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[Image: Nurmuhemmet Yasin ]
On this page:

Basic Information


Name Nurmuhemmet (also “Nurmemet”) Yasin /
(pen name “Örkixi”)
Date and Place of Birth

March 6, 1974, Maralbesh County (in Chinese, Bachu County [巴楚县]), XUAR

Formal Arrest Date November 29, 2004
Charge Inciting separatism (煽动分裂国家)
Trial Date February 2, 2005
Sentence 10 years’ imprisonment
Current Location Urumqi No. 1 Prison, XUAR
Anticipated Release November 28, 2014


Overview: Uyghur Writer Serving
10 Years for Publishing Novella

“The air inside and outside this cage are identical, I think, but the life possible on my side of these iron bars might just as well belong to a different universe.”

- Nurmuhemmet Yasin, “Wild Pigeon”

Nurmuhemmet Yasin is a Uyghur writer, poet, and freelance journalist from Maralbesh County, Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR). In late 2004, he published his novella “Wild Pigeon” in the Kashgar Literature Journal.[1] The story describes a wild pigeon that ventures in search of a new nesting place safe from human encroachment. After being duped by domesticated pigeons into a trap set by humans, he learns that his species’ freedom is threatened not only by mankind, but also by those pigeons that have remained in captivity so long that they have grown suspicious of the prospect of life outside. The story ends with the wild pigeon choosing to kill himself rather than submit to human captivity.

At the time of its release, “Wild Pigeon” was recommended for an award by a major Uyghur literary website.[2] Chinese authorities reacted differently. Interpreting the allegorical story as a repudiation of Chinese rule in the restive Xinjiang region, they detained Yasin on November 29, 2004, in Maralbesh County under charges of “inciting splittism.” Authorities also recalled all 2000 copies of the journal in which the novella appeared and seized Yasin’s personal computer, which contained more than 1600 poems, short stories, and an uncompleted novel. [3]

Between November 30, 2004, and May 17, 2005, Yasin was interrogated by the State Security Bureau, beaten, and threatened.[4] He was denied legal representation and was convicted of inciting separatism in a closed trial in February 2005,[5] a verdict that UN Special Rapporteur on Torture Manfred Nowak said was given “possibly on the basis of information extracted by torture.” Yasin was sentenced to ten years’ imprisonment.[6] His appeal was denied. [7]

Reverberations of Yasin’s conviction affected the larger Uyghur community. A writer based in Urumqi informed HRIC that following Yasin’s arrest, official control of the Uyghur press and publishing became so restrictive that most Uyghur writers preferred to refrain from publishing entirely.[8] A year after Yasin’s arrest, Korash Huseyin, the chief editor of the Kashgar Literature Journal, was also arrested, tried, and sentenced to three years’ imprisonment on “dereliction of duty” for publishing Yasin’s story.[9]

Prior to his arrest, Yasin lived in Maralbesh County with his wife and two sons.[10] In addition to Wild Pigeon, his writings include three volumes of poetry, as well as numerous short stories and essays. Though silenced by Chinese authorities, Yasin’s writings have received recognition from other quarters. Some of his works were chosen for inclusion in Uyghur-language middle school literature textbooks. In November 2008, Wild Pigeon was shortlisted for the ArtVenture Freedom to Create Prize for imprisoned artists.[11]

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Treatment in Prison and Current Status

In Urumqi No. 1 Prison (February 2005 - Present)

Nurmuhemmet Yasin has been denied visitors since his arrest in November 2004. On May 19, 2005, after his conviction, he was transferred to the Urumqi No. 1 Prison.[12] In an interview conducted on November 30, 2005, Yasin told UN Special Rapporteur on Torture Manfred Nowak that he had been beaten by other prisoners in his cell for not speaking Mandarin. Nowak also received reports that detainees at the Urumqi No. 1 Prison were not allowed to pray in detention. Nowak’s interview is the last reliable report on Yasin’s condition.[13]

In August 2007, HRIC received unconfirmed reports that Yasin had been tortured to death in prison. Attempts by exiled Uyghur groups to contact his wife and mother have been unsuccessful.[14]

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Official Appeals

International Experts

  • In 2006, UN Special Rapporteur on Torture Manfred Nowak appealed to the Chinese government for Nurmuhemmet Yasin’s release and detailed the conditions of Yasin’s imprisonment in a report on his mission to China.” In his report, Nowak cited that during an argument with a policeman, Yasin was “hit in the face and suffered a bleeding nose.” In the Urumqi No. 1 Prison, Yasin was also beaten by prisoners in his cell for not speaking Mandarin.[15]

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Court Documents

Because Nurmuhemmet Yasin received a closed trial, HRIC knows of no court documents that have been made available.

