Season’s Greetings 2013

Liu Xiaobo postcards

PEN runs an annual Season’s Greetings initiative, encouraging our members and supporters to send messages of support to writers at risk and their families. Pledge to send a card today

As many of you will remember from previous years, every year our colleagues at PEN International produce a list of writers at risk and their families to whom PEN members are encouraged to send seasonal greetings. Many writers who have received these cards, including the winner of the 2013 PEN/Pinter Prize Iryna Khalip, have told us how much it meant to them to be remembered by their colleagues in this way.

‘When I was in prison and then under house arrest and was held incommunicado I didn’t know that hundreds of letters and postcards in support and solidarity were mailed to me. Only later I read them all, a big pile of letters almost all of which began with the words: «I learned from English PEN that you are under house arrest. I want you to know that we are here in England express our solidarity and pray for you». Some people sent me books and always there was a postcard mentioning English PEN. I don’t know what it was — an action or a part of a campaign to support writers in prison… I know for sure that when I got a suspended two-year sentence and my husband got five year term in prison, our son was only four at that time, those letters and postcards post-stamped in Great Britain helped me a lot. I still keep these letters and will keep them forever. And the gratitude to the English PEN will forever be in my heart.’

This year, we’d love for all of our members and supporters to get involved. Help PEN send a strong message to colleagues all over the world that they have not and will not be forgotten, by pledging to send a card today. Please email cat@englishpen.org to request the case list for 2013-2014.

Guidelines:

  • Please do not circulate or publish the list of writers at risk as it contains personal addresses of a number or writers and their families
  • You may wish to send cards or emails to all those on the list or you might decide to focus on a particular region, country or case – it is entirely up to you. All we ask is that you let us know who you decide to write to for our records
  • As our cases of concern represent a variety of religious faiths, it is strongly advised that you do not send cards with overtly religious symbolism or messages. Instead, we recommend that you send general greetings or tourist cards from your town, the more colourful the better
  • Please include a return address (you can use the English PEN office address if you prefer) so that if the writer is able to reply they can do so. If you do receive a response, please do let us know and ideally send us a copy
  • Should you wish to write to a particular country but are worried by language limitations, please visit our Translated Greetings page. There you will find a brief message translated into Azerbaijani,  French, Mandarin, Russian, Spanish, Turkish, and Uzbek which you may choose to include alongside your own message where appropriate

If you have any queries about the initiative please email cat@englishpen.org.

Many thanks and very best wishes to you all for 2014.

About Cat Lucas

Cat Lucas is English PEN's Writers at Risk Programme Manager

View all posts by Cat Lucas →

2 Comments on “Season’s Greetings 2013”

  1. A touching note from one of our supporters, explaining why they take part in this initiative each year:

    “Every year, around this time, the charity English PEN encourages its members to send a card to various writers and activists imprisoned in different parts of the world. I find the whole process very moving – from sourcing the specifically pretty (and yet politically neutral) notecards which will hopefully bring some colour and a sense of life outside the four walls, to writing a personal message to someone I’ve never met and who lives a completely different reality to mine, to stamping and sending off an envelope to a far-away place, with the hope that it reaches its intended recipient and doesn’t get discarded in an inefficient postal system or withheld by some petty prison bureaucrat. It’s not much but it feels significant to me.”

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