Day of the Imprisoned Writer 2017
08 Nov 2017
PEN South Africa and the Institute for Creative Arts are hosting an event in Cape Town to mark the Day of the Imprisoned Writer. Find details here.
On 15 November, PEN will mark the 36th Day of the Imprisoned Writer, an international day that recognises writers who have suffered persecution as a result of exercising their right to freedom of expression. Each year PEN monitors and campaigns on behalf of hundreds of writers around the globe who are harassed, persecuted, attacked, forced into exile and even killed as a result of their peaceful free expression work.
Each year PEN Centres and members worldwide use the Day of the Imprisoned Writer to highlight the unjust imprisonment and other forms of attack against writers worldwide, to remember those who have been killed, and stand in solidarity with imprisoned and threatened colleagues.
This year we are focusing on a number of specific cases from around the world that represent the type of threats and attacks faced by our colleagues.
Cesario Alejandro Félix Padilla Figueroa is a journalism graduate, student leader, and board member and founding member of PEN Honduras, who was convicted of ‘usurpation’ (‘usurpación’) at the National Autonomous University of Honduras (Universidad Nacional Autónoma de Honduras – UNAH) on 7 June 2017. PEN International believes that Padilla Figueroa and other university students are being persecuted for exercising their right to freedom of expression, association and assembly. Take action for Cesario Alejandro Félix Padilla Figueroa.
On 29 June 2017, blogger Nguyen Ngoc Nhu Quynh, popularly known by her pen name Me Nâm (Mother Mushroom), was convicted of “conducting propaganda against the Socialist Republic of Viet Nam” under Article 88 of the Penal Code and sentenced to 10 years in prison. PEN International believes that Me Nâm is being targeted for peacefully exercising her right to freedom of expression. Take action for Nguyen Ngoc Nhu Quynh.
Ramón Esono Ebalé, alias Jamón y Queso, is an award-winning cartoonist and activist, who, in addition to running his satirical blog, has published a graphic novel, La pesadilla de Obi (Obi’s nightmare). On 16 September 2017, he was arrested in Malabo, the capital of Equatorial Guinea and initially questioned by security agents in relation to his cartoons that are critical of President Obiang and other government officials. news outlets reported a few days later that Ebalé is being investigated for alleged money laundering and counterfeiting money. He was presented before a judge on 20 September where he was asked about these allegations. He is currently being held in preventive judicial detention while further investigations are conducted. Take action for Ramón Esono Ebalé
Razan Zaitouneh is a human rights defender, blogger, lawyer and co-founder of the Violations Documentation Centre in Syria (VDC). On 9 December 2013, Zaitouneh, along with her colleagues Samira al-Khalil, Nazem Hamadi and Wa’el Hamada (her husband) were abducted during a raid on the offices of the VDC in Douma, near Damascus, by a group of armed men. They had been documenting human rights violations after fleeing the Syrian government-controlled area. There has been no news of their whereabouts since their abduction, but they are presumed to be detained by an armed Islamic group in control of Douma. Take action for Razan Zaitouneh.
Zehra Doğan is serving a prison sentence of 2 year, 9 months and 22 days. On 24 March 2017, she was convicted of ‘propagandising for a terrorist organisation’ (Article 7/2 of the Anti-Terror Law) by the Second High Criminal Court of Mardin province, for her work as a painter and journalist. PEN International considers her imprisonment a violation of her right to freedom of expression as an artist and a journalist, and calls for her immediate and unconditional release. Take action for Zehra Doğan.
(Images courtesy of PEN International)