The seeds of wisdom

Leaning into the answer



Stories to live by

Index 2012

The power of the word

The king of illuminated manuscripts

The commissions of Jean, duc de Berry

Prejudice and the pen

The awakened soul

The color of her mind

Defending the pen from the sword

A story we lived by










On July 21, 2011, the Human Rights Committee, the expert body established under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, reiterated the central importance of freedom of opinion and expression, stating that these freedoms “are indispensable conditions for the full development of the person. They are essential for any society. They constitute the foundation stone for every free and democratic society.”
Human Rights Watch (, September 27, 2011



Books burning, illustrations from The Nuremberg Chronicle, by Hartmann Schedel (1440-1514).

Even when faced with extraordinary efforts to silence them, some individuals still keep writing -- when harassed or intimidated, when property is destroyed or confiscated, when threatened with criminal prosecution, fines, imprisonment and death.  It is these writers that the Hellman/Hammett Grant Program attempts to assist and support.

The nativity of the program was during the The McCarthy Era. In 1950 Senator Joseph McCarthy produced a list of 205 State Department employees who he claimed were Communists. Though McCarthy had little proof, McCarthyism was possible due to the pervasive public anxiety surrounding the onset of the Red Scare and the Cold War. Playwright and political activist Lillian Hellman and her life companion, novelist Daschiel Hammett, were targeted during the investigation. Afterward Hellman had trouble finding work and Hammett was jailed.

After Hellman's death in 1984, her estate founded the Hellman/Hammett Grant Program. This year's writer recipients have suffered persecution because they have openly criticized public policy or persons in power. They have undergone censorship, surveillance, detention, arrest, torture and imprisonment. Many are living in exile.

Hang Chakra (Cambodia) filmmaker, journalist.

Venerable Luon Sovath (Cambodia) land rights activist, poet, essayist, videographer.

Cui Zi’en (China) Chinese writer and filmmaker.

Du Daobin (China) online essayist.

Fan Yanqiong (China) writer.

Gao Yu (China) journalist, editor.

Guo Quan (China) former professor, writer.

Hada (China) writer.

Liu Xianbin (China) writer, democracy activist.

Tan Zuoren (China) literary editor, writer and environmental activist.

Tumenulzii Buyanmend (China) essayist.

Zhu Yufu (China) journalist, writer.

Upi Asmaradhana (Indonesia) journalist, advocate for press freedom.

Semuel Waileruny (Indonesia) scholar, lawyer, writer and political activist.

Zunar (Malaysia) political caroonist.

Alan Shadrake (Singapore) author, journalist and former foreign correspondent.

Chiranuch Premchaiporn (Thailand) executive director of the Bangkok-based Foundation for Community Educational Media (FCEM).

Phan Thanh Hai (Vietnam) dissident writer, blogger and founding member of the Club for Free Journalists.

Vi Duc Hoi (Vietnam) writer and blogger.

Ho Thi Bich Khuong (Vietnam) writer, activist for the rights of landless poor people, freedom of expression and freedom of association.

Le Tran Luat (Vietnam) former lawyer, blogger.

Nguyen Xuan Nghia (Vietnam) journalist, novelist, poet, and editorial board member of the underground democracy bulletin, To Quoc (Fatherland).

Ta Phong Tan (Vietnam) writer, journalist, and blogger.

Nguyen Bac Truyen (Vietnam) writer and former political prisoner.

Cu Huy Ha Vu (Vietnam) artist with a doctorate in law from the Sorbonne.

Nikolai Khalezin (Belarus) journalist, newspaper editor and playwright.

Ramazan Yesergeopov (Kazakhstan) writer and editor.

Ali Abduleman (Bahrain) proponent of freedom of expression, blogger.

Bahman Amhadi-Amouee (Iran) journalist, editor.

Keveh Kermanshahi (Iran) journalist and human rights activist.

Amir Rashidi (Iran) blogger and activist.

Rafael Marques de Morais (Angola) journalist and writer.

Pierre Roger Lambo Sandjo (known as Lapiro de Mbanga) (Cameroon) singer-songwriter.

Deo Namujimbo (DRC) writer and radio journalist.

Abebe Gellaw (Ethiopia) journalist, writer and Advocacy and Development Director of Ethiopian Satellite Television (ESAT), an independent television station broadcasting direct to Ethiopia.

Zerihun Tesfayae Wondimagegon (Ethiopia) journalist.

Robert Wanyonyi (Kenya) print-radio-television journalist

Elias Adam Hassan (Somalia) journalist.

Hisham Adam (Sudan) writer and novelist.

Luis H. Najera (Mexico) journlaist.

Carlos Correa (Venezuela) director of the Venezuelan nongovernmental organization Public Space (Espacio Público), which advocates for freedom of expression in Venezuela.