RAPID ACTION NETWORK Appeal | January 9, 2013

By | January 10, 2013 at 3:45 pm | No comments | Campaigns | Tags: , ,

CHINA:  Concerns for Uighur writer Nuremuhamet Yasin

The Writers in Prison Committee (WiPC) of PEN Canada reiterates calls for information about detained writer Nuremuhamet Yasin, following unconfirmed and disputed reports that he died in prison in 2011. Yasin was arrested in November 2004 and sentenced to ten years in prison for ‘inciting separatism’ for publishing the short story Wild Pigeon in a Kashgar literary journal.

PEN considers Yasin to be detained in violation of Article 35 of the Chinese constitution and Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which China is a signatory, and calls for his immediate and unconditional release.

According to PEN’s information, unconfirmed reports that Nurmuhemmet Yasin had died in prison were recently disputed by a family member, who claims to have visited him in Urumchi No.1 prison in July 2012 and found him in reasonably good health. She also reports to have received a letter from him in October 2012 which she believes is genuine.

Yasin has spent most of the past eight years detained incommunicado without access to family visits, fostering speculation about his condition and possible death. However, Yasin’s wife and two children have reportedly been given permission to visit him at the prison on  January 16, 2013. In spite of repeated requests for information about his condition, the Chinese government has remained silent on the issue.

Nurmuhemmet Yasin was arrested in Kashgar on November 29, 2004, following the publication of his short story Wild Pigeon (Yawa Kepter) in a Kashgar literary journal. Authorities also confiscated his personal computer containing an estimated 1,600 poems, commentaries, stories, and one unfinished novel. After a closed trial in February 2005 at which he was not permitted a lawyer, Yasin was sentenced by the Maralbesh Country court to 10 years in prison for “inciting Uighur separatism.” His sentence was upheld on appeal by the Kashgar Intermediate Court, and Yasin was transferred on May 19, 2005 to Urumchi No. 1 Jail, where he is thought to remain detained.

Wild Pigeon tells the first-person narrative of a young pigeon – the son of a pigeon king – who is trapped and caged by humans when he ventures out to search for a new home for his flock. In the end, he commits suicide by swallowing a poisonous strawberry rather than sacrifice his freedom, as his own father committed suicide under similar conditions years earlier. “The poisons from the strawberry flow through me,” the unnamed pigeon remarks to himself at the end. “Now, finally, I can die freely. I feel as if my soul is on fire-soaring and free.”

Yasin’s story was widely circulated and recommended for one of the biggest Uighur literary websites in the Uighur Autonomous Region for outstanding literary award. It also attracted the attention of the Chinese authorities, who consider the fable to be a veiled criticism of their government in the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region.

Nurmuhemmet Yasin, aged 39, is an award-winning and prolific freelance Uighur writer. 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. He is said to be a well established literary figure among Uighur readers. He is married with two young sons.

Wild Pigeon was translated from the Uighur into English and Chinese by Dolkun Kamberi, director of Radio Free Asia’s (RFA) Uighur service. It has been adapted for broadcast by RFA’s Uighur service, edited in English by Sarah Jackson-Han, and produced for the English Web by Luisetta Mudie. The English translation is available online in here and here

Please send appeals:

  • Calling for information about the welfare of detained writer Nurmuhemmet Yasin, following unconfirmed reports that he died in prison in 2010.
  • Reiterating demands for Yasin’s immediate and unconditional release, in accordance with Article 35 of the Chinese constitution and Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights to which China is a signatory.

Appeals to:
His Excellency Hu Jintao
President of the People’s Republic of China
State Council
Beijing 100032
P.R. China

His Excellency Mr ZHANG Junsai
Ambassador
Embassy of the People’s Republic of China
15 Coronation Drive
Yarralumla, ACT 2600

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