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Our writers about their participation in PEN/Opp

”In the wake of the Arab Spring, I faced the most difficult time in my life. I had to face massive hate comments and death threats for my anti-regime writings in my blog. It was on a time we, journalists and press freedom advocates in Yemen thought we would finally have the peace in doing our job. But that was not the case. As crackdown on journalists increased, we appreciated any help coming from anywhere. PEN/Opp reached a hand to me during that tough time, offering me a platform to be heard and protected. They even allocated a financial payment for my piece which was of a great value. The moral and financial support PEN/Opp showed me was truly priceless.”
– Afrah Nasser, journalist and blogger from Yemen

“The situation with freedom of expression in such countries as Russia has been dreadful for a long time now. Some topics which the authorities consider ‘sensitive’ were tabooed to be raised for years. Chechnya, corruption and political prisoners have always been the most silenced ones. In these circumstances, the only way to ensure that the information is collected and become known is to have channels outside Russia. Much depends on the level of solidarity of our colleagues in countries which know what freedom is. PEN/Opp is one of such platforms. I would hope that Russia will be even more presented there as the situation the Russian civil society is now is absolute critical.”
Oksana Chelysheva, journalist from Russia

“PEN/Opp motivated me to raise my voice and share my experiences, opinions related to censorship. In Turkey, there is a restricted, obvious censorship issue which most of people are not aware of. This alternative media help us to collaborate with other societies raise awareness in many aspects.”
Anonymous, film director from Turkey

“In my opinion, PEN/Opp it is a free space for freedom of speech and it is something that I always wanted to have. As a small website, I consider PEN/Opp a great platform for writers in exile who are seeking new readers. I hope you can continue your work in the future because you it’s for Sweden and the rest of the world.”
Naiemeh Doustdar, writer from Iran

“In the chaos of the politicized media in our world, PEN/Opp takes the role of freedom's tribune. As a Syrian writer, who participated in the issue about Syria, I believe that PEN/Opp is a list of evidences that reveals the lying of the civilized world about fighting for freedom against dictatorship. Also, it shows the meaning of revolution in my country as it is; not a war as what the world leaders want to convince their people.”
Housam Al-Mosilli, poet from Syria

“PEN/Opp gave me the opportunity to share my critical position on the political situation in Belarus and supported me in my work for freedom of speech in Belarus. I think the magazine seriously helps me and my colleagues from other countries with dictatorship to survive in the global information space and share effectively critical information about our own countries. I think it is quite useful and effective tool for freedom of speech promotion and defending.”
Pavel Marozau, writer from Belarus

“PEN/Opp is important for Russian journalists, because in Russia the free media space, where you can raise sensitive issues, decreases with each passing day. In addition, for readers from other countries, it seems to me, is also important to understand that not all Russian people agree with the official point of view.”
Natalya Afanasyeva, journalist from Russia

“PEN/Opp has given me the opportunity to read writers I wouldn’t have been able to read anywhere else. And it has helped me to get new views and perspective on topics that interest me. May the magazine flourish for the sake of truth and human independence around the world.”
Somaya Ramadan, writer from Egypt

“By publishing my text in PEN/Opp, I had the opportunity to be translated to both English and Swedish. I think the main aim of any writer is to be known to the public, and your magazine offered this to me.”
Suzanne Ibrahim, poet and journalist from Syria

“Perhaps you can not imagine the meaning of being a woman in this Eastern society, whose women are fighting in every way. I do not receive any support from anywhere. No one pays attention to my presence or what I do. Your magazine was the first place I can publish in, and the first place to get me appreciation. Thank you for making me in some way alive. You have published an article for me; this is the first true voice in my life. I’m so marginalized here that no one even knows I’m there.”
Doaa Abou Shaghibeh, writer from Egypt

”I came to know about PEN/Opp even when I was in Bangladesh. I read so many articles of dissident activists and was able to know about the causes of their fights. As an activist, I found it more useful. When I was asked to write here, I felt honoured. I thought that this is the chance to let other people know about me and what I am doing. I got many appreciation from different people. It is a great experience for me to write in an international platform. We, human rights activist, need such platform more and more.”
Supriti Dhar, journalist and writer from Bangladesh

“I believe that any window of free expression that allows writers and journalists from a country in a deep democratic crisis like Venezuela, is a great help, especially when it comes to a digital page that is carried by a prestigious institution such as the PEN Club, in this case from Sweden. That writers and journalists have had the opportunity to tell the world what is happening in our country is deeply appreciated.”
Fedosy Santaella, writer and professor in literature from Venezuela

”I cannot emphasize enough how important it is for Venezuelans to give visibility to the current situation of our country through the voices of its own writers and journalists, given the growing censorship and government harassment of freedom of expression and press freedom. PEN/Opp had the generosity to include me in this chorus of diverse voices trying to explain the country from different angles. For me it has been a very satisfactory opportunity because it has also allowed me to see part of my texts translated into other languages and has put them in dialogue with the words of other Venezuelans about our urgencies and reflections.”
Margarita Arribas, writer from Venezuela

“Being featured in PEN/Opp has been so meaningful not only because of what the blog is doing for voices that might otherwise go unheard, but also because this issue, #29 is a special one for me. Having an issue that features Ethiopian writers writing about a truly unexpected moment in the country's history, and the hopes we have not only for its future but for that of the world; for freedom and for change, is wonderful enough, and being part of it alongside these amazing writers and journalists has been the icing on the cake.”
Liyou Libsekal, poet from Ethiopia

“I am so glad to get published on PEN/Opp. It is one of the best on line publications that gives a chance for writes on the run and have limited voices. I can say PEN/Opp is a voice for Dissents Indeed.”
Sosina Ashenafi, writer and journalist from Ethiopia

“It is my wish for a while to have a chance publishing on PEN/Opp because it is one of the best platforms for people who really care about freedom of expression and human right. And being published on PEN/Opp is like being a family of dissidents.”
Gezahegn Mekonnen, journalist and filmmaker from Ethiopia