On 14 September, representatives from over 60 PEN Centres convened for its annual Writers in Prison Committee (WIPC) meeting. The meeting drew attention to the critical situation in Afghanistan, where the Taliban’s recent takeover means that Afghan writers, activists, and cultural practitioners—especially women—face imminent danger.
The Asia-Pacific features the highest number of cases of writers who have been harassed, on trial, imprisoned, or killed with impunity in the recent 2020 PEN International Case List.
It might surprise many of out readers to learn that an Australian writer, blogger and academic, has been held in China since January 2019, charged with espionage, and pronounced guilty after a brief and perfunctory trial in a closed courtroom.
Myanmar’s plight is the most brutal in recent memory. The military has committed mass atrocities against civilians since February. Over 4000 arrests and 800 deaths have been reported (Association of Political Prisoners, 2021). The United Nations estimates that over 6 million people are in urgent need of food aid. This crisis has further exacerbated the systematic dismantling of free expression. […]