Türfent among 5 journalists highlighted in PEN campaign

PEN Centres, members and supporters worldwide stand in solidarity with their colleagues and call on those responsible to end their persecution.

PEN Turkey Center and PEN International have released statements for the press on the occasion of November 15 International Day of the Imprisoned Writer, which was initiated by the PEN in 1981.

Referring to Turkey as "the prison of journalists and writers" for multiple times, PEN Turkey Center has stated the following in brief:

"When November 15 comes, among the ones who read, write and are a little bit aware of what is happening in the world, the outcries for Turkey, China, Eritrea and Russia are heard and will be heard a lot for a week in several countries of the world, in several cities, in close halls, in open squares, in front of prisons, on narrow back streets... Because November 15 is the International Day of the Imprisoned Writer.

"We are competing with China, Russia and African and Latin American countries left backward about this issue. That is why, they talk about us a lot as 'the prison of journalists and writers'."

Referring to detention, arrest and re-arrest of journalists, PEN Turkey Executive Board has also shared the poem of Haydar Ergülen "Let this be the last November 15 International Day of the Imprisoned Writer!"

On 15 November, the Day of the Imprisoned Writer, PEN International calls for urgent international action to protect writers and journalists worldwide who are increasingly targeted by state and non-state actors simply for carrying out their work.

‘Be they poets, investigative journalists, short-story writers, lyricists – writers are under siege across the world. PEN’s focus cases for this year’s Day of the Imprisoned Writer highlight continued and sinister efforts from Mexico to Egypt to Turkey to silence writers and curtail freedom of expression. It is also a day of global mobilisation to stand in solidarity with writers who have had their freedom taken away for speaking truth to power. It is a day when we say to those who target writers and journalists that we will not let them be silenced.’

Each year, PEN highlights the cases of five persecuted writers – be they imprisoned, facing prosecution or otherwise at risk – that are emblematic of the type of threats and attacks faced by writers and journalists around the world. On this day, PEN Centres, members and supporters worldwide stand in solidarity with their colleagues and call on those responsible to end their persecution. The campaign can be joined by taking action below.

This year, PEN is highlighting the cases of:

Lydia Cacho – Celebrated writer, journalist and activist Lydia Cacho Ribeiro has faced continued harassment, death threats and attacks due to her investigative journalism and activism. Take action for Lydia Cacho here.

Stella Nyanzi – Ugandan academic, writer and activist Dr. Stella Nyanzi is currently serving an 18-month sentence for ‘cyber harassment’, in relation to a poem she wrote on Facebook in September 2018 criticising Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni (and his mother). Dr. Nyanzi has served almost 11 months of her sentence. Take action for Stella Nyanzi here.

Shakthika Sathkumara - Award-winning writer and poet, Shakthika Sathkumara, faces legal proceedings that could see him sentenced to up to 10 years in prison. Take action for Shakthika Sathkumara here.

Nedim Türfent – News editor, reporter and poet Nedim Türfent is serving an eight-year-and-nine-month prison sentence on trumped-up terrorism charges following an unfair trial, during which 19 witnesses said they had been tortured into testifying against him. Take action for him here.

Galal El-Behairy – Poet, lyricist and activist Galal El-Behairy is currently serving a three-year prison sentence for ‘insulting the military’ and ‘spreading false news’. He is being held in the notorious maximum-security Tora prison in Cairo. Take action for Galal El-Behairy here.