After a week of celebrating the liberty to dive into titles like "Lolita" or the "Catcher in the Rye," Banned Books Week comes to a close. Yet there are still those who are being persecuted for attempting to embrace such freedoms of expression.
Amnesty International has taken the occasion of Banned Books Week -- and beyond -- to call attention to oppressed writers worldwide.
"We wanted to add an international component to Banned Books Week. We wanted to broaden it from solely looking at censorship to what other risks writers face now in various countries around the world," Michael O'Reilly, Amnesty International campaign director, told the Huffington Post. "If you don't have the right to express your thoughts, you won't have ability to advocate the full range of human rights."
The writers highlighted below have been imprisoned, had their publication shutdown and received death threats.
"The cases this year -- they do give a good picture of countries where freedom of expression is under fire."
The mail-in petitions below call for government action to allow free expression. O'Reilly noted that taking the extra step of actually sending mail is a key part of affecting change.
"The ability to put paper on someone's desk has a different impact than filling up an email box," he said, explaining that the organization will sometimes translate online campaigns to print as well. "I don't think Amnesty will ever go fully online."
O'Reilly recalled one campaign that prompted an international ambassador from Togo to march into his Washington, D.C., office saying his desk had filled up with petitions calling for prisoners to be released. O'Reilly said he was informed that a number of individuals had in fact been set free.
"Our goal is to provoke more of that," he said.
Click to read about writers who are being oppressed worldwide. Do your part to help give them the freedoms you celebrate during this year's Banned Book Week.
Photos: Courtesy Of Amnesty International unless otherwise noted:
Lydia Cacho is the first woman in Mexico to trail a child porn and human trafficking ring, according to Today's Zaman. She published two books, the most recent in 2010, that revealed names of those involved. Cacho's received numerous death threats since. Former officials of Puebla State have been implicated in her previous detainment and harassment, Amnesty International reports. Sign and send a petition calling on the government to provide Cacho with protection, as both she and The Inter-American Human Rights Commission have requested.
Nurmemet Yasin is serving a 10-year prison sentence for writing an allegorical short story that the authorities considered critical of their ruling, according to Amnesty International. His story "Wild Pigeon" (Yawa Kepter), is the first-person narrative of the son of a pigeon king who is trapped and commits suicide in captivity. Yasin was charged with "inciting splittism" or separatism from the central Communist party. He's reported abuse in prison. Sign and send a petition calling for his release, which is scheduled for November, 2014.
Father Nguyen Van Ly, a 64-year-old Catholic priest and publisher of dissident writings, has spent almost two decades in prison. He's often been put in solitary confinement for "conducting propaganda against the state" after calling on Vietnamese authorities to allow freedom of expression, according to Amnesty International. He is now in poor health. Sign and send a petition calling for his release and medical treatment.
Abuzar Al Amin wrote a number of articles analyzing the elections in 2010, after which his newspaper was promptly shut down, according to Amnesty International. He was sentenced to five years in jail. Though he was released in July, new charges of criminal conspiracy and undermining the constitution were brought against him in July. Sign and send a petition calling for charges to be dropped.
Isa Saharkhiz, 58, a former magazine and newspaper editor in Iran, had been campaigning for the opposition presidential candidate in 2009 when his family home was raided in Tehran. He was arrested and sentenced to imprisonment on charges of "insulting the leadership" and "propaganda against the system," according to Amnesty International. Saharkhiz said his ribs were broken when he was beaten during his arrest. Both his former magazines and newspaper were suspended, and his prison term has been extended, Voices of America reports. Sign and send a petition calling for his release on the grounds that Saharkhiz was simply exercising freedom of expression.
Aayat Alqormozi was detained after reading a poem that was critical of the kingdom's monarchy at a protest rally last year, according to the Islam Times. Her family revealed in June that in prison, she was beaten using electrical cables and forced to clean toilets with her hands, the Times reports. She was imprisoned from March to July. Sign and send a petition calling on the government to annul her conviction, drop any pending charges against her and to investigate claims of torture.
Prageeth Eknaligoda disappeared from an area near the capitol of Sri Lanka shortly after leaving work at the Lanka-e-News office in January, 2010, according to Amnesty International. His wife believes her husband was abducted by the government because of his criticism of President Rajapaksa. Sign and send a petition calling on a full investigation of his disappearance by the government.