(New York, NY) — PEN America today called for the U.S. to act swiftly to offer protection to writers and cultural actors in Afghanistan. The following is attributable to PEN America’s senior director of free expression programs, Summer Lopez:

“As the Taliban reclaims power in Afghanistan, the many courageous Afghan writers, cultural actors, journalists, and activists—especially women—who have exercised and defended the right to freedom of expression are facing grave and imminent threats. PEN America calls on the U.S. State Department and the Department of Homeland Security to work to swiftly offer safe harbor to these individuals, via the expansion and expediting of visa processing and the granting of humanitarian parole. The prospects for freedom of expression and human rights in Afghanistan under Taliban rule are deeply alarming, and broad action is necessary from the U.S. and the international community to protect those who are most likely to be targeted, as well as to defend the fundamental rights of the Afghan people.”

PEN America is calling on its Members and allies to write to their members of Congress appealing for immediate support. In the weeks leading up to the country’s collapse, Taliban forces murdered two members of Afghanistan PEN, highlighting the grave threat writers and others in the country may now face.