Writers At Risk

PEN’s bedrock work is long-term advocacy on behalf of individual writers who are being persecuted because of their work. This page features several of our highest priority cases. With the help of our members and supporters, we are carrying out campaigns to win their release and ensure they are safe and can write and publish freely.

Take a moment to share information about these writers and take action on their behalf.

This is only a small sampling of writers under threat around the world. Click here for the most recent PEN International case list.

Status:
Country:

Martha Kumsa | Status: Released | Ethiopia

Ethiopian writer and journalist Martha Kumsa was released from prison after several years of detention without charge or trial a few months after she received the PEN/Barbara Goldsmith Freedom… More

Maina wa Kinyatti | Status: Released | Kenya

Kenyan writer and historian Maina wa Kinyatti was released on October 17, 1988, after serving six and a half years in prison, and fled to Tanzania fearing rearrest. After… More

Godwin Agbroko | Status: Murdered | Nigeria

Godwin Agbroko, editorial board chairman of the private daily This Day, was arrested on two separate occasions in 1995, and again in 1996, when he spent several months in… More

Abraham Serfaty | Status: Deceased | Morocco

Abraham Serfaty is an editor and political activist, jailed for his writing and political activities while he advocated for the independence of Morocco. His voice and work toward liberation… More

Doan Viet Hoat | Status: Released | Vietnam

Doan Viet Hoat, founder of Freedom Forum, is an advocate of free speech and the release of all political prisoners. Doan was arrested in 1990 for allegedly attempting to… More

Thiagarajah Selvanithy (“Selvi”) | Status: Executed | Sri Lanka

Founder of the feminist journal Tholi and a gifted young poet, Thiagarajah Selvanithy was arrested by the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE, or Tamil Tigers) on August 30,… More

San San Nwe | Status: Released | Myanmar

San San Nwe (pen name Tha-ya-wadi) , a widely-respected writer and one of the first trained female journalists in Myanmar, has a reputation for reporting on human rights abuses… More

Ogaga Ifowodo | Status: Released | Nigeria

Poet Ogaga Ifowodo was arrested around November 6, 1997 on his way home from the Commonwealth Summit in Edinburgh, where he and other activists appealed for stronger sanctions against… More

Nguyen Chi Thien | Status: Deceased | Vietnam

Vietnamese poet Nguyen Chi Thien spent almost 27 years in prison for his "politically irreverent poems" between 1960 and 1991. In 1989 he received the PEN/Barbara Goldsmith Freedom to… More

Eşber Yağmurdereli | Status: Released | Turkey

Blind playwright, poet, short story author, screenwriter, and lawyer, Eşber Yağmurdereli has been in and out of prison since 1978 and was the 1999 recipient of the PEN/Barbara Goldsmith… More