Free the Wild Pigeon is a campaign to call attention to the plight of Nurmuhemmet Yasin, author of the fable Wild Pigeon.
Nurmuhemmet was sentenced to 10 years' prison for writing this tragic but beautiful tale of a bird who sets out on a journey of discovery, but is captured and caged by humans. In the end, the pigeon commits suicide rather than live a life in captivity. Chinese authorities interpreted the story as criticism of state control in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, China's largest province (located just north of Tibet) and home to millions of Uyghurs, a Turkic people culturally and linguistically close to the Uzbeks.
Uyghur PEN fears for Nurmuhemmet Yasin's life. With four years left of his prison sentence, Uyghur PEN and other organizations have received reports that Nurmuhemmet has suffered repeated torture and beatings, and may have been tortured to death in prison.
Nurmuhemmet is not alone: Neither in the sense that he is forgotten, nor in the sense that he is alone in suffering this fate. Uyghur writers - whether journalists, poets, novelists or academics - walk a fine line in the shadow of government censorship. Political and non-political writing alike risks being interpreted as "subverting state power." Criticism of any government policies can result in being branded an enemy of the state - or, in China's preferred parlance, a "separatist," or even a "terrorist."
Free the Wild Pigeon is a global voice speaking on behalf of one writer who has been robbed of his own, and others like him.