baj-by.com
Belarusian Association of Journalists

Dearest

Tomorrow’s a day I’ve been looking forward to for more than two years. We haven’t had an in-person gala since 2019, and while we were overjoyed to celebrate virtually last year, nothing compares to being together, uplifting and defending the freedom to write.

Finally, that moment will come Tuesday night here in New York City. We'll be honoring illustrious luminaries like game-changing historian Professor Henry Louis Gates Jr., corporate icon Bob Iger, and courageous public health experts Mimi Hall and Gail Newel. And among our presenters, we'll have stars like acclaimed award-winning actress Jodie Foster and Nobel Laureate Wole Soyinka; actor, singer, songwriter, and playwright Lin-Manuel Miranda; and of course, our host for the evening, the award-winning actress, writer, and producer Awkwafina

We’re taking every precaution to have a festive—and safe—gathering. Now more than ever, the gala is crucial in supporting our work. Even if you can’t be there, your contribution today sends a signal: that amid these difficult, uncertain times, you feel as strongly as I do that free speech and free expression need a robust defense.
 
But among those who can’t be with us in person are our PEN/Barbey Freedom to Write Award winners—Baktash AbtinKeyvan Bajan, and Reza Khandan Mahabadi—all three of whom are currently being held in Evin Prison for bravely defending free expression and supporting their fellow writers in Iran. 


That’s a pretty damn good track record. Your support makes it possible.

In solidarity,

 

Suzanne Nossel
PEN America CEO


Dear Marina

For almost a century, imperiled writers around the world have had a stalwart ally in PEN America. And in just the last few years, including in our own country, we’ve seen an alarming increase in attacks on the freedom to write. That’s certainly been the case in Iran, where our three Freedom to Write honorees—writers Baktash Abtin, Keyvan Bajan, and Reza Khandan Mahabadi—have been imprisoned for their writings, defense of free expression and opposition to state censorship, and leadership in protecting and upholding Iran’s rich literary traditions. 
Earlier this week, we paid tribute to these three courageous writers, who remain detained in Iran’s Evin Prison, at our annual literary gala. While the evening was a joyous occasion, devoted to celebrating the freedoms that make literature and writing possible, our thoughts remain with our Freedom to Write honorees, as well as all writers who are persecuted and censored.

Will you add your name to our petition, calling on Iran to release Baktash Abtin, Keyvan Bajan, and Reza Khandan Mahabadi, and share it with your networks? Internationally renowned writers including Margaret Atwood, Behrouz Boochani, and Orhan Pamuk have already signed in solidarity. With your help, we can amplify their stories and send a clear message to dictators and authoritarian governments around the world: that as long as PEN America is still here, we won’t stand for such abuses of power. 


Thank you for helping to make our work possible. 

In solidarity,


Karin Deutsch Karlekar
Director, Free Expression at Risk Programs