PEN America Speaks: How We Defended and Celebrated Free Expression The Week of April 8

By: Lisa Tolin

April 12, 2024

Advocacy, News & Analysis

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 announced that its Literary Awards on April 29 will honor legendary playwright and screenwriter Tony Kushner as this year’s recipient of the PEN/Mike Nichols Writing for Performance Award. The Academy Award-nominated writer and comedian Jena Friedman will host as we recognize the late novelist and critic Maryse Condé with the PEN/Nabokov Award for Achievement in International Literature, playwright Guadalís Del Carmen with the PEN/Laura Pels International Foundation for Theater Award, and poet and translator Suzanne Jill Levine with the PEN/Ralph Manheim Award for Translation. Our full longlist of award nominees can be viewed here

  • PEN America announced that its World Voices Festival, now in its 20th year since its founding by Salman Rushdie and others in the wake of 9/11, will feature 35 events with more than 100 writers, among them our current president Jennifer Finney Boylan with her co-author Jodi Picoult, Roxane Gay, Min Jin Lee, Patrick Radden Keefe, Rita Dove, Carmen Boullosa, James McBride, and Leigh S Bardugo.

  • Rushdie and his fellow past presidents of PEN America Ayad Akhtar, Kwame Anthony Appiah, Louis Begley, Joel Conarroe, Jennifer Egan, Frances Fitzgerald, Peter Godwin, and Andrew Solomon reminded our community of the essential need for the festival in our times of greatest discord, writing that “as vitriolic and violence has surged, the visionary purpose  behind the festival has only grown more urgent.”
  • PEN America announced that Vietnamese author-blogger-journalist Pham Doan Trang will receive the PEN/Barbey Freedom to Write Award, an honor given last year to Narges Mohammadi, who went on to receive the Nobel Peace Prize. Trang has been persecuted and jailed Trang in an effort to still her voice on democracy, human rights, environmental degradation, and women’s empowerment.

  • PEN America’s Artists at Risk Connection in collaboration with UNESCO and co-sponsored by the Permanent Mission of Norway to the United Nations hosted the event Defending Creative Voices: Protection of Artists in Times of Emergencies at the United Nations Headquarters. Bringing together renowned experts and artists, the event raised awareness among UN Member States and civil society actors about the impact of emergency situations on writers and artists, as well as to call for enhanced coordination and comprehensive efforts to defend artistic freedom during crises. A reception followed the event, featuring a performance by DJ Switch and a visit to the exhibition “Culture under Attack: Safeguarding Heritage in Emergency.” The live stream is available here

  • Freedom to Read Program Director Kasey Meehan spoke to NPR about  librarians in Prattville, Alabama, who lost their jobs over book challenges.
  • Interim Washington Director Hadar Harris spoke at the Conference on World Affairs at University of Colorado, Boulder. Among the panels on which she spoke was, “Freedom of Expression: Don’t Tell Me What to Say, Read, or Think”

  • Jonathan Friedman, Sy Syms managing director of U.S. free expression and education programs writes: A Mississippi Teacher was Terminated for Reading a Book. Time to Reverse that Decision about Toby Price, an educator who was dismissed for reading a book called “I Need a New Butt!” to second graders. 

See previous PEN America updates

PEN America Speaks: How We Defended and Celebrated Free Expression The Week of April 1

By: Lisa Tolin

April 5, 2024

Advocacy, News & Analysis

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 released a new white paper, Cracks in the Facade, which shows how a groundswell of activism has helped the fight against Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’ aggressive push to upend basic rights — the freedom to read, learn, and speak, among others.

  • Our new report, The Power of Peer Support, calls on the journalism industry to invest in spaces where journalists under attack online can find the support they need, especially from peers who share their background and lived experience.

