IBPA Supports PEN America's Highlighting the Detention of Writers and Advocating for Their Freedom
Thursday, May 21, 2020
Posted by: Lee Wind
(Manhattan Beach, CA - May 20, 2020) – The publication of PEN America's Freedom to Write Index 2019 is both a rallying cry and opportunity to recognize the vitally important role independent publishers play in society, both in the U.S. and globally.
As PEN America states in their introduction to the report, “...brave individuals who speak out, challenge tyranny, and make the intellectual case for freedom are on the front line of the battle to keep societies open, defend the truth, and resist repression. Writers and intellectuals are often among the canaries in the coal mine who, alongside journalists and human rights activists, are first targeted when a country takes a more authoritarian turn. The unjust detention and imprisonment of writers and intellectuals impacts both the individuals themselves and the broader public, who are deprived of innovative and influential voices of dissent, criticism, creativity, and conscience. For this reason, the targeting of writers and public intellectuals for exercising their freedom of expression should be a source of grave concern to all.”
The index shows that in 2019, “...at least 238 writers and public intellectuals were in prison or held in detention unjustly in connection with their writing.”
IBPA members are encouraged to stay informed and join PEN America's efforts to advocate for the Freedom to Write.
PEN America writes, “for free expression to flourish, writers and readers everywhere must rise to the challenge of defending it, for all people." Publishers can play an important role in the flourishing and defending of free expression as well. IBPA urges our members to consider the power of their own publishing programs.
In the words of IBPA member Leslie Turner of Encourage Books, “This report includes compelling individual stories that remind publishers why our unique ability to give voice to the voiceless is so vital.”