International Women’s Day

On the 8th March, International Women’s Day, PEN International is coming together with the Women Writers Committee to protest the imprisonment and persecution of Khadija Ismayilova, Sanjuana Martínez Montemayor and Gao Yu.

“Each of these women has suffered prolonged persecution – either at the hands of their respective governments, or from other parties – purely because of their work.” PEN International.

These three writers from Azerbaijan, Mexico and China respectively, are all closely associated and involved with PEN. However, unfortunately, these writers have all also experienced extensive persecution. This is why, for this years International Women’s Day, PEN International will be standing up and protesting for these women.

On their site, PEN International has provided a brief overview of the intimidation and arrests of Khadija Ismayilova, Sanjuana Martínez Montemayor and Gao Yu. PEN International have also suggested ways for you to take action for these three women this International Women’s Day, including postal addresses. Please visit their website to take action –

Here are the even briefer overviews of these three cases:

Khadija Ismayilova – investigative journalist, and a radio host for Radio Free Europe Radio Liberty


5 December 2014, Khadija Ismayilove was arrested on suspicion of inciting another journalist’s attempted suicide.

She is currently being held in pre-trial detention, and now also charged with a number of other offences, including embezzlement, illegal business, tax evasion, and abuse of power.

There have been numerous accounts of public intimidation and judicial harassment; one example being videos posted online of her, filmed secretly from within her house.

If charged, she is facing up to 19 years in prison.

PEN believes that the charges against Ismayilova are politically motivated and are a response to her exposures of high-level corruption.

Sanjuana Martínez Montemayor – journalist for the newspapers SinEmbargo and La Jornada and author.

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On 24 December 2014, she was arrested on suspicion of making a false declaration to the court relating to an amparo (legal protection of her constitutional rights), granted to her in 2012.

It has been suggested that her arrest is linked to her article about the alleged rape of a member of the Tamaulipas state police force by an officer of superior rank in the Mexican Army, published in that same month.

She has also received mass harassment in earlier years over various publications exposing corruption and criticising the Mexican establishment.

She has stated that these cases of harassment, and now her arrest, are all in retaliation against her work and these publications.

Gao Yu – former chief editor of Economics Weekly and contributor to the German newspaper Deutsche Welle.


Gao Yu ‘disappeared’ on 23 April 2014.

She was held incommunicado for two weeks before the authorities disclosed, in a televised ‘confession,’ that she was being held on suspicion of ‘leaking state secrets abroad’

Her trial was said to have began in November 2014 and lasted four hours. The trial took place behind closed doors and the verdict is still unknown.

At the time of her disappearance Gao Yu was writing a column entitled ‘Party Nature vs. Human Nature,’ which is said to focus on the new leadership of the Chinese Communist Party and its internal conflicts.

It is feared that the televised ‘confession’ was extracted under duress.

According to Gao’s lawyer, the charges against her are believed to be based on a document known as ‘Document Number 9,’ which Gao wrote the previous year.

PEN has been supporting Gao Yu since 1989 after she was arrested over the pro-democracy protests.

In total, since 1989, Gao has been imprisoned for over 6 and a half years prior to this recent case – all because of her work and writing.


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