In the past year, the Writers in Prison Committee (WiPC) of International PEN has monitored the cases of more than 1,000 writers and journalists in 90 countries, 200 of whom are serving long prison sentences, and the rest of whom have been detained, summoned to court, threatened, harassed or attacked.
Since November 15, 2007, 31 of these writers have been killed, many clearly for practicing their professions, others in murkier circumstances.
Each November 15, PEN marks the Day of the Imprisoned Writer by calling attention to writers around the world suffering persecution for exercising their right to freedom of expression.
This year, PEN is focusing on five writers from five different regions of the world. PEN invites its members and friends around the world to send appeals on their behalf. Go here to read more about what you can do.
This year's Day of the Imprisoned Writer will focus on five priority cases:
Azerbaijan: Eynullah Fatullayev
Journalist serving an eight-and-a-half-year prison term for his political commentary and investigations into the murder of a fellow journalist.
China: Tsering Woeser
Tibetan writer and poet who writes in Chinese and has suffered repeated and sustained harassment for her writings on Tibet since 2004.
Iran: Mohammad Sadiq Kabudvand
Journalist and Kurdish rights activist serving an 11-year prison sentence.
Peru: Melissa Rocío Patiño Hinostroza
A student and poet currently on trial for alleged links to a terrorist organization, despite a lack of evidence.
Zimbabwe: Writers, Cast and Crew of The Crocodile of Zambezi
A play that has been banned and led to actors and crew being beaten, and the playwrights threatened.
In other Freedom to Write news, Larry Siems has an excellent post about Tariq Ramadan and his ideological exclusion from the US over at the ACLU blog.
Thursday update: PEN USA is sponsoring a candlelight vigil in Los Angeles to commemorate the day and raise awareness about these and other persecuted writers.