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China jails Muslim author

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June 29, 2005 15:28 IST
A Chinese Muslim author has been sentenced to 10 years in prison after authorities deemed one of his stories subversive, a US-based broadcaster reported Wednesday.

Nurmuhemmet Yasin, a member of the Uighur ethnic group, was arrested last November and sentenced after a closed trial in February, Radio Free Asia reported. It said he was sent May 19 to the No. 1 Prison in Urumqi, capital of the Muslim Xinjiang region in China's northwest.

A man who answered the telephone at the prison's general office said it was "impossible to confirm the names of prisoners." The man hung up when asked for his name.

Yasin's arrest followed the publication last year of his Uighur-language short story "Wild Pigeon" in a literary journal, Radio Free Asia said. It said the story is about a bird trapped by humans that commits suicide in captivity -- apparently seen by authorities as an allegory for Uighurs under Chinese rule.

An overseas pro-independence group, the East Turkistan Information Center, announced Yasin's arrest earlier this year and said it was part of a broader crackdown on Uighur intellectuals.

East Turkistan is the name many Uighurs use for Xinjiang.

'China is the cruellest country in the world'

China's 8 million Uighurs are a Turkish people more closely related to ethnic groups of the neighboring Central Asian states than to the Han majority.

The communist government has been trying for years to crush pro-independence sentiment in Xinjiang.

Critics say even peaceful expressions of opposition to Chinese rule can result in long prison sentences or execution.

Radio Free Asia said Yasin was born in 1970 and is married with two young sons. Other groups said he was born in 1974. His writings were first published when he was 12 and have appeared in a score of magazines and newspapers, the reports said.

More reports from China

Christopher Bodeen in Shanghai
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