Category Archives: Campaigns

PENWrites: Amanuel Asrat & PEN Belarus

(This message comes from English PEN. With thanks to Cat Lucas.)


‘I’m stuck where to start. I’m also anxious that I’m knowingly writing you a letter you cannot receive or respond to. I hope that, one day, though you may be the last person to do so, you will read it.’

– Yirgalem Fisseha Mebrahtu for PEN Transmissions

Today, 26 July 2021, is the 50th birthday of Eritrean poet and editor Amanuel Asrat, the first featured writer of our PENWrites campaign. One of PEN’s longest-standing cases of concern, Amanuel remains imprisoned and incommunicado in Eritrea, nearly 20 years after he was first arrested.

To mark the day, we have featured a piece by award-winning writer and PEN Eritrea member Yirgalem Fisseha Mebrahtu on our online magazine, PEN Transmissions. Please do read and share this very moving piece. 


Website: https://www.englishpen.org/posts/campaigns/eritrea-amanuel-asrats-50th-birthday/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/englishpen/status/1419645310041722884
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/englishpen_/?hl=en

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/englishpenofficial/

We continue to gather messages of solidarity for Amanuel’s family to show them that he has not been – and will not be – forgotten. Please do send a message if you can, and help spread the word.

Gulmira Imin Statement

It is apparent that Gulmira Imin was tried and condemned on the basis of her Uhyghur nationality and that her confession was made under duress. Irish PEN calls for her immediate release and the release of all detainees in China arrested for exercising their right to protest and the restoration of freedom of expression

Read more about Gulmira Imin’s case here

Summary of Irish PEN Campaigns and Statements, April-June 2021

On 28th April, Poetry Day Ireland, a team of Board members tweeted extracts from work by poets from Myanmar at regular intervals throughout the day.

Since our last newsletter we have issued statements in response to the shocking rendition of journalist and blogger Roman Protasevich and student Sofia Sapega in Belarus and sent messages of support to our colleagues in PEN Belarus.

“Irish PEN/PEN n hÉireann utterly condemns the actions of the Belarus Administration in forcing the diversion of a Ryanair flight for the purpose of extracting and holding a journalist and his companion.”

We also issued a statement against the online harrassment of journalists on Social Media, quoted by Martina Devlin in her Irish Independent column on Saturday 15th May: “Irish PEN unreservedly condemns online attacks on journalists, which have real and damaging effects on writer’s ability to work and speak freely. Such attacks represent a direct threat to freedoms of thought and speech and by extension, to democracy itself.”

In this context, we’d like to draw your attention to Julie Posetti’s UNESCO document on violence/harassment against female journalists: The Chilling

and to The English PEN paper on Online Harms:

On 20th May 2021, we joined 49 other PEN Centres in a statement calling for the release of Osman Kavala .

Our co-operation with PEN Centres in England, Scotland and Wales continues, with exchanges of news and ideas and some co-operative actions, along with plans for future joint projects.

Our Freedom to Write sub-committee has joined the TURKEY ACTION GROUP. A representative attended the first meeting of this group which was both deeply interesting, as we learned of the work of other Centres, and alarming as we heard of the further erosion of rights in Turkey.

Members of the Board attended the Writers for Peace conference via Zoom, 9-11 June.