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In Somaliland: Court jails poet for 3 years over poem about unity

Somaliland court jails poet for 3 years over poems about unity

Prosecutors deemed her actions to be a violation of the sovereignty and secession of Somaliland.

A court in Somaliland has sentenced poet Naciima Qorane to three years in prison for what has been described as "anti-national activity".

Qorane had been arrested at the Egal International Airport in January 2018 when she returned from Mogadishu, Somalia's capital city, where she allegedly recited poems calling for unity.

Somaliland's self-declared independence after its 1991 breakaway from Somalia has resulted in regional tensions that have been ongoing for decades.

According to Garowe Online, Qorane attended a TEDx event in Mogadishu and presented her Somali Unity poems to the audience. Her January arrest was linked to writings and perceptions of Somalia's unity and separatism.

Prosecutors deemed her actions to be a violation of the "sovereignty and secession of Somaliland" as the nation continues to face an uphill battle to gain international recognition. The prosecution alleged that Qorane called Somaliland a 'region' and 'insulted and defamed' the government.

During an interview in 2016, Qorane had said she was not afraid of being imprisoned for her beliefs after getting death threats and warnings not to step foot in Somaliland.

She said, "If it happens though I am not expecting the jail was built not for animals but for people. I will be released one day and the prison experience is not going to change my views."

Human rights violation

The Human Rights Centre has requested the release of the poet, with its director, Guled Jama, expressing concerns over rights violations.

"We are very concerned about the conviction and sentence of Naima. Freedom of expression is enshrined and protected by the Constitution of Somaliland," he said.

Curated: Meets Media.ng

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