(New York, NY) — On Thursday, May 27, PEN America—in partnership with Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights, Amnesty International USA, and the makers of the documentary film NASRIN—will host a virtual reading in solidarity with women’s rights activists Nasrin Sotoudeh, Loujain Al-Hathloul, and all individuals unjustly detained for their free expression.

Internationally-recognized writer and journalist Sarah Chayes will moderate the virtual reading featuring works by women from around the world who have been imprisoned for speaking out. Chayes will introduce six young women activists to read excerpts of writing by Iranian advocate Nasrin Sotoudeh, Saudi feminist Loujain Al-Hathloul, Ugandan poet Stella Nyanzi, Vietnamese writer Pham Doan Trang, Belarusian philosopher Olga Shparaga, and Chinese online poet Zhang Wenfang to honor their work and challenge the attempts to silence voices.

WHAT: #FreeNasrinandLoujain: Virtual Reading of Imprisoned Women’s Writing around the World 

WHEN: Thursday, May 27, 2021 at 1:00 pm ET/10:00 am PT 

WHERE: Virtual (register here)

WHO: Amnesty International USA Executive Director Paul O’Brien, writer-journalist Sarah Chayes, PEN America Director of Free Expression Programs Karin Deutsch Karlekar, Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights Speak Truth To Power Director Karen Robinson, and author and filmmaker Amir Soltani.

“These imprisoned women, each in her own way, demonstrate the imperative to defend and promote human rights and free expression, and their stories represent the harrowing experiences of many others detained for their work,” said Karin Deutsch Karlekar, director of free expression at risk programs at PEN America. “We must fight efforts to silence women and individuals for their expression and amplify their voices when they are under threat. We hope that this virtual reading by young women activists will amplify these voices, express our deep solidarity with them under the threats they face, and encourage free expression defenders everywhere to share the stories of those unjustly detained.”

Iranian lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh said, “Our children must not inherit silence.” They also must not inherit apathy. Nasrin Sotoudeh and Saudi feminist Loujain Al-Hathloul represent the future of women and girls around the world. Together, their struggle for human rights through activism and free expression transcends the narrow boundaries of politics and religion. Women and individuals around the world have been imprisoned for their writing and free expression. Reading their works in solidarity amplifies their voices and challenges the suppression of their free expression in support of human rights.