The Day of the Imprisoned Writer, on Nov. 15, is intended to recognise and support writers who resist repression of the basic human right to freedom of expression and who stand up to attacks made against their right to impart information. It was started in 1981 by PEN International’s Writers in Prison Committee.
In addition to increasing public awareness of persecuted writers in general, PEN uses the Day of the Imprisoned Writer to direct attention to several specific persecuted or imprisoned writers and their individual circumstances.
Each of the selected writers is from a different part of the world, and each case represents circumstances of repression that occur when governments or other entities in power feel threatened by what writers have written.
On this day, the general public is encouraged to take action—in the form of donations and letters of appeal—on behalf of the selected writers.
The day also serves to commemorate all of the writers killed since the previous year’s Day of the Imprisoned Writer. Between November 15, 2007 and November 15, 2008, at least 39 writers from around the world were killed in circumstances that appeared to be related to their professions.