Eritrean PEN Centre in Exile

In response to the dire freedom of expression situation and the extremely repressive political climate in Eritrea, Eritrean journalists in exile set up PEN Eritrea in 2014  in order to connect this inaccessible country and the outside world, and to campaign on behalf of the country’s imprisoned journalists, many of whom have been jailed for more than a decade without contact with their families. One such example is journalist and poet Amanuel Asrat, who was awarded the Oxfam Novib/PEN award in 2016. The Centre aims to serve as an umbrella for widely dispersed Eritrean writers and journalists who have been targeted by the Eritrean government for their writings.

The Centre has provided a space for Eritrean writers in exile to express themselves and report on Eritrea, by publishing articles on their website and in collaboration with media such as the Guardian, which published this piece by PEN Eritrea Executive Director Abraham T Zere in August 2015. PEN Eritrea’s website features numerous articles by displaced writers within their membership, including a piece by Eritrean Filmmaker Tesfit Abraha, speaking out about state repression and an article by a member in exile in Egypt about the publication of a book of poetry by an Eritrean poet, also exiled in Egypt.

The Centre has also helped secured some protection for exiled writers and journalists through placements with ICORN. For more information, read a recent interview with Centre Director here.

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