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SKeyes Center for Media and Cultural Freedom - Samir Kassir Foundation

Freedom to Write Index 2021

Source PEN America
Friday , 15 April 2022
Photo credit: Olemissus Zhang
Myanmar—where an elected civilian government was unseated in a military coup on February 1, 2021—joined China and Saudi Arabia as the top jailers of writers and public intellectuals in the world during 2021 in PEN America’s annual census of detained writers, the Freedom to Write Index. The literary and free expression group found that in 2021, at least 277 writers, academics, and public intellectuals in 36 countries—in all geographic regions of the world—were unjustly imprisoned or held in detention in connection with their writing or other exercise of free expression. This was a slight increase from 2020, when 273 individuals were counted behind bars, but the past two years, covering the period of the COVID-19 pandemic, both represent a significant increase from 2019, when the Freedom to Write Index documented just 238 cases. Publishing its third edition of the annual census, PEN America found that over half of these 277 writers were also jailed during both 2019 and 2020, and nearly one-fifth—at least 62 writers and public intellectuals—were serving sentences of 10 or more years in prison.

Read the full report.

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