Defending Free Expression

Without freedom of expression, there can be no meaningful literature. Without literature, there can be no real freedom of expression.

The basic principle of Pen Greece is  Defending freedom of expression.

Today, in Greece, the freedom of expression is non-negotiable, a basic principle of the Greek democracy, since according to article 11 of the Greek Constitution “Every person has the right to freedom of expression. This right  includes freedom to hold opinions and to receive and impart information and ideas without interference by public authority and regardless of frontiers.

Over the years, however, freedom of expression has not remained intact, nor has its existence been undisturbed.

During the seven years 1967-1974, the principle of freedom of expression was catalyzed and led to sad, dangerous and unacceptable impacts for all those who tried to raise their voices against the very existential power of the Greek Republic.

PEN Greece, following the  PEN charter,  aspires to become a helper of all those who have a voice against any bad texts, whether they concern the Greek space or the world. To highlight problems that can be identified and concern the deprivation of free expression, ie the free movement of spiritual and moral values, to point out those responsible for a possible upset of balances and the overthrow of freedoms, considering from the outset freedom of expression as the greatest social good.

A freedom that is synonymous with democracy, the avoidance of authoritarian powers but also cultural creation.

A cornerstone for the existence of many rights in all the democracies of the world and, above all, the main axis of balance of intellectual creation is the freedom of expression, that  may not be directly endangered nowadays but it is always endangered by the complacency that lurks in modern societies.

In several countries, freedom of expression is not an absolute right. Writers, journalists and intellectuals are being prosecuted and face severe prison sentences.

At PEN Greece we defend the right to expression as a supreme asset and we are aware of the need to disseminate the problems identified worldwide, so that we can become an obstacle on any of its plots.

Tessy Baila, 8th October 2021  


How is PEN different from other freedom of expression organisations?

There are a number of differences. First, PEN International is a membership organisation: that is, our members, via PEN Centres wordwide, always inform the work we do. Therefore the connection between the international office and the Centres is very strong. Although the international office is the hub of the organsiation, setting strategy and coordinating activities, it is not more important than any one Centre; we are all equal.
Second, we campaign for freedom of expression and uphold literature as a force of world culture at the same time. We don’t believe it is possible to have a vibrant literary culture without freedom of expression: the two go hand in hand.
Third, we define ‘freedom of expression’ in a slightly different way from our colleagues elsewhere. For us, it means the right to have your voice heard (whether as text or speech) across languages and cultures; the right to an education; and the right to read as much as the right to write. These core principles are expressed through the various campaigns, projects, programmes and events that PEN International supports every year.
Finally, our definition of a ‘writer’, as well as the people we support (particularly in our campaigning work) is all-inclusive: a writer, for us, can be a novelist, poet, journalist, academic, publisher, translator, blogger, biographer, playwright, etc. – in short, it refers to anyone involved with the written or spoken word. This broad definition is what truly makes us the worldwide movement that we are.