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Tortured, Jailed, Exiled, Censored, But Not Silenced

Sheryn Morris, Librarian, Literature & Fiction,
red orange yellow flames with banned books
During Banned Books Week we celebrate freedom of speech and freedom to read

Over the centuries, various forms of expression have been banned or destroyed, and their creators have been censored, imprisoned, tortured, killed, exiled. It is the mission and responsibility of libraries to present multifarious viewpoints, and this is why the American Library Association joins other organizations to support Banned Books Week.

“We all know nations that can be identified by the flight of writers from their shores. These are regimes whose fear of unmonitored writing is justified because truth is trouble...Therefore, the historical suppression of writers is the earliest harbinger of the steady peeling away of additional rights and liberties that will follow.” Burn This Book—Toni Morrison

During Banned Books Week we celebrate freedom of speech and freedom to read.

Loud and Clear: Writers Who Found Ways to Express Themselves

The Bastard of Istanbul
Shafak, Elif

In 2006 Shafak was tried and acquitted for “insulting Turkishness” because one of the characters in this novel refers to the massacre of Armenians, during World War I, as genocide. Shafak no longer lives in Turkey and has stated that, “Turkey is the world’s leading jailer of journalists.”

Chroniques: Selected Columns, 2010-2016
Daoud, Kamel

Daoud is a journalist whose award-winning novel, The Meursault Investigation, is a modern response to Albert Camus’ The Stranger. For many years he has written for Le quotidien d’Oran. His questioning of traditional Islam and praise of the West brought forth condemnation by other journalists, and a fatwa (death threat) by a Salafist Imam.

The Culture of Lies: Antipolitical Essays
Ugresic, Dubravka

Ugresic is originally from Croatia, and is a journalist who has written critically about the most recent Balkan War that tore apart Yugoslavia. For her questioning and criticism, her work has been censored, and she has been continuously threated with violence and death.

Don't Stop the Presses!: Truth, Justice, and the American Newspaper
Morrison, Patt

Freedom of information can be diminished or limited because of economics, as exemplified in Patt Morrison’s overview of the modern American newspaper. She quotes Walter Cronkite about the importance of freedom of the press, “It is not just important to democracy; it is democracy.”

Journalism, Satire, and Censorship in Mexico

Since 2000 over 150 journalists have been murdered in Mexico. This collection of essays are by journalists, scholars, political cartoonists and others who examine if it is possible to have true freedom of the press and freedom of speech in a country that has been dominated by political terrorism and drug cartels. Fear of violence and death has created self-censorship by many writers and artists.

The Last Girl: My Story of Captivity, and My Fight Against the Islamic State
Murad, Nadia

Nadia Murad was a young school girl in her Yazidi village in northern Iraq when she was captured by ISIS, and used and sold as a sex slave. She survived and escaped, and despite receiving constant death threats, she continues to speak about what happened to her and to others.

Justice in Plain Sight: How a Small-Town Newspaper and its Unlikely Lawyer Opened America's Courtrooms
Bernstein, Dan

Censorship can take place anywhere and from anyone. In the 1980s, the Press-Enterprise, a hometown newspaper in Riverside, California, took two cases to the U.S. Supreme Court. The demand was that all court proceedings be open to the public and the press. Their successes have made it possible for, “...the public to witness jury selection and preliminary hearings.”

Like a Sword Wound
Altan, Ahmet

Ahmet Altan is a journalist and novelist who has been sentenced to life in prison in Turkey. This is volume 1 of his Ottoman Quartet, a series of novels about the last fifty years of the Ottoman Empire.

Open Veins of Latin America: Five Centuries of the Pillage of a Continent
Galeano, Eduardo

Originally from Uruguay, Eduardo Galeano was a journalist during the 1960s, writing about politics and culture. Following a military coup In 1973 he went to Argentina, and three years later fled to Spain because of Argentina’s repressive military dictatorship which confiscated and censored his writing. In Spain he wrote this book, which was censored in Argentina, Chile and Uruguay.

A Well-Read Woman: The Life, Loves, and Legacy of Ruth Rappaport
Stewart, Kate

This is the biography of a woman who was a librarian. The majority of Ruth Rappaport’s career was at the Library of Congress where she was a cataloger, delving into pornography collections that had been seized by the FBI. Her early life well prepared her for what a life under a repressive regime could be like. She escaped from her birth place, Leipzig, Germany, in 1938.


The following watchdog organizations provide continuous information about writers and others who are being censored, tortured, jailed or exiled. You can stay informed by subscribing to their emails.