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Today Is the Day of the Imprisioned Writer

PEN is once again asking us to remember those being censored for writing:

The Writers in Prison Committee of International PEN is marking the 26th Writers in Prison Day 2006 with a campaign in defense of nearly 100 writers and journalists around the world who are in prison or facing custodial sentences for alleged defamation or “insult.” It calls for the repeal of laws that treat defamation as a criminal rather than a civil offense and argues that the term “insult” is too vague to have any legal standing as a charge and should thus be scrapped from penal codes entirely.

According to PEN, 37 writers and journalists have been killed since November 15, 2005; the worst countries for writers are Iraq, Pakistan, Philippines, Sri Lanka, and Russia. Five current cases are being highlighted to remind everyone of the immediacy of this issue–writers either in prison or being prosecuted in China, Egypt, Ethiopia, Mexico, and Turkey. More details after the jump.

Turkey: Hrant Dink. Editor of an Armenian language newspaper sentenced to a six-month suspended term and two other cases still pending on charges of insult.

Ethiopia: Wesenseged Gebrekidan. Journalist serving a total of two years in prison on defamation charges and facing further trials.

Mexico: Lydia Cacho. Writer on trial for defamation and under attack for her book on child pornography and prostitution.

China: Yang Xiaoqing. Internet journalist sentenced to a year in prison on extortion charges that are believed to be in retaliation for posting “defamatory” articles on local corruption.

Egypt: two journalists, Ibrahim Issa and Sahar Zaki. Each are sentenced to one year in prison for articles “insulting” the Egyptian President.

    You can donate to PEN’s Freedom to Write program here. It’s tax-deductible and a great cause.