Day of the Imprisoned Writer 2019

On 15 November, the Day of the Imprisoned Writer, join English PEN and our sister centres around the world as we stand in solidarity with writers and journalists at risk and in prison

Each year, PEN highlights the cases of persecuted writers – be they imprisoned, facing prosecution or otherwise at risk – that are emblematic of the type of threats and attacks faced by writers and journalists around the world. On this day, PEN centres, members and supporters worldwide come together to take action for our colleagues and call on those responsible to end their persecution.

We are delighted that three of the writers featured in PEN’s 2018 Day of the Imprisoned Writer campaign – Wael Abbas, Shahidul Alam and Oleg Sentsov – have since been released from prison, and to be co-hosting a sold out event with Oleg at the Frontline Club a year later. We nevertheless continue to call for justice for Miroslava Breach Velducea and for the release of Dawit Isaak.

This year, PEN is highlighting the cases of:

  • Lydia Cacho – Celebrated writer, journalist and activist Lydia Cacho Ribeiro has faced continued harassment, death threats and attacks due to her investigative journalism and activism. Take action for Lydia Cacho here.
  • Stella Nyanzi – Ugandan academic, writer and activist Dr. Stella Nyanzi is currently serving an 18-month sentence for ‘cyber harassment’, in relation to a poem she wrote on Facebook in September 2018 criticising Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni (and his mother). Dr. Nyanzi has served almost 11 months of her sentence. Take action for Stella Nyanzi here.
  • Shakthika Sathkumara – Award-winning writer and poet, Shakthika Sathkumara, faces legal proceedings that could see him sentenced to up to 10 years in prison. Take action for Shakthika Sathkumara here.
  • Nedim Türfent – News editor, reporter and poet Nedim Türfent is serving an eight-year-and-nine-month prison sentence on trumped-up terrorism charges following an unfair trial, during which 19 witnesses said they had been tortured into testifying against him. Take action for him here.
  • Galal El-Behairy – Poet, lyricist and activist Galal El-Behairy is currently serving a three-year prison sentence for ‘insulting the military’ and ‘spreading false news’. He is being held in the notorious maximum-security Tora prison in Cairo. Take action for Galal El-Behairy here.

English PEN is also asking our members to send messages of support to writer Ahmet Altan following his re-arrest on 11 November 2019, just a week after his release from prison in Turkey.

Please send your messages of support to or via the form below.

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