  •  PEN American announced 12 debut writers chosen for originality, craft, and pushing the boundaries of the genre as winners of the $2000 PEN/Robert J. Dau Short Story Prize for Emerging Writers. Their exceptional short stories will be published by Catapult in the annual anthology Best Debut Short Stories: The PEN America Dau Prize.
  • The U.S. cyber-defence agency launched an initiative this week to support communities at heightened risk of digital security threats because of their work, which features PEN America’s resources.
  • Freedom to Learn Program Director Jeremy C. Young and researcher Jeffrey Sachs wrote that government-mandated campus neutrality laws inevitably create not neutrality, but government censorship. 
  • Following the Georgian Dream party’s reintroduction of the draft law on foreign agents, Liesl Gerntholtz, director of the PEN/Barbey Freedom to Write Center, warned that the move would “undermine the essential and independent work of writers, cultural figures, and journalists.”
  • PEN America Fellow Katrina Sommer interviewed disinformation expert Yaël Eisenstat about her biggest concerns ahead of the 2024 election.
  • In response to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announcing he would shut down Al Jazeera in Israel after the Israeli Knesset passed a bill authorizing him to do so, PEN America said banning Al Jazeera is a clear violation of free expression and press freedom.
  • Deputy CEO  Eileen Hershenov gave a keynote address on building resilience in the age of disinformation at Connecticut State Community College in Norwalk.
  • Freedom to Read Program Director Kasey Meehan likened the ongoing fight against legislation intended to restrict what teachers can teach to a game of whack-a-mole.

See previous PEN America updates

PEN America Speaks: How We Defended and Celebrated Free Expression The Week of March 25

By: Manal Khan

March 29, 2024

Advocacy, News & Analysis

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 condemned the reported assault and unjust arrest of Ismail Alghoul and called on the Israeli military to immediately and diligently investigate the circumstances of the case and make the findings public.
  • Karin Deutsch Karlekar, director of PEN’s Writers at Risk program traveled with two recently exiled Iranian dissidents to Geneva, joining a coalition of Iranian and international human rights organizations calling on the UN’s Human Rights Council (UNHRC) to extend the mandate of the Independent International Fact-Finding Mission on the Islamic Republic of Iran.
  • Los Angeles Director Allison Lee was invited to debate the mayor of Huntington Beach, California, live in the CBS studio over a new library ordinance that creates a community committee to make kids’ book selections.
  • PEN America’s Artists at Risk Connection (ARC) released a statement expressing deep concern for the safety and well-being of artists and others across Russia, whose right to free expression is relentlessly being suppressed. This statement was made in response to over thirty artists’ homes and studios searched by state police ahead of the presidential election.

  • PEN America today criticized a decision by the Millburn School District in Illinois to pull out of the Rebecca Caudill Young Readers’ Book Award, a statewide program celebrating children’s literature, as “placing ideology over pedagogy or children’s needs.”
  • ARC participated in the event “What’s Next for Cuba?” reflecting on the outcomes of the UPR and future challenges. The event included remarks from the activist Kirenia Yalit, an artistic intervention from ARC and PEN International’s Cuban Migrant Artists Resilience Fellow, Nonardo Perea, and the showing of the documentary “Dos Patrias,” engaging the audience on the state of artistic freedom and human rights on the island. 

  • PEN America initiated a petition urging New York state prison authorities to grant P.M. Dunne’s request for protective custody or transfer to another facility, highlighting the imminent danger he faces due to threats on his life while incarcerated.
  • ARC, PEN International, and the PEN Club of Cuban Writers in Exile led a joint oral statement, along with other civil society organizations, following the outcome of the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) of the Cuban State. The statement highlighted cases of imprisoned artists such as Luis Manuel Otero Alcántara, Maykel Castillo Pérez, and Maria Cristina Garrido Rodriguez and urged member states to demand the immediate release of creatives imprisoned in Cuba, an end to forced exile, and that the Cuban State implement measures for the full exercise of human rights.

  • ARC also joined eight other organizations and civil society in a statement calling on the Cuban State to comply with the recommendations received during the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) process. The statement denounces the Cuban State’s rejection of 28 recommendations, which included requests for the release of political prisoners, the cessation of repression and harassment against dissident voices, the access of independent observers to trials and prisons, and the development of free and fair elections. 

