Day of the Imprisoned Writer: 15 November 2007

Each year, International PEN monitors around 1,000 attacks against writers, journalists, poets, publishers and editors world wide. These range from persistent harassment and threats through to long prison sentences and even killings. The past year has been no different with hundreds of writers and journalists detained, and over 40 killed in the practice of their professions. 

Once a year, on 15 November, PEN stages its Day of the Imprisoned Writer where its membership of writers use their combined force to work towards change.

The following four cases from Cuba, Uzbekistan, Gambia and Iran have been selected for the focus of 2007’s Day of the Imprisoned Writer:


Normando Hernández González

The Cuban journalist Normando Hernández González, was imprisoned under the crackdown on dissidents in 2003. He is serving a 25-year sentence for ‘endangering the state’s independence and territorial integrity’ for criticising the government on Cubanet and Radio Martí. Poor prison conditions and maltreatment led to a rapid deterioration of his health earlier this year. Following appeals from English PEN and other organizations, he was transferred to a military hospital in September. Hernández is an honorary member of PEN America and English PEN and was the recipient of the 2007 American PEN/Barbara Goldsmith Freedom to Write Award.

To read more about González’s case and the plight of other Cuban journalists click here and here

To read poems by González click here


Jamshid Karimov

Jamshid Karimov, the Uzbek journalist and nephew of Preisdent Karimov, has been held in psychiatric detention for over a year. He is known for being an outspoken critic of the government and for reporting on socio-political issues in independent journals and web sites. In September 2006 he went missing and was eventually found in a psychiatric hospital. The Uzbek authorities have apparently refused to give the reasons for holding him. PEN is deeply concerned that psychiatric detention is being used to punish the independent journalist for criticising the government and reporting on human rights abuses.

For more information on Karimov’s case click here and here

To see English PEN’s open letter to President Karimov click here

Fatou Jaw Manneh


The Gambian journalist Fatou Jaw Manneh is currently on trial and facing a heavy sentence on charges of sedition for her articles criticising the Gambian president. Manneh, a US-based contributor to the website and a former reporter for the Gambian independent newspaper Daily Observer, was arrested on her arrival in Banjul in March 2007. Her trial has been continually delayed prompting speculation that the state lacks evidence for the prosecution. PEN believes that the criminal charges faced by Manneh are a violation of her right to freedom of expression guaranteed by the Gambian Constitution and international human rights treaties.

For more information on Manneh’s case click here

 Yaghoub Yadali


The Iranian novelist Yaghoub Yadali is currently serving a one year sentence on charges of ‘insulting in order to agitate the general public’. Yadali was convicted for his fictional characterisation of the Lor ethnic minority although he is himself a member of the Lor community and is an award-winning writer in the region. Since his arrest Yadali has been banned from publishing, his books have been withdrawn from the market and he has been dismissed from his job. English PEN is deeply concerned that Yadali is sentenced in violation of his right to freedom of expression, and calls for his conviction to be dropped in accordance with Article 19 of the United Nations International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Iran is a signatory.


Originally posted with the url:

About English PEN staff

This content is published by the English PEN staff.

View all posts by English PEN staff →

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *