In addition to our advocacy for individual writers under threat, PEN American Center is leading or partnering in several large-scale initiatives to protect free of expression and promote fundamental rights in the United States and around the world. Follow the links below to learn more about these initiatives and how you can be part of these important efforts.
Despite promises to improve its human rights record, the climate for freedom of expression in China has steadily declined. The 2010 Nobel Peace Prize Laureate, former Independent Chinese PEN Center President Liu Xiaobo, is one of dozens serving heavy prison sentences. Even a tweet can now get a citizen detained. Still, writers continue to write, and Chinese citizens continue to become more and more emboldened in their criticism of government malfeasance. While pressure comes from above to clamp down on dissent, citizens build pressure from below. Stand with them in their struggle. More »
Reckoning With Torture is an innovative performance and film project that raises awareness of the treatment of detainees in U.S. custody following the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks and recognizes the critical role that many American servicewomen and men played in challenging the torture program. The Reckoning script is comprised of the voices of military personnel and public servants who rejected mistreatment of detainees: those who reported abuse, refused to participate in it, or advocated for the repeal of unlawful interrogation directives. Join us in raising your voice against torture. More »
Mexico is one of the most dangerous countries in the world for writers. Since 2000, over 80 journalists, bloggers, and other writers have been murdered and another 15 have disappeared. Few of these crimes have been properly investigated and fewer still have brought prosecutions and convictions. Despite mounting domestic and international pressure, the rate of killings accelerated in 2012. PEN is committed to ending this “censorship by bullet” in Mexico—and restoring the right of all Mexico’s citizens to a free and open exchange of information and ideas. Take action to end the impunity for crimes against writers and journalists in Mexico. More »
Advocacy at the United Nations and Other Intergovernmental Organizations
In partnership with PEN International and PEN centers around the world, we engage with the human rights mechanisms of the United Nations, the European Union, the Organization of American States, and other IGOs to support imprisoned and threatened writers. Our work with institutions such as the United Nations Human Rights Council allows us to create a vital human rights record—a critical foundation for activists and writers under threat to advance their claims—and to increase international pressure on governments to end abuses and protect the right of all to freedom of expression.
Strengthening PEN Centers Around the Globe
As the largest of the 144 PEN centers in 100 countries, PEN partners with other centers that are working to build a vital PEN presence on the ground in every region of the world. PEN is currently working with South African PEN and PEN Haiti to support their programming to expand the freedom to write, promote literature, and foster literary exchanges that bring new voices together with new audiences in their own countries and around the world.
Over two-thirds of the imprisoned and threatened writers on PEN’s case list are under threat for what they have written or blogged online. In response to this growing threat, PEN worked with thought leaders on four continents to develop the PEN Declaration on Digital Freedom, a concise statement of principles to guide governments and the private sector to protect freedom of expression and privacy online. We’re currently rolling out this important tool to PEN centers around the world.