Nurmuhemmet Yasin


English PEN is supporting the Uyghur PEN centre in a campaign for the release of Nurmuhemmet Yasin. As part of the campaign, we are aiming to arrange for ‘Wild Pigeon’ to be translated into 50 different languages. We currently have translations available in the following:

Albanian, Azeri, Basque, Chinese, Finnish, German, Hindi, Hungarian, Italian, Japanese, Kazakh, Korean, Kyrgyz, Mongolian, Norwegian, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish, Swedish, Tatar, Turkish and Urdu.

If you would be willing to translate the story into a language other than those listed above we’d be extremely grateful! For more information, please contact

D.o.b: 6 March 1974

Profession: Freelance Uighur writer of the Uighur-language Kashgar Literary Journal

Date of arrest: 29 November 2004

Sentence: 10 years in prison

Expires: 30 November 2014

Details of arrest: Nurmuhemmet Yasin was arrested in Kashgar on 19 November 2004 for the publication of his short story ‘Wild Pigeon’ (‘Yawa Kepter’), first published in the bi-monthly Uighur-language Kashgar Literature Journal (issue No. 5). After publication, the story was widely circulated and was recommended for an award by one of the biggest Uighur literary web sites. It also attracted the attention of the Chinese authorities, who apparently consider the fable to be a tacit criticism of their government in the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region. The Chinese authorities confiscated his personal computer, which contained close to 1,600 poems, commentaries, stories and one unfinished novel.

Trial details: After a closed trial, during which he was denied access to legal representation, Yasin was sentenced to 10 years in prison. He was convicted for ‘inciting Uighur separatism’ in his book Yawa Kepte. The Kashgar Intermediate Court upheld his sentence on appeal, and he as transferred to Urumchi No. 1 Jail. Yasin has not been allowed any visitors since his arrest. Korash Huseyin, the editor of the Kashgar Literary Journal, was sentenced to three years in prison for publishing ‘Wild Pigeon’.

Professional details: Nurmuhemmet Yasin is an award-winning freelance Uighur writer. He is known for his numerous short stories, essays, and three volumes of poetry: First Love, Crying From the Heart and Come on Children. Some of his work has already been selected for inclusion in Uighur-language middle-school literature textbooks. His short story ‘Wild Pigeon’ (‘Yawa Kepter’) was broadcast through Radio Free Asia’s Uighur Service and has been translated into English.

Place of detention: Urumchi No. 1 Jail.

Treatment in prison: Yasin has been permitted no visitors since his arrest.

Other Details: Yasin is married with two sons.

Honorary Member: American PEN, English PEN and Independent Chinese PEN. 

In 2008, Nurmuhemmet Yasin was shortlisted for the inaugural ArtVenture Freedom to Create Prize, a unique prize designed to celebrate the role of the arts in promoting human rights and highlighting the forgotten frontline of artists defending their freedom of expression at great personal sacrifice. The nominated piece of work, “Wild Pigeon (Yawa Kepter)” has been translated from Uighur into English and Chinese by Dolkun Kamberi, director of Radio Free Asia’s Uighur service. The English translation is available online in two parts:

Writing sample: From ‘Wild Pigeon’. Translated by Dr Dolkun Kamberi, Radio Free Asia.

I gaze at my mother for the last time. She seems peaceful, and brave. I stretch my damaged mouth out toward her. My beak, my only remaining weapon, an enemy to the humans, it protected and fed me, and then led me into the humans’ trap. It is broken now, shattered by my failed collision with the iron bars.

The poisons from the strawberry flow through me like the sound of freedom itself, along with gratitude that now, now, finally, I can die freely. I feel as if my soul is on fire – soaring and free.

Nurmuhemmet Yasin is one of the 50 symbolic cases chosen for inclusion in ‘Beyond Bars: 50 Years of the PEN Writers in Prison Committee‘, a special issue of Index on Censorship (issue 04/2010) produced in partnership with English PEN to mark the 50th anniversary of the WiPC (pp198-199)

Originally posted with the url:

About English PEN staff

This content is published by the English PEN staff.

View all posts by English PEN staff →

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *