Artists At Risk Coalition


On June 22, 2016 the prominent Sufi musician Amjad Sabri was gunned down by Islamist extremists in Pakistan. In May 2016, a Japanese court found sculptor and manga artist ‘Rokudenashiko’ guilty of obscenity for her work that features female genitalia. In November 2015, Saudi Arabia sentenced Palestinian poet, artist, and curator Ashraf Fayadh to death on charges of apostasy for questioning faith in his poetry. Attacks on artists around the world are on the rise. In 2015, Freemuse registered 469 attacks on artistic freedom, ranging from killings to detentions, nearly double the number logged in 2014.

At PEN America, we believe that artists play a critical role in every society: they stimulate innovation, promote dialogue and discourse across boarders, they bear witness to inhumanity, reinvent media, articulate cultural critiques, and work with communities to effect change. That's why we created the Artists at Risk Coalition (ARC), a new project funded by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation that aims to create a global network of organizations and resources to ensure that when artists are threatened or in peril, they will have place to turn for immediate help and resources.

For more information about the project, click here.

Recent Developments

Sounding the Alarm: Threatened Artists Speak Out Against Increasing Censorship in Russia


Pressure from new Russian laws and encroachment on free expression, and the increasing hostility of religious authorities threatens the arts and culture communities of Russia.  More ›


Health of Jailed Iranian Brothers Worsens in the Face of Mistreatment and Abuse


The Rajabian brothers began their hunger strike to protest conditions at Evin prison.  More ›

Press Release

Israel: Charges Against Poet Dareen Tatour Should be Dropped


Israel: Charges Against Poet Dareen Tatour Should be Dropped More ›


August Featured Cases: Artists Under Attack


This August, PEN’S Featured Cases highlight three artists at risk, who have been harassed, arrested, fined, censored, or killed for expressing themselves and producing art for others to enjoy and experience.  More ›


PEN Concerned by Google’s Suspension of Popular Artist’s Blog


On June 27, without prior warning, Google disabled his blog and Gmail account of artist Dennis Cooper with a generic notification that he had violated Google¹s terms of service. PEN has joined Cooper’s calls for a prompt response from Google.  More ›


President Sisi: Release Ahmed Naji


More than 120 writers and artists join PEN America to protest the unjust imprisonment of our colleague, Egyptian novelist and journalist Ahmed Naji, and request his immediate release.  More ›


President Obama: Press for Release of Jailed Poet Ashraf Fayadh


We, the undersigned free expression and human rights organizations, call on you, President Obama, to push for the release of poet Ashraf Fayadh during your visit to Saudi Arabia for the Gulf Cooperation Council summit on April 21.  More ›


Kenya: Cartoonist Dismissed from Paper must be Reinstated or Compensated


News that Kenyan cartoonist Godfrey Mwampembwa (known as Gado) has been dismissed from the Nation Media Group’s Daily Nation, allegedly due to political pressure, is deeply concerning, PEN centers said today. The group called for him to be reinstated or compensated.  More ›


Relevant Research and Reports


Discourse in Danger: Attacks on Free Expression in Putin’s Russia

Russian President Vladimir Putin has seized upon information as a key weapon in his fight to promote Russia’s resurgence in the world. With the mainstream press increasingly toeing the Kremlin line, government restrictions have expanded to encroach upon other cultural spaces and modes of... More ›


The PEN Report: Creativity and Constraint in Today's China

The result of five years of research and targeted advocacy on behalf of censored or persecuted writers and journalists in the People's Republic of China, this report compiles the ongoing threats to individual writers and journalists and our assessment of the climate for freedom of expression in... More ›