Gezahegn Demissie, Why I Support PEN

PEN Canada’s end-of-year campaign launched Tuesday, November 28 and runs until December 31.
To understand PEN Canada’s impact, we’re sharing testimonials from the PEN community. They are writers in exile, writers in peril, and emerging writers. They are teachers, novelists, journalists, activists, bloggers and poets. Gezahegn Mekonnen Demissie writes: 

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Dear friends and advocates of free expression, 

I want to share a personal testimony about the profound impact PEN has had on my life and the lives of countless others, particularly in the context of my homeland, Ethiopia. 

My connection with PEN goes beyond mere support; it was a lifeline, a refuge for writers and journalists navigating treacherous times. In 2005, amid the perils faced by journalists in Ethiopia, my friends and I embarked on establishing a chapter, which became the Ethiopian PEN Centre. PEN was our unwavering companion through the intricate founding process, standing as a beacon of hope even when challenges seemed insurmountable. 

PEN, to me, is not just an organization; it is a vital force that champions freedom of  expression and provides sanctuary for those whose voices were silenced. My relationship with the organization endured even after I fled my homeland and settled in Canada, illustrating PEN’s enduring commitment to its cause and community. 

Now, as we stand in the 2020s, facing challenges reminiscent of the 1920s, PEN continues to be a stalwart defender of freedom of expression and literature. Now more than ever, we need to rally behind this organization that has weathered a century of storms in its tireless pursuit of a world where voices are free. 

I implore you, dear reader, to join me in supporting PEN Canada this giving season. Let’s fortify the tent that shelters writers and journalists, ensuring the flame of free expression burns bright for generations to come. Together we can make a difference in the fight for freedom and the written word. 

With gratitude,
Gezahegn Mekonnen Demissie

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