German PEN Center
PEN, made up of the 3 initials for Poets, Essayists, and Novelists, is a well-known international association of writers organised in 140 Centers worldwide. Founded in England in the early 1920s as a literary circle of friends, P.E.N. has spread to many countries around the globe and has long established itself as a voice speaking out for persecuted and suppressed writers and as a defender of the right to freedom of speech.
The Writers-in-Exile Programme of the German PEN Center provides grants for writers who face persecution in their home countries. The German government finances this special programme. The Writers-in-Prison-Committee of International PEN was set up in 1960 as a result of mounting concern about attempts in an increasing number of countries around the world to silence critical voices through the harassment and imprisonment of writers. The Committee works on behalf of all writers, publishers, editors, and journalists who are detained or otherwise persecuted for their opinions expressed in writing and on behalf of those under attack for their peaceful political activities or for the practice of their profession, provided that they did not use violence or advocate violence or racial hatred, or in any other way violate the Charter of International PEN.
Membership in the organisation is restricted to those representatives of the profession who, on the basis of outstanding literary achievement, have been invited to join any of the existing national PEN Centers and who, with their signature to the Charter, attest to the principles of PEN.