International Day of the Imprisoned Writer 15th November 2010

15 Nov 2010
Albie Sachs (courtesy Books LIVE)

PEN International, the only worldwide writers association, was established in 1921 with freedom of expression as one of the founding principles of the organization. Today there are over 140 PEN centres in more than 100 countries across the world. South African PEN is proud to be one of them.

The Writers in Prison Committee of PEN International was established in 1960 and is celebrating its fiftieth anniversary this year. That is half a century of campaigning for writers imprisoned and persecuted for speaking truth to power.

Margie Orford, Executive Vice President of South African PEN, attended the 76th PEN International Congress in Tokyo in September and was tasked by the chair of the International Writers in Prison Committee, Marion Botsford-Fraser, to look at establishing a Writers in Prison Committee in South African PEN.

South African PEN is in the process of establishing a local Writers in Prison Committee. This will enable us, among other things, to take up cases of imprisoned writers, particularly on our own continent, and to continue the work South African PEN has been doing championing freedom of expression in South Africa, a principle which is fundamental to our democracy.

More news of that to come in the new year.

There is detail about this and other important issues on South African PEN’s website and on the International Writers in Prison Committee at

But here we have something really special.

For today, the 15th of November is International Day of the Imprisoned Writer and it is an honour to be able to celebrate this day by hearing Albie Sachs, a member of South African PEN, reading from The Prison Diaries of Albie Sachs, published in 1990 by David Philip Publishers. Listen here.

15/11/10 – Margie Orford

(Image courtesy of Books LIVE)