PEN Gala in honor of 3 Iranian dissidents

NEW YORK – Three jailed Iranian dissidents will be honored at the annual Pen America gala.

The literary and human rights organization announced Thursday that writer-filmmaker Baktash Abtin, novelist-journalist Keyvan Bajan and author-critic Reza Khandan Mahabadi are this year’s PEN / Barbey Freedom to Write laureates. Award 2021. All three are members of the Iranian Anti-Censorship Writers Association and are serving a collective sentence of 15.5 years on charges of endangering national security and “spreading propaganda.”

“Baktash Abtin, Keyvan Bajan and Reza Khandan Mahabadi are embodiments of the spirit that drives our work at PEN America. They are writers who are called not only to deliver prose and ideas on a page, but to live fearlessly – and to sacrifice immensely in the service of the freedoms that underpin free thought, art, culture and creativity, ”said Suzanne Nossel, CEO of PEN America. A declaration.

“By assuming the leadership role within the Iranian literary community, they have served as beacons for countless authors and thinkers whose ability to imagine, push boundaries and defy repression under the most dangerous conditions is fueled by the knowing that they are not alone. . “

The PEN Gala is slated for October 5 at its longtime venue, the American Museum of Natural History, with Awkwafina as host and others receiving awards, including researcher Henry Louis Gates Jr. and president. by Walt Disney Robert Iger. Last year’s ceremony was held online due to the pandemic.

The Freedom to Write Prize, awarded to artists and writers imprisoned for their work, was awarded among others to Russian filmmaker Oleg Sentsov and Chinese writer-activist Xu Zhiyong.

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