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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 a writer, an academic, and Deputy Editor of Brittle Paper. His fiction has appeared in The Threepenny Review ("Mulumba," 2016), Transition ("A Tenderer Blessing," 2015), and in an anthology of the Gerald Kraak Award for which he was shortlisted ("You Sing of a Longing," 2017). His work has further been shortlisted for the Miles Morland Writing Scholarship in 2016 and a Pushcart Prize in 2015. He attended the 2018 Miles Morland Foundation Creative Writing Workshop. He is the curator of the ART NAIJA SERIES, a sequence of themed e-anthologies of writing and visual art exploring different aspects of Nigerianness. The first, ENTER NAIJA: THE BOOK OF PLACES (October, 2016), focuses on cities in Nigeria. The second, WORK NAIJA: THE BOOK OF VOCATIONS (June, 2017), focuses on professions in Nigeria. He studied History and Literature at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, is currently completing a postgraduate programme in African Studies and Pop Culture, and teaches English at Godfrey Okoye University, Enugu. He has completed a collection of short stories, YOU SING OF A LONGING, and is working on a novel. He is represented by David Godwin Associates literary agency. When bored, he just Googles Rihanna.

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I hold a doctorate in English from Duke University and recently joined the Marquette University English faculty as an Assistant Professor. I love teaching African fiction and contemporary British novels. Brittle Paper is the virtual space/station where I play and experiment with ideas on how to reinvent African fiction and literary culture.

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