Writers at Risk

The Writers at Risk Committee is PEN’s watchdog. We campaign for imprisoned and persecuted writers all over the world, people who are punished for saying what they think.

You Can Help

Professor Bashabi Fraser organises our Rapid Action Network, sending out alerts and calls for action in support of writers under threat. Contact her at B.Fraser@napier.ac.uk

The Writers at Risk Committee also fights to maintain freedom of expression in our own country. People take it for granted in the affluent West, but our rights are constantly being eroded – by government, through repressive laws and covert surveillance, and by self-censorship in the media, usually for economic reasons.

As well as writing letters to governments and embassies and campaigning for freedom of expression, we take part in events to publicise these issues.

If you would like to help us in our work, please contact Jean Rafferty at jeanrafferty.fireopal@btopenworld.com.


Writers we represent

Ashraf Fayadh

Palestinian poet arrested for accusations of apostasy in Saudi Arabia.

Raif Badawi

Saudi Arabian blogger imprisoned and sentenced to 1000 lashings for insulting Islam.

Ragip Zarakolu

Turkish writer living in exile after writing about atrocities against Armenian and Kurdish people.

Liu Xiaobo

Chinese writer imprisoned for 11 years for criticising single-party government.

Lydia Cacho

Mexican journalist targeted for exposing paedophile rings, human trafficking, and political corruption.

Causes we fight

Ali Mohammed al-Nimr

Ali Mohammed al-Nimr is a 21 year old man sentenced to death for alleged crimes committed when he was 17. This is against international conventions that Saudi Arabia itself has signed.

Turkey’s State of Emergency

Scottish PEN’s own letter protesting about the situation was handed into the Turkish consulate in Edinburgh on Tuesday 15th November. It was signed by many of Scotland’s best known writers and publishers, including Ian Rankin, Val McDermid, Alexander McCall Smith.

Latest news from this campaign

The “Freedom for Freedom of Expression” Rally, Istanbul 1997

James Kelman looks at the recent history of the Kurdish people’s oppression by Turkey and complicit European nations.

January 27, 2017

Literary freedom and human rights

James Kelman argues that if we are to defend writers in exile, we should look at how people are also censored and marginalised inside the UK.

January 27, 2017

Em hene! (We Exist!)

James Kelman argues that if we are to support Kurdish writers, we should demand proper media coverage and fully engage with their political cause.

January 27, 2017

Some thoughts on Artists and Injustice

A previously unpublished essay by James Kelman on the relationship between artists, the working class, and fighting injustice.

January 27, 2017