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PEN America Speaks: How We Defended and Celebrated Free Expression The Week of March 18

By: Manal Khan

March 22, 2024

Advocacy, News & Analysis

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 published an open letter to the community regarding the war in Gaza, reaffirming its commitment to diverse viewpoints and outlining steps to move forward, including dialogue and expanded support for Palestinian writers with a substantial financial contribution to the Netherlands-based PEN Emergency Fund for distribution to Palestinian writers in need.
  • PEN America strongly condemned the reported assault and arrest of Al Jazeera correspondent Ismail Alghoul by Israeli forces in Gaza, calling for an immediate investigation into the incident and emphasizing the importance of press freedom. 
  • Madison Markham, program assistant for the Freedom to Read team, wrote about the new legislation that would increase censorship K-12 schools encompasses a wide array of measures, from “Don’t Display Gay” bills targeting LGBTQ+ expression to attempts to introduce anti-communism education reminiscent of McCarthyism, all posing significant threats to free expression and academic freedom.
  • James Tager, Research Director at PEN, wrote about the China scandal over the Hugo Awards. Leaked emails expose how Hugo Award administrators compiled political dossiers on authors to avoid Chinese censorship, sacrificing the integrity of the award and revealing the insidious impact of self-censorship in the face of political pressure.
  • Jonathan Friedman appeared in a special, Read or Restrict, about the controversy in Indiana over book bans. 
  • The Artists at Risk Connection at PEN America expressed deep concern over the recent raids on artists’ homes and studios by Russia’s Federal Security Service.
  • PEN America sent a letter to members of the Dorchester School District 2 School Board in South Carolina regarding its response to a book-banning activist’s demand that 572 titles be removed from the district.
  • EveryLibrary and PEN America opposed a proposed ordinance in Huntington Beach, California, establishing a community review board for children’s library materials, denouncing it as censorship that infringes on First Amendment rights and undermines the expertise of librarians. 
     
  • PEN America and multiple human rights organizations urged support for renewing the mandates of the UN Special Rapporteur on Iran’s human rights situation and the Independent International Fact-Finding Mission on Iran, emphasizing their critical roles in addressing ongoing human rights violations and systemic impunity in the country.
  • PEN America and human rights organizations urged the UNHRC to extend the mandate of the FFMI, highlighting its crucial role in documenting human rights violations in Iran, alongside the renewal of the Special Rapporteur’s mandate, as outlined in a joint letter sent to Member states.
  •  For World Poetry Day, James Tager was quoted in an article highlighting the threats and censorship that Asian poets face. “Tibetan writers and poets who persist in sharing the contents of their heart, despite heavy-handed government censorship and retaliation, show tremendous courage and resilience. They also play a critical role in society by preserving and elevating Tibetan culture.”
  • Arizona chapter leader Michelle Beaver wrote in the Arizona Mirror about the threat of disinformation and how to protect yourself. 

See previous PEN America updates

PEN America Speaks: How We Defended and Celebrated Free Expression The Week of March 11

By: Manal Khan

March 15, 2024

Advocacy, News & Analysis

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 Florida director Katie Blankenship wrote that in the recent legislative session in Florida, PEN America’s advocacy led to several wins, including successfully opposing a bill that aimed to make it easier for public figures to sue journalists, a measure that sought to ban gay pride flags and other protected speech, and a bill that would penalize students for “promoting” foreign terrorist organizations.
  • Laura Schroeder, the Congressional Affairs lead for PEN America, criticized the House’s passage of a bill to ban TikTok, stating it sets a troubling precedent and urging the Senate to reject it or for President Biden to veto it. PEN America signed a letter with other advocacy organizations expressing deep concern over the bill’s violation of free speech rights and its potential to empower authoritarian practices internationally.
  • As civic discourse and social cohesion continue to face considerable headwinds amid worsening political polarization in the United States, PEN America endorsed the reintroduction of the Building Civic Bridges Act, which seeks to address political polarization and fragmentation.
  • Moira Marquis, Senior Manager at the PEN America Free Write project, celebrated the publication of Books Through Bars: Stories from the Prison Books Movement, a collection of inspiring stories from the prison book movement and a guide for people who want to swell its ranks. Read more about her book in a Q and A here!
  • Blankenship welcomed the settlement in Equality Florida v. Florida State Board of Education regarding HB 1557, known as the “Don’t Say Gay” bill, saying it would protect classrooms from some of the bill’s most dangerous implications. But she said PEN America would continue to fight against the law’s chilling effect on protected expression.
  • Jonathan Friedman and Elly Brinkley wrote about the rights of free speech for professors outside classrooms, focusing on the case of Professor Jairo Fúnez-Flores at Texas Tech University, whose social media posts led to allegations of antisemitism and discriminatory harassment.
  • PEN America warned that Florida’s passage of House Bill 3, requiring parental consent for minors to use social media, likely violates the First Amendment and imposes unnecessary restrictions on free speech, urging Governor Ron DeSantis to veto the bill to prevent further censorship and potential costly litigation.
  • Jeremy C Young and Jacqueline Allain wrote for University News about why Americans must speak up to defend university autonomy. 

