About Uyghur PEN

Uyghur PEN Centre Conference in Crimea 19 July 2012.

Uyghur PEN old websites:






Recent Comments




    Uyghur PEN Centre

    • On World Poetry Day, do not forget imprisoned Uyghur poets

      Today, March 21st, while celebrating World Poetry Day, please do not forget hundreds of innocent imprisoned Uyghur poets lying in Chinese prisons. Their only crime was writing poems in their God-given mother language, Uyghur. World Poetry Day is celebrated on 21 March, and it was designated by UNESCO in 1999 “with the aim of supporting linguistic diversity through poetic expression and increasing the opportunity for endangered languages to be heard”. Since 2017, China has arrested and persecuted more than 500 Uyghur poets, giving them lengthy prison sentences for their “crime” of writing poems. These poets, including prominent figures such as Abduqadir Jalalidin, Perhat Tursun, Ablet Abdureshid Berqi , Rahim Yasin Qaynami, Adil Tunyaz, and Gulnisa Imin Gulkhan, now find themselves behind bars, their only offence being the courageous act of sharing their voices through verse. The subsequent examples serve to illuminate the severe extrajudicial persecution endured by Uyghur poets at the hands of the Chinese government. Below, you will find excerpts from their poignant works: Abduqadir Jalalidin is a renowned Uyghur poet, scholar, and literature professor at Xinjiang “Normal” University. He was detained without reason in 2018 and since then his whereabouts are unknown. News that he was sentenced to 13 years in prison has sickened the Uyghur world, says Elkun. His poem, No Road Back Home, composed from his cell, was memorized by cellmates who, upon their release, recited it to prove to his family that he was still alive. An excerpt, translated by Munawwar Abdulla, was a rare glimpse of life behind bars in China, talking of a “broken heart, aching and longing” to be with his love, “tormented with no strength to move,” “watching the seasons change through cracks and crevices.” “I have no lover’s touch in this solitary corner, I have no amulet for each night […]

    • Uyghur Poems

      Edited by Aziz Isa ElkunTranslated by Aziz Isa Elkun and othersPublished: 26/10/2023EVERYMAN’S LIBRARY POCKET POETSPenguin Random House An unprecedented collection of poems spanning the rich two-thousand-year cultural legacy of the Uyghur people of Central Asia. EVERYMAN’S LIBRARY POCKET POETS. The Uyghurs have a long and glorious history of poetry, dating from the oral epics of the second century BCE through the elegant love poetry of the medieval period and up to the present moment -and much of it has never before been translated into English. Uyghur poetry reflects the magnificent natural landscapes at the heart of the Silk Road region, with its endless steppes, soaring mountain ranges, and vast deserts, as well as its turbulent history. Turkic, Sufi, and Persian influences have shaped the poetic tradition over the centuries, and more recently the modernism of the twentieth century left its mark as well. In the face of the systematic persecution of the Uyghurs in China today, which has driven many of their poets into exile, including the editor and translator of this volume, Aziz Isa Elkun, who lives in London. Uyghur Poems is not only a remarkable one-volume tour of an ancient and vibrant poetic tradition but also a vital witness to a threatened culture. EVERYMAN’S LIBRARY POCKET POETSPenguin Random Househttps://www.penguin.co.uk/books/457502/uyghur-poems/9781841598307 Uyghur Poems Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Uyghur-Poems-Everymans-Library-Pocket/dp/1101908343 _________________________________

    • A Stone Is Most Precious Where It Belongs by Gulchehra Hoja review – a powerful testament of Uyghur persecution

      Source: The Guardian As a beautiful young TV star at the turn of the millennium, Gulchehra Hoja was highly valued by the Chinese state. She presented popular children’s programmes, was lavishly paid and mingled with influential media figures in Beijing. But by 2017, she had been designated a terrorist and placed on China’s most wanted list. The next year, 24 of her family members disappeared in a single night, into the black hole of state detention. A Stone Is Most Precious Where It Belongs is Hoja’s account of that dizzying journey from local celebrity to exiled activist living in the permanent shadow of a superpower’s revenge. It’s also a first-hand testimony of China’s persecution of its Uyghur Muslim minority, which rights groups have described as constituting “crimes against humanity” and which the US designated a genocide in 2021. Hoja grew up at China’s north-westernmost limits, in the vast arid territory that the state calls the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, but that Hoja and many other Uyghurs know as East Turkestan. In the regional capital of Urumqi, her family were “much closer to Kazakhstan than to Beijing”; they spoke Uyghur, a Turkic language written in an Arabic-derived script; followed Islam; and gathered for evenings of traditional music, dance and communal feasting. But even as a young girl, Hoja realised that “there were always two lessons to be learned: what was in the CCP-issued schoolbooks, and then the real history, literature and culture, which could only be learned from people like my father, in private settings and in low voices”. The facts of that history were so politically dangerous that within China they were erased altogether. Though the Uyghur homeland had been under Chinese military control since the 1750s, through the 19th and early 20th centuries it remained a turbulent and contested […]

    • Heart and Soul: The Uighur Poets

      BBC World Service 16 July 2021 Uighur poetry is and has been for centuries a fundamental part of the culture and members of the community write poetry and often recite part poems that have been passed down the generations and learn off by heart. As the community face widespread persecution by the Chinese authorities and at a time of great despair and fear for them, Uighurs speak to us about the ways in which poetry offers ways of support, succour and resistance. The programme features the voices and works of Uighurs, poets and experts from across the world.

    • Communist China’s Genocidal Crackdown on Uyghur Intellectuals

    • “But a thorn was left in our tongue …”

    • The Poetry of Trauma – Webinar

    • Adil Tunyaz, a well-known Uyghur poet, arrested in 2017, and his fate is unknown

    • Keeping the Uyghur Culture Alive in Exile

    • #100PENMembers No. 87: Ahtam Omer