Matsemela Manaka | Status: Deceased | South Africa

Matsemela Manaka was a writer, director, actor, poet and cultural theorist. His career in playwriting was spurred much in part by the Soweto uprising in 1976. Manaka received the… More

Edip Polat | Status: Released | Turkey

Edip Polat is a Kurdish writer and biologist from southeastern Turkey. He is the author of five books about Kurdish issues, and has been jailed three times for advocating… More

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