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PEN America Speaks: How We Defended and Celebrated Free Expression The Week of March 4

By: Manal Khan

March 8, 2024

Advocacy, News & Analysis

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 will honor songwriting legend Paul Simon with the PEN/Audible Literary Service Award at the 2024 PEN America Literary Gala to celebrate his indelible lyrics, boundless contributions to our canon and elevation of essential cultures over nearly six decades. Almar Latour, CEO of Dow Jones and publisher of The Wall Street Journal, will receive the Business Visionary award, reflecting his company’s commitment to the free press and persistence in demanding the release of Evan Gershkovich, the Journal reporter jailed in Russia. 
  • PEN America CEO made an appearance on PBS, interviewed by Amanpour and Company, talking about the “The Real Culture Wars” Between Democracy and Autocracy. 

  • PEN America strongly criticized the recent passage of House Bill 1291 by the Florida Senate, expressing concern that the legislation would stifle professors, curriculum, and classroom discussions on critical issues like race and gender in college-level teacher preparation programs. Katie Blankenship, Director of PEN America Florida, emphasized that the legislation restricts education on crucial issues, lacks clarity in defining terms, and ultimately weakens the public education system.
  • PEN America welcomed the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals’ decision to uphold a preliminary injunction against Florida’s Stop WOKE Act, condemning its “blatant viewpoint discrimination.” In the ruling of Honeyfund.com Inc. vs. DeSantis, the court asserts the Act’s infringement on employer training’s constitutionality, marking a victory for free expression and speech.
  • PEN America, alongside seven other non-partisan organizations, submitted a letter to the Florida Legislature denouncing the newly amended House Bill 3 (HB 3). The coalition, including the ACLU of Florida, the Trevor Project, and NetChoice, argues that the bill, seeking to restrict minors’ access to social media with parental consent for users aged 14 or 15, is overly vague and violates Floridians’ right to privacy. 
  • Kasey Meehan and Sam LaFrance from Freedom to Read wrote about the threat that the book-banning movement brings to topics related to sexual violence in books. “A quarter of over 3,000 book bans that PEN America recorded were books with scenes of rape or sexual assault. Of the 12 most frequently banned titles, five contained scenes of rape or sexual assault: The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison, A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J. Maas, Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher, Sold by Patricia McCormick, and Identical by Ellen Hopkins. The erasure of books on sexual abuse is striking amid an epidemic of sexual violence.”
  • Katie Blankenship, Director of PEN America Florida also wrote about the recent tide of censorship bills in the Florida Legislature this session and the evident crack in this latest wave. 
 

