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Jung Chang presents PEN awards – while winners remain in prison or barred from travel


Wild Swans author honours work by Eritrea’s Amanuel Asrat, Turkey’s Can Dündar, and Egypt’s Omar Hazek

Jung Chang, famous to millions of readers for Wild Swans, the harrowing account of her family’s experience of China’s 20th century, presented three PEN awards on Thursday night in The Hague. None of the winners could attend – two are in prison, the other is theoretically at liberty but practically unable to leave Egypt. Chang said that although her writing life – beginning while Mao’s Cultural Revolution made persecution of writers a policy – had had its “misfortunes”, she felt very lucky in comparison to the circumstances of the three winners.

Two of the writers who were awarded the Oxfam Novib/PEN award for freedom of expression were unable to be at the event because they are currently imprisoned: Eritrean poet and journalist Amanuel Asrat, and Turkish writer and journalist Can Dündar.

Related: 'If we don’t give them a voice, no one will': Eritrea's forgotten journalists, still jailed after 14 years

Related: I revealed the truth about President Erdogan and Syria. For that, he had me jailed | Can Dündar

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