Abduction and Beating is a Grave Violation of Artistic Freedom

(New York, NY) — The reported abduction and beating of well-known Zimbabwean comedian and satirist Samantha Kureya, seemingly carried out in retaliation to her criticism of President Emmerson Mnangagwa and the ruling Zanu-PF party, is a reprehensible act of intimidation and threat to freedom of expression, PEN America said in a statement today.

“This deplorable act of violence, in which Ms. Kureya was beaten before her family, taken to an unidentified location, and forced to undergo degrading, cruel acts, is a serious affront to human dignity and artistic freedom of expression everywhere,” said Julie Trebault, Director of PEN America’s Artists at Risk Connection (ARC). “This attack is just one more example of the Zimbabwean government’s crackdown on artists and anyone who raises their voice in dissent. Artists have the right to express any idea, however critical it may be of those in power. We stand by Ms. Kureya in this harrowing time, and alongside artists everywhere who experience persecution as a result of their work.”

PEN America leads the Artists at Risk Connection (ARC), a program dedicated to assisting imperiled artists and fortifying the field of organizations that support them. Arterial Network is a member of ARC’s Advisory Committee. If you or someone you know is an artist at risk, contact ARC here.


PEN America stands at the intersection of literature and human rights to protect open expression in the United States and worldwide. We champion the freedom to write, recognizing the power of the word to transform the world. Our mission is to unite writers and their allies to celebrate creative expression and defend the liberties that make it possible. pen.org