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Uyghur PEN Centre Conference in Crimea 19 July 2012.
 

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PEN International

 
  • 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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  • New episode of PEN International’s Creative Witnesses premiered in solidarity with writers at risk in the Asia/Pacific Region

    PEN International Thursday 4 February 2021 – 11:09am On February 8, PEN International will premiere the second episode of Creative Witnesses, a filmed event that brings together musicians and creative artists in support of writers who have been imprisoned, harassed or have lost their lives because of their work and commitment to freedom of expression. This new episode of Creative Witnesses will be released on PEN International’s YouTube Channel on Monday 8 February at 10am UK time. It will showcase new and original creative work by renown musicians and artists: Kurdish painter Zehra Doğan, Uyghur filmmaker and performer Mukaddas Mijit, Canadian/American poet Julia Balm and London-based musicians George Jones and Pearl Bloor. Focusing on the Asia/Pacific region, the production will feature responses to three PEN International cases: Saw Win (Saw Wai) (Myanmar), poet and PEN’s member facing imprisonment for defaming the military; Perhat Tursun(People’s Republic of China), Uyghur author who was forcibly disappeared in Xinjiang in 2018; and Varavara Rao (India), poet and human rights activist detained without trial since 2018 on the grounds that he incited caste violence, allegations that he strongly denies. It will also honour the life and work of Chinese writer and Nobel Prize recipient Liu Xiaobo as part of the Liu Xiaobo Anniversary Campaign. The event has been founded and organised by writer and activist Ege Dündar in collaboration with musician and writer Gabriel Moreno. Dündar is PEN International’s Youth Engagement Coordinator and Founder of İlkyaz Young Writers Network — a literary platform which promotes the work of writers aged under 35 with the support of Norwegian PEN, PEN Turkey and PEN International. He is also the son of leading Turkish journalist and former prisoner of conscience Can Dündar. Introducing this new episode, Ege Dündar said: “With Creative Witnesses we want to establish ‘chains of solidarity’ in resistance to the ‘chains of imprisonment’ […]

     
  • Day of the Imprisoned Writer 2020: Take Action for Chimengül Awut

    Name: Chimengül AwutOccupation: Editor, award-winning Uyghur-language poetSituation: Imprisoned without trial in ‘re-education camp’ #ImprisonedWriter #ChimengulAwut Read Ma Thida’S Solidarity Letter To Chimengül Chimengül Awut is an editor and poet from Kashgar, southern Xinjiang. She published her first poem in 1987, at the age of fourteen, and has since developed a substantial body of work. In 2008, Chimengül’s collection of poetry received a prestigious Horse Award for national minority literature. At the time of her detention, Chimengül worked as an editor at the Kashgar Publishing House in Xinjiang. In July 2018, public security officials in Kashgar sent 13 employees of the Kashgar Publishing House, including Chimengül Awut, to Xinjiang’s ‘re-education’ camps. She was allegedly targeted because of her work editing a Uyghur-language novel called Golden Shoes (Altun Kesh) by Halide İsra’il, who also has been detained in Xinjiang’s ‘re-education’ camps. Owing to the extra-legal nature of the ‘re-education’ camps, she was not found guilty of committing a crime through any formal legal process and there is no official date for her release. All contact with the outside world is prohibited by the security services. Her current health and well-being are unknown. It is estimated that up to 1.8 million people like Chimengül could be held in a network of secretive ‘re-education’ camps. PEN International considers Chimengül Awut’s persecution to be a clear breach of her right to freedom of expression and calls for her to be immediately and unconditionally released. Take Action Send an appeal to the Chinese authorities Tell others: share Chimengül’s case and her work Give to our Day of Imprisoned Writer appeal Read Ma Thida’s solidarity letter to Chimengül Send an appeal to the Chinese authorities Ask the authorities to: Provide information on Chimengül Awut’s current status, and allow for independent verification. Release Chimengül Awut and her colleagues immediately and unconditionally. End the practice of […]

     
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  • Day of the Imprisoned Writer 2020

     
  • Free Yalqun Rozi

     
  • China: Free Ilham Tohti

     
  • The PEN Charter

     
  • Women Writers

     
  • Writers in Prison