PEN Greetings: write to a writer at risk

PEN's annual initiative encourages members and supporters to send messages to writers at risk around the world and their families

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Every year, our colleagues at PEN International compile a list of writers at risk and their families to whom members are encouraged to send seasonal greetings. Past recipients have told us about how these cards can provide much-needed moral support, and a crucial reminder that they have not been forgotten; others have told of how they were afforded better treatment by prison guards as a result of cards flooding in from all over the world.

Ten years of my life have just passed behind bars… Coming back into the light after these ten long years in darkness has not been easy. The changes I see all round me are truly astonishing. The pace of life is overwhelming. But the hardest thing for me is to know that even though I am walking free, many other friends and colleagues still remain behind bars.

So in the midst of my wonder…I would like to speak on behalf of all whose rights and freedoms have been deprived.

This is what PEN did for me, by championing my cause. This is what you are doing for so many poets and writers in the world. When I suffered in prison, your compassion sustained me; all through those dark years, your sincere support encouraged me. You are an example of advocacy to people of goodwill everywhere.

Mahvash Sabet, poet and winner of the PEN Pinter Prize for an International Writer of Courage 2017

Among the writers we’re asking supporters to send cards to are blogger Raif Badawi and his lawyer Waleed Abulkhair, imprisoned in Saudi Arabia; our former writer-in-residence Ahmet Şık and fellow journalist Zehra Doğan, currently detained in Turkey; and many other fellow writers from Australia to China, from Eritrea to Uzbekistan.

We also hope that many of you will continue to send cards and messages of support to your chosen writer throughout 2018 and beyond – and if you’re not already a member of English PEN, please consider joining today and supporting our work defending the freedom to write and the freedom to read all year round.

Please email cat@englishpen.org and robert@englishpen.org to request this year’s Season’s Greetings list.

The list contains details of writers at risk, alongside addresses  and instructions regarding what to send. We recommend that you include a return address but if you would prefer to use English PEN’s office address please do: Writers at Risk Programme, English PEN, Free Word Centre, 60 Farringdon Road, London, EC1R 3GA.

We ask that you please do not to publish the list as it contains personal addresses, but we very much encourage you to share photos of any cards you send (before adding the address) on social media with the hashtags #PENgreetings and #imprisonedwriter and tagging @englishpen

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