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PEN America Speaks: How We Defended and Celebrated Free Expression The Week of February 26

By: Manal Khan

March 1, 2024

Advocacy, News & Analysis

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 condemned attempts by U.S. Rep. Chip Roy and State Rep. Brian Harrison to interfere with Texas A&M’s academic programs, emphasizing the importance of preserving academic freedom and open debate in universities.
  • A coalition of 20 education, rights, and faith-based organizations, including PEN America, urged Florida lawmakers to reject Senate Bill 1372, a proposed legislation mirroring the Stop WOKE Act from 2022, which was previously blocked for violating the First Amendment. 
  • Director of Free Expression and Education Programs Jonathan Friedman testified that New York’s libraries serve as a model for how public libraries can facilitate “an equitable and inclusive democracy for all.”
  • Kasey Meehan, program director, Freedom to Read, joined PEN Canada, Ontario School Libraries Association, Centre for Free Expression/Ontario Library Association, and Ottawa Public Library in a discussion on book bans during Canada’s Freedom to Read Week.  
  • The Freedom to Read Program hosted our monthly Author Briefing in partnership with Authors Against Book Bans, hosting over 40 authors to talk about current legislative attacks on the freedom to read.
  • PEN America’s Digital Safety team hosted a bystander intervention training with Right to Be, held several online defense trainings, and participated in the Web Foundation consultation on tech facilitated gender based online violence, a discussion gathering global civil society representatives and tech policy experts to establish a series of minimum standards for policymaking on online gender-based violence.
 

See previous PEN America updates

PEN America Speaks: How We Defended and Celebrated Free Expression The Week of February 19

By: Manal Khan

February 23, 2024

Advocacy, News & Analysis

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 sharply criticized the decision by Catholic University to fire a lecturer after a guest speaker invited to her class spoke about abortion in response to student questions. The free expression advocacy organization called on the university to reverse the firing saying it was a “gross violation of academic freedom.”
  • In response to the public hearing at the Royal Court of Justice in London regarding Julian Assange’s appeal of his extradition order to the United States, PEN America strongly condemned the charges he might be facing under the US Espionage Act, which continues to pose an alarming threat to press freedom.  

  • PEN America, the National Coalition Against Censorship, Read Freely Alabama, and EveryLibrary today called on the Autauga-Prattville Library Board (AL) to reverse its new policy prohibiting all children’s and young adult books related to sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, and relevant issues. The groups called the new policy discriminatory and urged the Prattville Library to uphold the freedom to read for all its patrons.

 

See previous PEN America updates

PEN America Speaks: How We Defended and Celebrated Free Expression The Week of February 12

By: Manal Khan

February 16, 2024

Advocacy, News & Analysis

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 mourned the death of 47-year-old Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny, who died a political prisoner in a Russian penal colony. PEN America CEO Suzanne Nossel said Navalny “embodied the spirit of a free Russia with a spine of steel, unremitting determination and a spirit of derring-do.”
  • PEN America urged Congress to pass landmark legislation to protect human rights defenders abroad as they face reprisals from their governments. Sen. Ben Cardin (D-MD) and Rep. Jim McGovern (D-MA-02) introduced the Human Rights Defenders Protection Act that would create a new visa category allowing up to 500 human rights defenders a year facing reprisals at home to enter the United States. 
  • Anh-Thu Vo, research and advocacy coordinator from PEN America, alongside PEN International and the Vietnamese PEN Abroad Centre, delivered an oral statement at the Fourth UPR Cycle pre-session in Geneva on February 13 providing recommendations to protect writers and dissidents at risk in Vietnam. This statement aligned with our joint UPR submission.
  • PEN America CEO, Suzanne Nossel wrote for the Boston Globe about the threats to free speech, academic freedom, and ideological diversity on university campuses. She suggests that they can only be addressed through broad, campus-wide reforms across areas like orientation programs, classroom teaching, extracurricular training, messaging, and policies enforced by leadership to transform campus culture to support open exchange. 
  • PEN America’s Artists at Risk Connection (ARC) was a partner for the PANAF Summit, the first regional gathering on artistic freedom in Africa. ARC’s Africa Regional Representative, Sam Brakarsh, attended the Summit in Zanzibar and presented ARC and the AMANI Network’s work and developing strategy in the region. 
  • ARC convened an Experts Meeting on Cultural Rights and Development. The session commenced with a dialogue surrounding participants’ international advocacy objectives for 2024 about cultural rights. This forthcoming meeting will center on the Special Rapporteur’s involvement and strategic approach in addressing the ongoing crisis in Gaza.
  • In late 2023, PEN America submitted a report to the United Nations Human Rights Council’s Independent International Commission of Inquiry in Ukraine detailing Russia’s extensive attacks on Ukrainian cultural infrastructure. 
  • PEN America and PEN International jointly submitted a contribution to the United Nations Independent Expert’s report on the root causes of violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. This submission focuses on legislative threats to free expression in United States public educational institutions.
  • PEN America condemned the unjust conviction and sentencing of Chinese labor and women’s rights activist Li Qiaochu. Li, who is the partner of imprisoned activist, essayist, and PEN/Barbey Freedom to Write awardee Xu Zhiyong
  • PEN America hosted our former President, Jennifer Egan, for a talk with the staff, where she discussed her process as a writer and the use of language. Read more here. 
  • PEN America, joined by a coalition of authors – including Khaled Hosseini, Maia Kobabe, and Molly Knox Ostertagsent a letter to Rockingham County, Virginia, Public Schools protesting a recent ban on over 50 books and urging that the district return these books to shelves.
  • In response to the ongoing investigation into Harvard University by the House Education and Workforce Committee, Jeremy Young, director, of the Freedom to Learn program at PEN America said: “This investigation is turning into a fishing expedition. The charges of antisemitism at Harvard are serious and demand urgent action. But when a congressional committee begins probing the internal affairs of a private university, it must act with great restraint, and the utmost respect for academic freedom and institutional autonomy.”
  • Sam LaFrance, Free Expression and Education editorial project manager wrote about the legislators in Nebraska who are trying to undermine higher education in the state in the name of destroying “woke” ideologies. Two bills would threaten tenure, academic freedom, and university autonomy. If passed, the bills would put the future of higher education in Nebraska in serious doubt.
  • PEN America Digital Safety team conducted a training for Scholastic for authors and another with Internews for women journalists in exile.

