2019 Literary Gala: Presentation of the 2019 PEN/Barbey Freedom to Write Award
At the 2019 PEN America Literary Gala, PEN America honored imprisoned writers Nouf Abdulaziz, Loujain Al-Hathloul, and Eman Al-Nafjan with the 2019 PEN/Barbey Freedom to Write Award. These writer-activists have been subjected to imprisonment, solitary confinement, and torture by the Saudi Arabian government as part of its brutal crackdown on individuals who raise their voices in defense of women’s rights in the Kingdom.
Below are the full remarks from Loujain Al-Hathloul’s siblings, Lina and Walid Al-Hathloul, who accepted the award on behalf of the honorees.
“I would like to be remembered as a person who wanted to be free, so other people would also be free.” These are the words of Rosa Parks in an interview with PBS Radio. And I’m sure this is how Loujain feels every day of her life, and that is what keeps her so strong. But most importantly, you contribute to make her remembered for what she truly is, far from the defamation campaigns that have been targeted against her. By awarding her such a prestigious prize, you become the voice of the voiceless, the voiceless who was once the voice of the voiceless, but has been sent behind bars to be silenced as well.
The idea of knowing she’s not forgotten, and that people still stand with her is the strongest breath of freedom she can inhale when everything else has been made to break her. We want to thank you PEN America for publicly standing with us, we want to thank you for standing with humanity, we want to thank you for being supportive, and we want to thank you for standing for the brave, so thank you, PEN.