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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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OTOSIRIEZE is a writer, literary journalist, former academic, and Deputy Editor of Brittle Paper. A judge for the 2019 Gerald Kraak Award, he is an editor at 14, Nigeria’s first queer art collective which has published two volumes: WE ARE FLOWERS and THE INWARD GAZE. He is the curator of ART NAIJA SERIES, a sequence of themed e-anthologies of writing and visual art exploring different aspects of Nigerianness: ENTER NAIJA: THE BOOK OF PLACES (October, 2016) focuses on cities in Nigeria; WORK NAIJA: THE BOOK OF VOCATIONS (June, 2017) focuses on professions in Nigeria. His fiction has appeared in The Threepenny Review and Transition, and has been shortlisted for the Miles Morland Writing Scholarship and the Gerald Kraak Award, both in 2016, and a Pushcart Prize in 2015. He attended the 2018 Miles Morland Foundation Creative Writing Workshop. 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. He combined history and literature at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka and taught English at Godfrey Okoye University, Enugu. When bored, the boy just Googles Rihanna. Find him at otosirieze.com, where he accepts editing and writing offers, or on Instagram or Twitter: @otosirieze.

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