26 has paired fifty of its members with fifty writers whose causes have been championed by International PEN over the years. The idea is to find out as much as you can about your writer and then write (exactly) fifty words as a response.
The results are being posted up daily, in the run up to International PEN's Free The Word festival in April. They make for fascinating reading, not just as pieces in themselves, but as little windows into the much bigger stories that lie behind.
My writer is Dawit Isaak, an Eritrean-born Swedish citizen imprisoned by the Eritrean government for his work as a journalist on the country's first independent newspaper. He has been held without trial for 3,099 days, in prisons notorious for their inhuman conditions and use of torture. His family and friends (he has many) have no way of checking on his well-being.
There's an excellent website where you can find out more about his plight (click on the English language option at the top right of the page). One simple way to help is to sign the petition on the home page, which has over 18,000 signatures, mainly from Sweden. It would be a nice side-effect of this project if some more British names appeared.
I'll write in more detail when my contribution comes out in the next few weeks.