In November, Ashraf Fayadh was sentenced to death in Saudi Arabia. His crime: writing poetry. Fayadh and thousands of writers around the world have been targeted by their government—arrested, tortured, and killed in an attempt to silence them. We call attention to their cases, speaking out when they cannot, because PEN stands for free expression for everyone, everywhere.
When governments suppress the free exchange of ideas, or stifle the voices of opposition—or sentence poets to death for “apostasy”—we can do more than protest. We are free to lend our voices in the service of writers who’ve been silenced, speaking their words and using PEN’s international network to make sure their voices continue to be heard.
LEND ASHRAF YOUR VOICE
We need your voice to help us unsilence Ashraf. Here's how:
- Record a video of yourself reading one of Ashraf’s poems.
- Share that video to your online networks of friends, family, and colleagues using the hashtag #FreeAshraf.
- If you are unable to record a video, you can still take part by following us on Twitter or Facebook, sharing any updates and videos, and urging others to do the same.
- Become an ambassador for free expression: Join PEN.
Together, using only our laptops or the phones in our pockets, we’ll create a living document of Ashraf’s words, and undo the silencing intended by his inhumane and indefensible sentencing.
Read and record, and keep his words alive.
More About Ashraf Fayadh
Ashraf Fayadh is a Palestinian poet, artist, and curator imprisoned in Saudi Arabia and facing 800 lashes on the charge of apostasy. The charges against him stem from complaints relating to supposed atheistic and blasphemous themes in his poetry collection Instructions Within, as well as a personal altercation with a man who reported him to Saudi Arabia’s religious authorities. Fayadh’s poems are ruminations about his life as a Palestinian refugee, as well as cultural and philosophical issues. The court case against him has dragged on for nearly two years, and, though his death sentence was commuted on appeal, he remains imprisoned and facing 800 lashes simply for exercising his fundamental human right to free expression.