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PEN International Day of the Imprisoned Writer campaign

November 15, 2023 IN WIP
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PEN International launches its annual Day of the Imprisoned Writer campaign, calling
for the release of writers Iryna Danylovych, María Cristina Garrido Rodríguez,

Soulaiman Raissouni and Go Sherab Gyatso

Every year on 15 November, PEN International launches its Day of the Imprisoned Writer
campaign, highlighting cases of writers who are imprisoned or facing persecution, and calling for
urgent international action to release and protect them. These cases are emblematic of the type
of threats and attacks writers and journalists around the world are often subjected to, for
peacefully exercising their right to freedom of expression.
This year, PEN International will call for urgent international action to release and protect Iryna
Danylovych (Ukraine/occupied Crimea), María Cristina Garrido Rodríguez (Cuba),
Soulaiman Raissouni (Morocco) and Go Sherab Gyatso, also known as Gosher (China-
Tibet), and ensure that they and their families feel solidarity and support. The campaign will run
from 15 November to 22 November 2023.
"Through the Day of the Imprisoned Writer campaign, we shed light on the cases of Iryna Danylovych, María
Cristina Garrido Rodríguez, Soulaiman Raissouni, and Go Sherab Gyatso—writers imprisoned for daring to
voice their convictions. Their sacrifice underscores the global challenges writers face in upholding freedom of
expression. Together, let us rally for their release, standing as a united front against the suppression of voices and
defending the inherent right to express oneself without fear. Our collective strength is paramount in securing their
freedom and upholding the essence of free speech." Ma Thida, Chair of PEN International’s Writers in
Prison Committee

This year, PEN International is highlight the cases of:
Iryna Danylovych (Ukraine/Russian Federation)

Iryna Danylovych is a human rights defender and journalist from Ukraine/Occupied Crimea,
who exposed issues in Crimea's healthcare system. Abducted in April 2022, she was tortured and
forced into confession, charged with ‘illegal purchase, transfer, storage and transportation of
explosive substances or explosive devices’, and listed as a ‘foreign agent’ by the Ministry of
Justice of the Russian Federation, resulting in a seven-year prison sentence. She is now held in a
Russian penal colony seriously ill. PEN International believes that Iryna Danylovych is being
targeted for her journalistic and human rights work and calls for her immediate and
unconditional release. She must urgently be provided access to adequate health care.

María Cristina Garrido Rodríguez (Cuba)

María Cristina Garrido Rodríguez is a Cuban poet and activist. On 10 March 2022, she was
sentenced to seven years in prison on charges of ‘public disorder,’ ‘assault’, ‘instigation to
commit a crime’, ‘contempt,’ and ‘resistance’. This follows her arrest on 12 July 2021 for
participating, alongside her sister and thousands of Cubans, in the 11 July peaceful protests
against the repression of their fundamental rights. Currently held in Guatao Prison, she has been
subjected to solitary confinement, beatings, food and water denial, and restricted family visits, yet
continues to speak out against the Cuban authorities. In December 2021, in a letter from prison,
Garrido shared her pride in taking part in the events of 11 July, and denounced the horrors faced

by those inside Cuban prisons. PEN International calls on the Cuban authorities to immediately
and unconditionally release Garrido.

Go Sherab Gyatso (known as Gosher) (China – Tibet)

Gosher, a prominent Tibetan writer and educator, is currently serving a 10-year prison sentence
for alleged secessionist activities. He was detained in October 2020 and subsequently charged in
February 2021. Concerns exist about his health, as he was arrested while seeking medical
treatment for a lung condition. Gosher has authored over 10 books, focusing on Tibetan
Buddhism, culture, and language, while criticizing the government's impact on Tibetan
education. This marks his fourth imprisonment for speaking out against the Chinese government
restrictions on Tibetan cultural practices. PEN International calls for his immediate and
unconditional release.

Soulaiman Raissouni (Morocco)

Soulaiman Raissouni, a prominent Moroccan journalist and editor, was arrested on 22 May 2020,
on charges of 'sexual assault' and 'enforced confinement,' which he vehemently denied, alleging
political motivation. He endured almost a year of arbitrary pre-trial detention before receiving a
five-year prison sentence on 9 July 2021, after being denied his right to a fair trial. His family
reported restricted access to legal counsel, visitation, and trial hearings. Smear campaigns,
including by government-affiliated media, originally prompted Raissouni's arrest, while his wife
was also targeted for advocating his rights. PEN International believes Raissouni's conviction is
unjust, possibly due to his writings, and calls on the Moroccan authorities to release him
immediately and unconditionally, and drop all charges against him.

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People say that (writers) are pretty powerless: we don’t have an army, we don’t have a bureaucracy. But if that were true, then why would writers be arrested?... Because the spoken word is powerful.

— John Ralston Saul on the work of PEN International