PEN America to Honour Three Iranian Dissidents

Pen America will honour at its annual gala next month three imprisoned Iranian dissidents with the 2021 PEN/Barbey Freedom to Write Award given to artists and writers jailed for their work, Arab News report

The literary and human rights organization named writer-filmmaker Baktash Abtin, novelist-journalist Keyvan Bajan and author-critic Reza Khandan Mahabadi as this year’s recipients of the award.

They’re all serving a collective 15.5 years sentence for alleged endangering Iran’s national security and for spreading propaganda as members of the anti-censorship Iranian Writers Association.

The gala ceremony is scheduled for October 5 at the American Museum of Natural History.

PEN America CEO Suzanne Nossel stressed in a statement that Abtin, Bajan and Mahabadi are embodiments of the spirit that animates PEN America’s work offering prose and ideas on a page and serving as beacons for countless authors and thinkers.

They’re also praised for living fearlessly pushing boundaries and challenging repression under the most dangerous conditions, and for sacrificing immensely in service of the liberties that underpin free thought, art, culture, and creativity.

The Freedom to Write Award has been awarded, among others, to Russian filmmaker Oleg Sentsov and the Chinese writer-activist Xu Zhiyong.

Since its foundation in 1922, New York City-based PEN America’s mission is to unite writers and their allies to advance literature, defend free expression and the liberties that make it possible and to foster international literary fellowship.

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