See previous PEN America updates

PEN America Speaks: How We Defended and Celebrated Free Expression The Week of February 5

By: Manal Khan

February 9, 2024

Advocacy, News & Analysis

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 criticized Barnard College for quietly rewriting its policy to prohibit departments from posting “political statements” in an apparent effort to suppress pro-Palestinian speech. “The swift rollout of these new website policies, without faculty consultation, makes plain that they are a response to pro-Palestinian speech that someone wanted to suppress,” said Jonathan Friedman, director of free expression and education programs at PEN America. 
  • PEN America issued a statement condemning a Missouri political candidate for torching LGBTQ-themed books, our Freedom to Read Director, Kasey Meehan, called it “appalling” and said it “brings to mind a violent history of suppression and denigration of books, ideas, and LGBTQ people.” 
  • Sam LaFrance our Free Speech and Education expert, wrote about the six bills in various states that impose restrictions related to diversity, equity and inclusion efforts, critical race theory, and other issues in public higher education, likely chilling academic freedom and campus free speech through vague definitions and penalties threatening free expression. 
  • PEN America expressed anguish about the impact of the conflict between Israel and Hamas on writers, artists, and culture and said they would continue efforts to protect imperiled artists and writers while speaking out on threats to free expression from the conflict.
  • PEN America’s Artists at Risk Connection (ARC) strongly condemned the arbitrary detention of Iranian rapper Vafa Ahmadpour and called for his immediate release. Vafa Ahmadpour’s arrest is another terrible example of the unjust persecution faced by rappers and artists like Toomaj Salehi and Saman Yasin, who dare speak out against government policies.
  • Katie Blankenship, director of PEN America’s Florida office condemned the two bills introduced in the Florida Legislature, HB 757 and SB 1780, which are blatant attempts to undermine freedom of the press. “These bills seek to instill fear in journalists and their sources, chilling constitutionally protected speech.”
  • PEN America strongly condemned the Chinese court’s decision to give Australian novelist, pro-democracy blogger, and political commentator Yang Hengjun a suspended death sentence and called for his immediate and unconditional release.
  • PEN America and PEN International jointly submitted a contribution to the Special Rapporteur’s report on academic freedom and free expression in educational institutions. This submission will focus largely on threats to academic freedom in the United States, but it also includes a small section on international scholar-writers and trends in threats against their academic freedom.