PoLitPEN is joint project of PEN Armenia, PEN Georgia, PEN Belarus, PEN Ukraine and PEN America to bring together Georgian, Armenian, Belarusian, Ukrainian and American writers, artivists and Human Rights defenders in order to speak out for peace, free speech, and social justice in the region through a series of literary events, workshops, forum and campaign.

The main objectives of the PoLitPEN:

1) Establish dialogue between Armenian and Georgian PEN centers and between Caucasian and western Human Rights defenders communities through a series of literary events and conversations.

2) Engage PEN members from a larger Eurasia region in order to strengthen the connections between them and encourage potential future collaboration on free expression projects. 

3) Promote the work of regional poets, advocating for human rights, and artivists in the international arena. 

The first phase of the project took place from June 8-12 in Armenia under the title of Burning Poet(s) focusing on the South Caucasus, particularly on Armenia and Georgia, allowing the exploration of regionally relevant themes such as mutual cultural heritage and new tendency of writing human rights poems, and the need for more robust and interconnected creative sectors. It was organized by 3 sister PEN centers – PEN Armenia, PEN Georgia and PEN America.

The second phase of the project bringing in PEN Belarus and PEN Ukraine - will address pressing issues affecting the wider Eurasia region such as increasing attacks on freedom of speech, democratic backsliding, and heightening tensions between countries. 

The project aims to strengthen the connections between these regional centers, laying the groundwork for potential future collaboration on free expression projects. Given that mutual perceptions in the region are often shaped by conflict and geopolitical concerns, the project will also offer a much-needed space for enhancing cross-border understanding. 

PoLitPEN project is funded by European Union though HRHF through the 3-year action EU STRONG implemented by Human Rights House Foundation (HRHF), which sets out to strengthen the role that Human Rights Houses, member NGOs and other CSOs in Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova, Ukraine and the Russian Federation can play in the democratization processes in their countries. 

The duration of PoLitPEN project is one year (2022-2023). PEN Armenia is the main applicant for the grant together with co-applicant PEN centers.  PEN America is co-founder of the PoLitPEN project.

As a reminder, PEN Armenia and PEN Belarus are member organizations of the Human Rights Houses.