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HRIC Advocacy and Media Work on Nurmuhemmet Yasin

Below is a listing of HRIC's advocacy and media work on Nurmuhemmet Yasin, including press release, statements, and case updates. To subscribe to HRIC's press list, please e-mail communications@hrichina.org with "SUBSCRIBE" as the subject heading.

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ENDNOTES

[1] “Wild Pigeon: A Uyghur Fable,” Radio Free Asia, June 27, 2005, http://www.rfa.org/english/news/arts/uyghur_literature-20050627.html.

[2] Human Rights in China, “Call for Information on Uyghur Writer’s Safety,” August 24, 2007, http://www.hrichina.org/public/contents/44685.

[3] Congressional-Executive Commission on China, “Uighur Author Sentenced to Prison for ‘Inciting Splittism,’” August 18, 2005, http://www.cecc.gov/pages/virtualAcad/index.phpd?showsingle=6759; Human Rights in China, “Call for Information on Uyghur Writer’s Safety,” August 24, 2007, http://www.hrichina.org/public/contents/44685.

[4] United Nations, “Report of the Special Rapporteur on Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment on Punishment, Manfred Nowak,” U.N. Doc. E/CN.4/2006/6/Add.6 (2006), http://ap.ohchr.org/documents/dpage_e.aspx?si=E/CN.4/2006/6/Add.6.

[5] Human Rights in China, “Call for Information on Uyghur Writer’s Safety,” August 24, 2007, http://www.hrichina.org/public/contents/44685.

[6] United Nations, “Report of the Special Rapporteur on Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment on Punishment, Manfred Nowak,” U.N. Doc. E/CN.4/2006/6/Add.6 (2006), http://ap.ohchr.org/documents/dpage_e.aspx?si=E/CN.4/2006/6/Add.6.

[7] “Wild Pigeon: A Uyghur Fable,” Radio Free Asia, June 27, 2005, http://www.rfa.org/english/news/arts/uyghur_literature-20050627.html.

[8] D.T., “Uyghur Culture Faced with Endless Campaigns,” China Rights Forum, 2007, no. 4, http://hrichina.org/public/PDFs/CRF.4.2007/CRF-2007-4_Uyghur.pdf.

[9] Congressional-Executive Commission on China, “Uighur Editor Korash Huseyin’s Prison Sentence Expires,” May 5, 2008, http://www.cecc.gov/pages/virtualAcad/index.phpd?showsingle=102323.

[10] PEN American Center, “Uighur Autonomous Region: Nurmuhemmet Yasin,” http://www.penn.org/printmedia.php/prmMediaID/765.

[11]Ibid.

[12] “Wild Pigeon: A Uyghur Fable,” Radio Free Asia, June 27, 2005, http://www.rfa.org/english/news/arts/uyghur_literature-20050627.html.l.

[13] United Nations, “Report of the Special Rapporteur on Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment on Punishment, Manfred Nowak,” U.N. Doc. E/CN.4/2006/6/Add.6 (2006), http://ap.ohchr.org/documents/dpage_e.aspx?si=E/CN.4/2006/6/Add.6.

[14] Human Rights in China, “Call for Information on Uyghur Writer’s Safety,” August 24, 2007, http://www.hrichina.org/public/contents/44685.

[15] United Nations, “Report of the Special Rapporteur on Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment on Punishment, Manfred Nowak,” U.N. Doc. E/CN.4/2006/6/Add.6 (2006), http://ap.ohchr.org/documents/dpage_e.aspx?si=E/CN.4/2006/6/Add.6.

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