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:

Ayşe Nur Zarakolu | Status: Deceased | Turkey

Founder of Turkey’s Freedom to Publish Committee, Ayşe Nur Zarakolu was a political essayist, the director of Belge Publishing House, and the only woman publishing director in Turkey at… More

Jack Mapanje | Status: Released | Malawi

Jack Mapanje is a poet and storyteller of exile narratives and political power structures. He was detained without charge or trial for over three years until his release in… More

Shahla Lahiji | Status: Released | Iran

The first woman to run a publishing house in Iran, Shahla Lahiji is one of 19 Iranian writers and intellectuals prosecuted in Tehran for participating in an academic and… More

Nizametdin Akhmetov | Status: Released | Russia

Nizametdin Akhmetov, a Bashkir poet, was sent to a labor camp at age 18. After 20 years of imprisonment in labor camps and psychiatric hospitals, Akhmetov was released on… More

Matsemela Manaka | Status: Deceased | South Africa

Matsemela Manaka was a writer, director, actor, poet and cultural theorist. His career in playwriting was spurred much in part by the Soweto uprising in 1976. Manaka received the… More

Edip Polat | Status: Released | Turkey

Edip Polat is a Kurdish writer and biologist from southeastern Turkey. He is the author of five books about Kurdish issues, and has been jailed three times for advocating… More

Rakhim Esenov | Status: Charges Dropped | Turkmenistan

Rakhim Esenov was charged in February 2004 with “inciting social, national, and religious hatred using the mass media,” which he has indicated refers to statements made by characters in… More

Nizar Nayouf | Status: In Exile | Syria

Nizar Nayouf is a writer, sociologist, and human rights activist who, at the time of the PEN/Barbara Goldsmith Freedom to Write Award, was serving a 10-year prison sentence with… More

Indamiro Restano Diaz | Status: Released | Cuba

Journalist, poet, and activist Indamiro Restano Diaz has been hailed as “the father of independent journalism” in Cuba for his pioneering leadership roles in multiple free press organizations. He… More

Jean Mario Paul | Status: Released | Haiti

Journalist and Radio correspondent, Jean Mario Paul is a native of Petit Gôave, 20 miles southwest of Port-au-Prince. Paul was well-known for his stories broadcast on Radio Antilles exposing… More

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