was arrested in Kashgar on 29 November 2004, shortly after the
publication of his short story ‘Wild Pigeon’ (‘Yawa Kepter’) in the
Uighur-language Kashgar Literature Journal. Upon arrest, the authorities
confiscated Yasin’s personal computer, which contained around 1,600
poems, commentaries, stories, and one unfinished novel. After a closed
trial in February 2005, at which Yasin was reportedly denied a lawyer,
he was sentenced to 10 years in prison for ‘inciting Uighur separatism’.
The charge against Yasin is believed to be based on the publication of
‘Wild Pigeon’, a short, tragic and beautiful tale of a bird that is
captured by humans. Yasin’s story was widely circulated and recommended
for one of the biggest Uighur literary websites in the Uighur Autonomous
Region for an outstanding literary award. However, 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
Yasin’s sentence was upheld on appeal by the
Kashgar Intermediate Court, and he was transferred on 19 May 2005 to
Urumchi No. 1 Jail, where he remains detained today. According to PEN’s information, he has been
permitted no visitors since his arrest. He is married with two young sons.
Nurmuhemmet Yasin is an
award-winning and prolific freelance Uighur writer and Honorary Member
of English PEN. He has published many highly acclaimed literary works
and prose-poems in recent years, including the poetry collections First
Love, Crying from the Heart, and Come on Children. In 2008, 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.
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.
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 an Honorary Member of English PEN, American PEN and the Indepedent Chinese PEN Centre. We firmly believe that he has been detained
in violation of Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and
Political Rights, to which China is a signatory, and continue to call for his immediate and unconditional release.
Write to the authorities
write to the Chinese Ambassador in London calling for Nurmuhemmet Yasin’s immediate and
unconditional release from prison:
His Excellency Liu Xiaoming
Embassy of the People’s Republic of China
49 Portland Place
Fax: 020 7636 2981
Write to Nurmuhemmet
If you would like to write directly to Nurmuhemmet Yasin in prison, please contact email@example.com for more details.
Originally posted with the url: www.englishpen.org/writersinprison/prisoners/nurmuhemmetyasinp.rchina/