Uighur Author Sentenced to Prison for "Inciting Splittism"

August 18, 2005

The Kashgar District People’s Intermediate Court sentenced Uighur author Nurmemet Yasin to ten years' imprisonment on February 2, 2005, for publishing a story "inciting splittism." According to a Uighur-language Radio Free Asia report , Yasin published "The Wild Pigeon" in the Kashgar Literature Journal in the fall of 2004, and was arrested in Bachu County (Maralbeshi) on November 29, 2004. The story tells of a wild pigeon that travels far from home, only to be captured by humans and confined to a birdcage. The wild pigeon encounters several tamed pigeons who have lost their souls, in addition to their freedom, in exchange for regular feedings from the humans. The wild pigeon opts to commit suicide rather than remain imprisoned. Chinese authorities apparently interpreted the story as an allegorical criticism of Han Chinese policies in the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region. The court tried Yasin in closed hearings, and RFA sources report that he was denied access to a lawyer. Although Chinese authorities have recalled all 2,000 copies of the 2004 volume in which the story was published, they evidently have not closed the journal itself.