Somaliland president pardons jailed poet

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Jailed Somali poet Naema Qorane has been released from prison after receiving a pardon from the president of Somaliland.

Qorane was arrested in January this year, and in April, sentenced to a three-year jail term for bringing the state into contempt.

Her lawyer told BBC Somali that her family appealed to the president for a pardon, and she has since been released without conditions.

Qorane was accused of calling the country of her birth – a breakaway state – a “region” and reportedly “insulted and defamed” the government.

Qorane, a native of the Republic of Somaliland, has been vocal in advocating for a united Somalia.

She was arrested on her return to Somaliland on January 27, after visiting the capital city of Somalia.

The poet performed some of her Somali Unity poems at a TEDx event held in Mogadishu.

The Somaliland Attorney-General charged her with “anti-national activity of a citizen and bringing the nation or state in contempt”, Radio Dalsan, a radio station in Somalia, reports.

Qorane had previously claimed to have received death threats and warnings in relation to her “Somalia Unity” advocacy.

“If it happens … I will be released one day and the prison experience is not going to change my views,” she is reported to have said in an interview in 2016.

Since her January 27 arrest, there has been an ongoing campaign on the Hargeisa administration to release Qorane.

Somaliland declared its independence from Somalia in 1991, following the fall of the Siad Barre regime. However, the international community has up until now, declined to recognise it as an independent state.

The region has in recent times clamped down heavily on anyone campaigning against what it calls “Somaliland sovereignty”.

Journalist and blogger AbdiMalik Muse Oldoon was arrested in February 2017 after returning from meeting Somalia President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed.

Author Mohamed Kayse Mohamed is also reported to have been arrested in February, after writing a book praising the Somali president.

 

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