Human Rights Watch is currently seeking nominations for the Hellman/Hammett grant program aimed at supporting writers all around the world who have been victims of political persecution and are in financial need.
The grants, named after the late American playwright Lillian Hellman and novelist Dashiell Hammett, typically range from $1,000 to a maximum of $10,000. Forty-eight writers from 24 countries received Hellman/Hammett grants in 2011 in recognition of their commitment to free expression and the courage they showed when facing political persecution.
Besides providing much needed financial assistance, the Hellman/Hammett grants focus attention on repression of free speech and censorship by publicizing the persecution that the grant recipients endured. In some cases the publicity is a protection against further abuse. In other cases, the writers request anonymity because of the dangerous circumstances in which they and their families are living.
The writers eligible for this grant are the ones, who are targeted for expressing views that their governments oppose, for criticizing government officials or actions, or for writing about subjects that their governments do not want reported.
Over the past 22 years, more than 700 writers from 92 countries have received Hellman/Hammett grants of up to US$10,000 each, totaling more than $3 million.
The program also gives small emergency grants to writers who have an urgent need to leave their country or who need immediate medical treatment after serving prison terms or enduring torture.
Emergency nominations are accepted throughout the year.
Last date for submission of applications is December 10, 2011.