PEN America Speaks: How We Defended and Celebrated Free Expression The Week of September 25
PEN America works tirelessly to defend free expression, support persecuted writers, and promote literary culture. Here are some of the latest ways PEN America is speaking out.
- PEN America leadership and Trustees met with White House and State Department officials and members of Congress to discuss advocacy of free expression worldwide.
- PEN America is expanding its program of events and actions this Banned Books Week to the full month of October, organizing with writers, actors, artists, publishers, and others who are stepping up to defend the freedom to read. Find our events here.
- PEN America is partnering with Writers Guild Initiative and Unite Against Book Bans to bring together more than 20 actors, and writers to spread the word about book bans by creating videos about their favorite banned books. The videos will be shared on social media to highlight the Banned Books Weekday of action on October 7.
- Nadine Farid Johnson, managing director of PEN America’s Washington office and Free Expression programs, joined U.S. Rep. Jamie Raskin, D-Maryland at a press conference condemning the sweeping attacks against the First Amendment rights of students, parents, and educators. Johnson said: “Book bans are anathema to democracy. These resolutions reaffirm the freedom to read as both foundational for a pluralistic, democratic society and critical to the formation of an informed citizenry.”
- CEO Suzanne Nossel congratulated the end of the 148-day-long strike called by the Writers Guild Association. “This agreement did not come easily; thousands of individuals engaged in the creative economy were deeply impacted by the work stoppage. Our own Screenwriters Emergency Financial Assistance Fund was a small gesture of support, and we recognize the sacrifices of so many to reach this agreement.”
- PEN America urged the Turkish government to dismiss all charges against renowned sociologist and writer Pınar Selek ahead of her hearing at the Istanbul Criminal Court on September 29. Justin Shilad, PEN America’s research and advocacy lead for the Middle East and North Africa, said: “The Turkish government’s relentless persecution of Pınar Selek comes from their fear of her ability to amplify marginalized voices through her research on minority rights and Kurdish communities. ”
- PEN America Freedom of Expression experts have compiled a resource hub for people who want to speak against censorship in school board meetings. Find the letter and more information here.
- PEN America condemned attacks on filmmaker Agnieszka Holland by the Polish government following the premiere of her movie Green Border, which tells the story of Syrian and Afghan refugees trying to reach Europe via the Belarusian border. Polina Sadovskaya, advocacy and Eurasia director, said: “This practice of socially engaged art threatens Polish politicians, who would clearly prefer to conceal details about the ways in which they are addressing the refugee crisis.”
- PEN America condemned the arrest of political cartoonist Tawfiq Omrane following the publication of a satirical cartoon mocking Tunisian prime minister, Ahmed Hachani. PEN America called for Omrane’s charges to be immediately dropped.
- Last week, PEN America’s Artists at Risk Connection (ARC) co-hosted a side-event at the UN Church Center with Race & Equality and PEN International for a panel discussion with Nicaraguan and Cuban human rights activists who discussed the escalating threats encountered by activists trying to carry out their work. Closing remarks were given by ARC Director, Julie Trebault.