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
For his outspoken criticism of modern China, contemporary artist and activist Ai Weiwei was followed, beaten, put in prison, and finally was able to leave his homeland and now lives in Berlin.
Oscar Wilde was sentenced to hard labor in prison for "gross indecency" with other men, aka homosexual acts, but jail did not prevent Wilde from writing.
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.”
The title of a series of books, published yearly, that documents, “News that didn’t make the news—and why. The top censored stories and media analysis. Press freedoms on a ‘post-truth’ world."
Carlo Levi was an Italian artist, writer and doctor, and an anti-fascist before and during World War II. He was charged and sent to internal exile in the small town of Eboli.
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.
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.
Dalton Trumbo was one of the Hollywood Ten who opposed and refused to answer questions before HUAC. He lived in exile but continued to be a ghostwriter for Hollywood. In 1993, he received his long overdue Academy Award for The Brave One, and later a posthumous Academy Award for Roman Holiday, 1953.
Lutheran pastor and theologian who was imprisoned for two years and executed by the Nazis for his role in the plot to kill Hitler.
Baptist minister, civil rights and nonviolent activist, Martin Luther King Jr. was arrested for unlawful political protests against racial segregation. On April 16, 1963, he wrote an open letter to the world, stating there is a moral obligation to break unjust laws, in nonviolent ways, instead of waiting forever for justice to come through the legal system.
In 1937 Picasso created a huge mural painting (11’ 5” by 25’ 6”) in shades of gray, black and white to protest the Nazi German and Italian bombings of Guernica, a village in Basque Spain. The painting was a political and humanitarian protest, and its journey to different countries became a protest in itself. There are two reputed comments made by Picasso, one in response to being shown a photograph of the painting by a German officer, who said, “Did you do that?” Picasso responded, “No, you did.” In response to being asked about his political views, Picasso pointed to the large mural.
In 1945, fighting in East Prussia, Alexander Solzhenitsyn was arrested and sentenced to prison for anti-Soviet propaganda for criticising Stalin’s war plans and the need for a new regime. He spent 8 eight years in prisons and labor camps, but continued to write.
Bernard Gordon was a blacklisted writer/producer who moved to Europe, but continued to be a ghostwriter for many major motion pictures made in Hollywood.
Learn the story of the youngest Nobel Peace Prize winner ever, who risked her life to fight for the rights of girls in Pakistan to attend school. Malala was a young girl who would not be denied an education, despite being threatened by the Taliban, who shot her in the head. She lives in exile and continues to speak out for justice and human rights. In 2014, she was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.
Kirk Douglas provides the tumultuous backstory to the making of the film Spartacus, begun during the Hollywood blacklist. The film was based on the work of two writers, Howard Fast and Dalton Trumbo, who were jailed for refusing to testify before HUAC (House Un-American Activities Committee).
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.
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.”
The Nobel Peace Prize, 2018. This prize was shared with Dr. Denis Mukwege, "for their efforts to end the use of sexual violence as a weapon of war and armed conflict." Nadia Murad is a member of the Yazidi community who lived in Kocho, northern Iraq. She and her family lived a peaceful rural life with other families until their village was caught in the crosshairs of ISIS in 2014. People were killed and Nadia was abducted, beaten, tortured, repeatedly raped, and became part of the ISIS slave trade. She escaped and this is her story. Even though she is free, ISIS has continued to issue death threats because Nadia continues to speak out.
Czech dissident and playwright Vaclav Havel was sentenced to three years in prison for political dissent and human rights activities. He was permitted to write one letter a week to his wife. He later became President of Czechoslovakia, and of the Czech Republic.
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.
In 2006 while visiting her mother in Tehran, Iran, the American Director of the Woodrow Wilson Center's Middle East Program, Haleh Esfandiari was suddenly imprisoned and interrogated for nearly eight months. For part of that time she was in solitary confinement in the notorious Evin Prison where focus, self-discipline and determination were attributes that sustained her through a living nightmare in a country that once had been her home.
Liu Xiaobo was a Chinese writer (2008-2017), literary critic and human rights activist, who was tried and imprisoned. In 2010 he was awarded Nobel Peace Prize.
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.
Arrested in 1962 for anti-apartheid activities in South Africa, Nelson Mandela spent 27 years in prison. He was the first democratically elected president of South Africa, 1994-1999, and received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1993.
During the 1970s Argentina was run by a right-wing military regime. Newspaper publisher Jacobo Timerman documents his arrest, torture, and jailing.
Iranian lawyer, judge and human rights activist, was threatened, jailed, and suspended from practicing law. In exile from Iran, Shirin Ebadi lives in the United Kingdom, and in 2003 was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. She continues to openly criticize injustice in Iran and elsewhere.
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.
World-renowned writer Ngugi wa Thiong’o was jailed in Kenya’s Kamiti Maximum Security Prison and recounts what it was like to write a novel while under 24-hour watch.