Category Archives: PEN International News

Jennifer Clement wrote to Tienchi Martin-Liao

Dear Tienchi Martin-Liao, president of ICPC

You are well aware of how close to my heart the Independent Chinese PEN Centre is. In our troubled times, it is a sign of hope that you are meeting in Hong Kong to celebrate the centenary of the May Fourth Movement. PEN benefitted from this anti-imperialist movement and its defence of Chinese culture by including the active participation of Chinese writers as early as 1924, just after our first PEN International congress in 1923.

I am moved by the “Liu Xiaobo Courage to Write Award” you will be giving at the conference. Liu Xiaobo embodies the very core values of PEN International. His sacrifice has been understood by writers around the world as the promise that sooner than later the respect for Human Rights and Freedom will come back to China.

The fate of another of your very prominent members occupies my thoughts every day. One year ago, I chaired the session of the International Publishers Association congress where the Prix Voltaire was awarded to the courageous publisher and ICPC leader Gui Minhai. The whole PEN family and very especially Swedish PEN is campaigning to denounce the terrible circumstances of his kidnapping and imprisonment and to call for his immediate liberation for him to be able to join his daughter back in Sweden.

We will not hold our back, we will not stop our actions in his defence until he is free again.

I want all members of ICPC to feel the intense solidarity of PEN Centres with your struggle for the defence of freedom of thought, expression, writing and publishing in China. At the last Congress of PEN International, celebrated in the Indian city of Pune in September last year, we campaigned to denounce the intensification of China’s crackdown on Turkic Muslims, largely Uyghurs from the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR). While there is no official data, estimates suggest at least one million Turkic Muslims have been detained en masse and without charge in political re-education camps under the pretext of countering religious extremism; forced to submit to political indoctrination and prevented from practising their religion or expressing their culture. Among their number are reported to be well-respected academics such as Rahile Dawut and Abdukerim Rahman, writers and musicians such as Chimengül Awut, Ablajan Awut Ayup and Abduqadir Jalaleddin. This is a crime that resonates in all humanity. PEN will denounce it again and again.

Two years after the May Fourth Movement, PEN International was founded in London in 1921. We will celebrate our centenary in two years, and you are all welcome to celebrate it with PEN Centres worldwide. Since 1921, we have built a global web of solidarity, translation, encounters, debates and friendships. We have also given birth to a common voice to face injustice and attacks to freedom to write. May this letter be the messenger that tells you that, in the face of repression, you will never be alone. We stand by your side.

Jennifer Clement
PEN International


PEN International: Resolution on the People’s Republic of China (2018)

 (Approved by the Assembly of Delegates of PEN International, meeting at its 84th World Congress, in Pune, India from 25-29 September 2018)

PEN International has for many years expressed concern about serious and sweeping restrictions on freedom of expression in the People’s Republic of China (PRC), including through resolutions adopted at its annual Congresses, most recently at its 83rd World Congress in September 2017. Continue reading

Open letter to Google on reported plans to launch a censored search engine in China

Dear Mr Pichai,

Like many of Google’s own employees, we are extremely concerned by reports that Google is developing a new censored search engine app for the Chinese market. The project, codenamed “Dragonfly”, would represent an alarming capitulation by Google on human rights. The Chinese government extensively violates the rights to freedom of expression and privacy; by accommodating the Chinese authorities’ repression of dissent, Google would be actively participating in those violations for millions of internet users in China. Continue reading


NEW YORK—PEN America announced today that it will honor Ukrainian writer and filmmaker Oleg Sentsov, an activist imprisoned on spurious charges in Russia, with the 2017 PEN/Barbey Freedom to Write Award at its annual Literary Gala on April 25 at the American Museum of Natural History in New York. Continue reading


NEW YORK–Hisham Matar was awarded the inaugural PEN/Jean Stein Book Award for his memoir The Return (Penguin Random House) Monday night at the PEN America Literary Awards Ceremony in a dramatic live announcement. Continue reading

World Poetry Day 2017

21 March 2017

‘Poetry – with its ancient history, its musicality, and its attention to symbol and metaphor – runs through all of us. Rooted in oral tradition, poetry is deeply connected to our collective humanity. And poetry is also a resilient and long-lasting political tool that has been used worldwide by dissident voices calling out for change. At PEN it’s impossible for us to celebrate World Poetry Day without also recognising that there are those for whom speaking out in verse has resulted in imprisonment. This year we are highlighting the cases of three such poets: Amanuel Asrat, Dareen Tatour, and Liu Xia. We urge you to take action today and to join us in appealing for justice for each of them. Details of how to speak out can be found below. Continue reading

World Poetry Day 2017 – Take Action for Liu Xia

Liu Xia, China, is a poet, artist, and founding member of the Independent Chinese PEN Centre. She has been held in her Beijing apartment without access to phones, Internet, doctors of her choice, or visitors since her husband, imprisoned poet Liu Xiaobo, was named the winner of the Nobel Peace Prize in October 2010. Continue reading

In memoriam: Predrag Matvejević

20 March 2017

Predrag Matvejević died in Zagreb on February 2, 2017. He was one of the most important and most translated writers of the Balkans. A cosmopolitan, a polyglot and a tireless activist, he worked endlessly for human rights, for peace and for dialogue among people. Continue reading