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 Jane Archer: janearcher22 [at] yahoo.co.uk

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

From Perth to Pune

Scottish PEN travelled to Pune in September for the 84th PEN International Congress. This is a report of the event written by Scottish PEN trustee, Jane Archer.

November 30, 2018

Marking a day that shouldn’t need to exist

The Day of the Imprisoned Writer shouldn’t need to exist because writers should be free to express themselves free from the threats of censorship, imprisonment or violence. Nik Williams marks the day with a call to action to protect writers across the globe.

November 15, 2018

Interview: Behrouz Boochani

In honour of the Day of the Imprisoned Writer, here is an interview by Arnold Zable with Kurdish-Iranian journalist and writer, Behrouz Boochani who has been detained on Manus Island.

November 15, 2018

Free Expression in Malta: 2018 PEN Congress Resolution

Here is the resolution put forward by PEN Netherlands and Scottish PEN about the state of free expression in Malta at the 84th PEN International Congress in Pune, India, September 2018

October 16, 2018

What's On

Scottish PEN @ StAnza

11 Mar

18:30 — 19:00

Byre Theatre – Studio Theatre, Abbey Street, St Andrews, Fife, KY16 9LA

Vigil for Daphne Caruana Galizia

16 Apr

14:00 — 15:00

Outside Scottish Parliament, Scottish Parliament, Edinburgh, EH99 1SP

Shilpa Gupta and Salil Tripathi in conversation

27 Jul

10:00 — 11:00

Institut Français d’Écosse , West Parliament Square, Edinburgh, EH1 1RF

EIBF: Freedom Debate: Commonwealth (The Legacy of Empire)

13 Aug

19:30 — 21:00

Garden Theatre, Charlotte Square Gardens