Each year, on 15 November PEN International, PEN Centres and PEN members from around the world commemorate the Day of the Imprisoned Writer to highlight and campaign on behalf of writers who face unjust imprisonment, attacks, harassment and violence simply for their free expression work.
Started in 1981 by PEN International’s Writers in Prison Committee, the day is marked by promoting literary culture, celebrating the freedom to write, and taking action to call for justice and freedom for imprisoned and murdered colleagues.
In addition to increasing the public’s awareness of persecuted writers in general, PEN uses the Day of the Imprisoned Writer to direct attention to several specific persecuted or imprisoned writers and their individual circumstances. Each of the selected writers is from a different part of the world, and each case represents circumstances of repression that occur when governments or other entities in power feel threatened by what writers have written. On this day, the general public is encouraged to take action—in the form of donations and letters of appeal—on behalf of the selected writers.
The day also serves to commemorate all of the writers killed since the previous year’s Day of the Imprisoned Writer.