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Nacima Qorane. Image from Twitter.

A court in the self-declared Republic of Somaliland has sentenced poet Nacima Qorane to three years in jail for her poetry which advocates for the reunification of Somalia, BBC reports. She was “found guilty of bringing the state into contempt by advocating for Somaliland to reunite with Somalia.”

Somaliland, a self-governing region of Somalia, declared itself independent in 1991 but has not been recognized by the international community.

Pressure groups have since launched into campaigns to highlight the violation of her basic human rights.

Somaliland’s Human Rights Centre has asked the government of Somaliland to release Nacima Qorane and respect human rights.

Its director, Guleid Ahmed Jama, told the BBC that it was “very concerned about the conviction and sentencing of Nacima Qorane”.

“Freedom of expression is enshrined and protected by the constitution of Somaliland. We urge the government of Somaliland to respect its own constitution,” he said.

Ms Qorane was arrested in January after returning from the Somali capital Mogadishu, where prosecutors said she had recited poetry calling for Somali unity.

The prosecution, according to the BBC report, “said that she had labelled the self-declared republic of Somaliland a ‘region’ and ‘insulted and defamed’ its government.”

Some other artists and journalists, we gather, have been arrested in Somaliland for the same reason. We are hoping that her arrest and sentence comes up at the ongoing PEN World Voices Festival.

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About Otosirieze Obi-Young

View all posts by Otosirieze Obi-Young
Otosirieze Obi-Young is Deputy Editor of Brittle Paper. He is a judge for the 2018/19 Gerald Kraak Prize and the 2019 Miles Morland Writing Scholarships. He is an editor at 14, Nigeria’s first queer art collective, which has published volumes including We Are Flowers (2017) and The Inward Gaze (2018). He is the curator of the Art Naija Series, a sequence of e-anthologies of writing and visual art focusing on different aspects of Nigerianness, including Enter Naija: The Book of Places (2016), which explores cities, and Work Naija: The Book of Vocations (2017), which explores professions. His fiction has appeared in The Threepenny Review and Transition. He has completed a collection of short stories, You Sing of a Longing, is working on a novel, and is represented by David Godwin Associates literary agency. He attended the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, where he got an M.A. in African Studies and a combined honours B.A. in History & International Studies and English & Literary Studies. He taught English at Godfrey Okoye University, Enugu. Find him at otosirieze.com, where he accepts writing and editing offers, or on Instagram or Twitter: @otosirieze. When bored, he Googles Rihanna.

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