Social activist chosen for Latvian PEN award

The general meeting of Latvian PEN members decided this year to award the Latvian PEN award to social anthropologist, human rights activist and the current project manager of the association "I want to help refugees" Ieva Raubiško for her work defending the rights of asylum seekers, announced the representatives of the association.

PEN International is a well-known association of writers with branches in many different countries, including Latvia.

Her efforts to assist people who have crossed the border from Belarus have led to the initiation of a criminal case against Ieva Raubiško which PEN said set a very dangerous precedent.

The authorities argue that the border crossers are illegal arrivals helped across the EU external border with the connivance of the Lukashenko regime's state-sponsored migrant smuggling operation. Raubiško and her supporters argue that even so, the arrivals should be treated with compassion and full respect for international asylum law.

By awarding the award to Ieva Raubiško, Latvian PEN expressed its gratitude for her courage and selfless work and to remind politicians and Latvian society that in a democratic country, the persecution of human rights activists and humanitarian aid providers is not permissible and concern for the safety of fellow human beings should not mean a risk to oneself.

Ieva Raubiško, receiving the award, said:

"I would like to use this opportunity and remind that asylum seekers not only get stuck at the border, some of them disappear without a trace or die under unknown circumstances, there is a lack of information about these people and their relatives do not have the opportunity to say goodbye to them."

The Latvian PEN award has been awarded since 2019 for significant achievements in promoting freedom of speech, limiting censorship and defending the rights of socially marginalized groups.

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