Courage Day Commemoration (also known as International Day of the Imprisoned Writer) November 15

Join the New Zealand Society of Authors Te Puni Kaituhi o Aotearoa (PEN NZ) Inc to mark Courage Day 2021 (also known as The Day of the Imprisoned Writer) in Aotearoa, New Zealand, today – Monday 15 November – and throughout the week. Courage Day recognises writers who defend the right to free speech, and those who suffer oppression and are killed and/or imprisoned for their work.

With their Centenary this year as well as the 40th anniversary of the Day of the Imprisoned Writer campaign, PEN International highlights the cases of Mohammed Al-Roken (UAE), Rahile Dawut (China – Xinjiang), Selahattin Demirtaş (Turkey), Maykel Osorbo (Cuba), and the collective case of 12 writers imprisoned incommunicado since 2001 (Eritrea). These cases are of writers who are imprisoned or facing prosecution and call for urgent international action to release and protect them.

In Aotearoa, Courage Day provides an opportunity to raise awareness of writing, freedom of expression, and issues around the banning of books. NZSA Wellington branch will be hosting guest speaker Dominion Post Editor Anna Fifield on Monday at Vic Books Pipitea from 5.30pm. The Dom Post Editor was a foreign correspondent for international newspapers for 20 years, having also published the highly acclaimed book The Great Successor: The Secret Rise and Rule of Kim Jong-Un. She will speak about North Korea, and New Zealand and issues around international journalism. Amnesty International will also attend this event.

In Nelson, local poets will gather at Queens Gardens from 5.30pm to read works by imprisoned writers. The event is sponsored by NZSA Top of the South Branch, in association with Volume Space for Books in Nelson. All are welcome, light refreshments will be provided or bring a picnic.

Courage Day is marked annually by events in nearly all 8 NZSA branches, though this year, with lockdowns and a public health crisis, our commemoration is muted but no less heartfelt. In our community of writers, we do not take our freedoms for granted, and honour those who fight against discrimination and tyranny. NZSA Te Puni Kaituhi o Aotearoa marks all events with The Empty Chair – to signify the work of PEN and to represent writers and journalists in peril, who are silenced.

“Now, more than ever, it’s important that we support these writers and the many others who daily risk their lives to expose real corruption and human rights abuses around the globe,” said NZSA President Mandy Hager.

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