International Campaigns

Every year, hundreds of writers and other literary professionals around the world are imprisoned, prosecuted, persecuted, attacked, threatened, forced into exile or even murdered as a result of their work. Through English PEN’s International Campaigns, we seek to defend and support these writers and their families, to pressurise governments where the right to freedom of expression is under attack, and to help bring about the necessary changes to make the freedom to write a reality around the world.

English PEN’s International Campaigns are led by the Writers at Risk Committee (formerly the Writers in Prison Committee), founded in 1960 and now one of the world’s longest running campaigns for free expression. The work is co-ordinated by our office-based Campaigns Team and informed by the research of our colleagues at PEN International.

Our Current Work

Turkey Focus

In 2013-14 we will be running a series of events, publications and literary campaigns on Turkey.  [More].

Vietnam Focus

In 2013-14 we will also be campaigning for greater freedom of expression in Vietnam. [latest]

Priosn Poetry from Cameroon

A literary campaigning project on behalf of imprisoned Cameroonian poet Enoh Meyomesse. [Read more]

Previous Campaigns

Poems for Pussy Riot

A collaborative literary campaigning project on behalf of formerly imprisoned members of Russian punk group Pussy Riot. [read more]

To coincide with the China market focus at the London Book Fair, English PEN hosted the ‘China Inside Out’ festival [read more].

To celebrate the 50th anniversary of our Writers in Prison Committee, we collaborated with Index on Censorship on a special edition of their award-winning magazine. [read more]

As part of the PEN International Freedom to Write in the Americas campaign, we produced a briefing on Free Expression in Cuba. [read more]

Take Action

Join the Rapid Action Network

Members of the Network receive bulletins containing urgent calls to action on behalf of writers around the world. Distributed by email, each message contains details of the case and a sample letter of appeal to the relevant authorities. To join the Rapid Action Network, please click here.

Write to a Writer in Prison:

Our letter writing programme pairs a UK member with a threatened writer overseas. This long-term and highly personal casework can provide much needed moral support, whilst serving as a non-confrontational reminder to the authorities that the individual has not been forgotten.

Get involved in our Books to Prisoners Programme:

Publishers, literary critics, and any PEN members who are able to commit to donating books on a regular, ongoing basis are invited to join our Books to Prisoners Programme.

Attend our events and demonstrations:

We organise a variety of events – fundraisers, vigils, film screenings, panel discussions, book launches – to raise awareness of our cases of concern and the funds to support them.

If you are interested in getting involved in our work, please email