Gothenburg Commemorates ‘Day of the Imprisoned Writer’


Representatives of different organizations in Gothenburg and Gothenburgers gathered at the City Library to commemorate the ‘Day of the Imprisoned Writer’ – 15 November – and extended solidarity to all those writers, publishers and journalists who are arrested in different countries.

PEN Sweden chose the occasion to highlight the plight of Gui Minhai the Swedish writer and publisher arrested in China and panellists discussed about imprisoned writers. In the panel discussion were Angela Gui the daughter of Gui Minhai, Frederik Fällman from University of Gothenburg, Axel Kronholm the journalist, and Frida Edman from Gothenburg Book Fair and the discussion was moderated by Oskar Ekström from Gothenburg Book Fair. Anna Mattsson, Writer and Board Member of PEN Sweden and Kristin Bjarnadottir, Chairman of Writers’ Centre West were also present.

Angela Gui recalled about her father’s imprisonment in China and read out excerpts from his writings.

Each year, on 15 November, PEN International, PEN Centres and PEN members commemorate the day to highlight and campaign on behalf of writers who are subjected to unjust imprisonment, attacks, harassment and violence for expression.

Observing 15 November as the ‘Day of Imprisoned Writer’ was started in 1981. According to PEN International, since 15 November 2015, at least 35 writers have been killed worldwide for expressing their views.

“Writers should be writing when they want to write. They should not be in prison. And yet, around the world, hundreds of writers are in jail today, and many more face intimidation and persecution because what they express upsets the authorities, offends the powerful, and unnerves governments. Writers are the conscience-keepers of society; they must remain free – their place is not in prison, but with pen and paper, with typewriters, with their keyboards.  And on this day, every year, the entire PEN community says in one voice that we will continue to fight for freedom for any writer, anywhere in the world, who is prevented from doing his or her work.” – Salil Tripathi, Chair of PEN International’s Writers in Prison Committee

PEN International is campaigning on behalf of Ahmed Naji (Egypt), Ash Erodgan (Turkey), Ceasrio Alejandro Felix Padilla (Honduras), Daren Tatour (Israel) and for Gui Minhai (the Swedish citizen in Chinese custody).

Peter Nässén from Amnesty Sweden suggested the panellists and those present in the audience that the Internatoinal Office of the City of Gothenburg should establish a contact with the Chinese authorities for the release of Gui Minhai. He expressed apprehensions because of Chinese investments in Gothenburg.

A Swedish citizen from erstwhile Yugoslovia demanded the pannelists why it is not discussed about American wars but Axel Kronholm the journalist told him that the occasion was to talk about imprisoned writers in the world.

You may also want to read: PEN Sweden and Others Appeal to Chinese President Xi Jinping for the Release of Imprisoned Gui Minhai the Swedish Writer and Publisher