In the office the PEN International team are currently updating the Case List: a list of all the individual cases campaigned on over the last few months. Literally hundreds of cases taken up. There are success stories.  Writers who through international pressure have been released and returned to their families.  And there are also many cases, sadly where the outcome is less positive.  In all corners of the world, right now, there are hundreds of writers imprisoned because of their ideas, because they dare to speak the truth or because they and their views are simply not in favour with the regime of the day.

Often they face torture, isolation, brutality.  Sometimes, death.

So why do these writers do it?  Knowing the consequences, knowing the risk they run, why do these men and women continue on in support of their ideals and beliefs, in support of freedom? 

As far back as the Ancient Greeks Thucydides knew that "the secret of happiness is freedom." and that "The secret of freedom is courage." Somewhat more recently Albert Camus observed "freedom is nothing but a chance to be better".

Here in the West we pride ourselves on our libertarian approach, our robust rally cry around the individual's right to freedom of expression.  We take our freedoms for granted.  And yet - we too have witnessed government and state quickly stepping in to control information, to repress freedom of expression - witness the calls for closing down social media in the face of the recent UK riots when in fact social media is merely a channel.

Contrast this kneejerk reaction to the measured response of the Norwegian people to the recent horrific events and attack on democracy within Norway.  Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg's call for freedom of expression: "We will not put a lid on opinions.  On the contrary, it is more important than ever that political debates are open and free, even on the most difficult issues.  Especially on the most difficult issues...We choose to respond with dignity."

Instead of retreating into fear, anger or repression, the Norwegian people have stayed true to their values of courage, humanity and respect for human dignity.  Their courageous example is one we should heed.

Freedom is hard won and easily surrendered.  We owe it to the brave nature of all those men and women who stand up to repression and fear.  We owe it to them to find our own moral courage, to use our power and influence as individuals and as global citizens to seek a world in which we can all "be better".