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Uyghur PEN Centre Conference in Crimea 19 July 2012.
 

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Celebrating Literature

 
  • For PEN’s Poets: reflections by Jennifer Clement, President of PEN International

    PEN International Sat 20 March 2021 Today the world marks World Poetry Day, an opportunity to celebrate and promote poetry and the power and creativity of language. Each year on this day, PEN International highlights the case of poets who face great challenges across the globe simply for their work, and asks its members and supporters to take action on their behalf.  When I think of the poets incarcerated in the world and punished, I think of poetry. Poetry is almost the only thing that has no monetary value. You cannot sell a poem. Nobody wants to buy a poem. Poems are not for sale in the market by the apples and peaches, or in the auction houses by sculptures and paintings. I confess that it gives me a strange wonder and shock to think that a poem is so powerful and so dangerous that a poet can be locked up and sentenced to death for rhymes and couplets, for metaphors and symbols. When contemplating how dangerous poems have become, I recall the words of British poet and novelist Thomas Hardy: ‘If Galileo had said in verse that the world moved, the Inquisition might have let him alone’. In our times, if Galileo had inked his discoveries in free verse with stanza breaks, he might be looking at the sky- his round, telescope-shaped sky- from a prison cell.    Mahvash Sabet, imprisoned in Iran in 2008 and freed 10 years later in 2017, penned impassioned poems to Fariba with whom she shared a cell at the beginning of her incarceration. Sabet wrote: ‘O my companion in the cage! How many cruelties we saw together; how many favours too and blessings in our isolation. […] They tied your wings to mine, feather to feather, and you rested your head beside mine every night’. The poet Li Bifeng, […]

     
  • Keeping the Uyghur Culture Alive in Exile

    03/03/2021. RUTH INGRAM BITTER WINTER MAGAZINE Non-Chinese culture is repressed or reduced to a tourist attraction in Xinjiang. But exile and sorrow have produced a flurry of poetry and creativity among the diaspora. by Ruth Ingram A #MeTooUyghur campaign organized by the anonymous @SuluArtco activist collective, set up to raise awareness about disappearing Uyghur intellectuals. Strange bedfellows; tear gas and poets, tasers and writers, electric cattle prods, handcuffs and artists; folklorists and pepper spray. But when orders come down from the top to break Uyghur lineage, break their roots, break their connections, and break their origins, and CCP procurement figures for a secret network of transformation through education camps include instruments of torture, the pieces of the puzzle start to make sense. No one willingly walks into the annihilation of their culture. Unreasonable force will be part of the deal. Not content with rounding up so-called “holy warriors,” “splittists” and “the politically dangerous” for Beijing’s euphemistically named “vocational training” program, more than 400 academics have also been dragged into the black hole of internment and the disappeared since the start of a program of cultural annihilation, which began in 2017. Unlike most Uyghurs who were corralled into 24/7 Chinese language classes and political indoctrination, these university professors, writers, poets, singers, and dancers are fluent Mandarin speakers and often loyal Party members. Accused of being two-faced traitors and half-hearted supporters of the regime, these intellectuals’ only crime is their love for Uyghur history and culture, and their desire to see their nation flourish. They have all without exception vanished, and with them a vital bridge to the intangible cultural heritage they embody. Uyghur writers, poets, and academics gathered online last week to commemorate UNESCO’s International Mother Language Day and the 100-year anniversary of PEN International, a worldwide association of writers, founded in London in 1921 to promote literature and defend […]

     
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  • How to sustain Uyghur culture in the diaspora?

    At a time of crisis for Uyghur language and culture, in the face of China’s policies of cultural erasure in the Uyghur homeland, we mark International Mother Language Day by inviting Uyghur writers, poets and artists, translators and experts on Uyghur culture, to discuss how best to sustain Uyghur language, literature and culture in the diaspora.  PEN Uyghur Centre promotes literature, freedom of expression, and the right to use our mother tongue, and works to sustain Uyghur culture in the diaspora.  We celebrate PEN International Centenary 2021! 100 years of celebrating literature and protecting freedom of expression The Centenary is a celebration of PEN ’s 100 years. Bringing together PEN Centres, members, partners, writers, readers and activists for a unique programme of events, campaigns and activities across residencies and workshops globally, the Centenary is a celebration of PEN ’s unfinished story. Moderator:   Aziz Isa ElkunWriter, poet, director of Uyghur PEN Online Revitalisation Project Speakers: Mukaddas Mijit Ethnomusicologist, film maker, dancer, and music manager Joshua FreemanPostdoctoral fellow, Princeton Society of Fellows Abduweli AyupWriter, poet, and linguist specialising in Uyghur language education Tahir IminScholar of political science, founder of Uighur Times Agency Rachel HarrisProfessor of Ethnomusicology, SOAS, University of London Ross HolderAsia Regional Programme Coordinator of PEN International Details:  Date and time: Sunday 21 February, 15:00 London time Discussion topic: “How to sustain Uyghur culture in the diaspora?” Platform: Webex Webinar  Language: English  The event will be live streamed on Uyghur PEN’s Facebook page.  Please register for the Webinar on Eventbrite:www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/how-to-sustain-uyghur-culture-in-the-diaspora-tickets-137415189531 Organised by Uyghur PEN Online Revitalisation Project with the support of PEN International.  www.uyghurpen.org | www.pen-international.org ________________________________________________________________