Tag Archives: free imprisoned poets

Qatar Flies Into The City of Liberty As Poet Rots In Jail

mohammed-al-ajamiQatar Airlines is now flying into Philadelphia and all the local politicians, or it seems, are excited to have them here. I am aware of the economic impact of such an add on at the airport, however, there is a poet, Mohammed al-Ajami who was sentenced to life in prison for writing a poem. The sentence was later reduced to 15 years. Mohammed al-Ajami,  a poet, who wrote a poem, is serving 15 years for doing so. The question: Will the city known as the cradle of liberty do nothing for a few Qatar bucks?  In the past we have contacted Pa. Senators Casey and Toomey and nothing was accomplished. Possibly contacting Philadelphia City Council or the Mayor’s office would help. Bucks over liberty, a song that never grows old.

The offending poem appears below, yes this poem deemed so offensive to the Emir that a man sits in a cell with no apparent hope of release.

The Poem 

Mohammed al-Ajami

We are all Tunisians (Tunisian Jasmine)*

Mr. Prime Minister Mohamed al-Ghannoushi
You don’t hold constitutional power
We don’t wax nostalgic for Ben Ali or his times
For us that’s past history
The dictatorship of a despotic and oppressive regime
Against which the people have raised their revolutionary voice
We only criticize the disgrace and the horror
And when we praise somebody it’s only because of our personal convictions
Oh revolutionary hail the struggle with the blood of the people
Carve the value of rebellion in the soul of the free
And tell those who are holding their shroud
That every victory bears its ordeals
Ah, when shall it be the turn of that country whose foolish king
Believes he can rely on the American military
Ah, when shall it be the turn of the country whose people are empty bellied
While its government time and again praises the growth of finance?
Ah, when shall it be the turn of the country where you go to sleep a citizen
And you wake up stateless the next morning?
Ah, when shall it be the turn of that repressive and hereditary regime?
Until when shall you remain a slave to selfishness?
Until when shall the people remain unaware of its value
And fail to choose its own government?
Enough with tyrannical regimes!
Tell the one who torment his people
That tomorrow someone else will take his place
He should not rest assured that the country belongs to him or his offspring
Because the country belongs to the people and so does glory
Join your voices in a chorus for a single destiny
We are all Tunisian in the face of repression
Governments and Arab governments
Are all- without exception
A gang of thieves.
And there is a question that rings obsessively in the minds of those who wonder
But shall never be answered by the official sources:
If we import all kinds of things from the West
Why can’t we import freedom and the rule of law?


– g emil reutter

Free Zhu Yufu

Zhu Yufu

From Russell Streur

Many of you are aware of, and have participated in, the Saloon’s support for the imprisoned Chinese poet, Zhu Yufu.  He has now spent 953 days in custody and still has years to serve until his sentence is scheduled to end in 2019.

News comes this weekend that Chinese authorities refused to allow an activist US physician to evaluate Zhu’s medical condition.  The American doctor risked the unorthodox intervention after hearing descriptions of the dissident’s ill-health.  Prison officials gave the bum’s rush to the gray-haired grandmother, Devra Marcus of Virginia.  The story can be found here:


The Saloon has recently heard from Maggie Wenzhuo Hou, Director of Friends of Conscience and a friend of Zhu Yufu’s sister, Zhu Xiaoyan.  Through Maggie, Xiaoyan gives some additional details of Zhu’s harsh treatment:

Zhu Yufu’s living condition is really very bad. His food does not have any nutrition and not giving anything like meat or egg. He is not given even minimum standard of nutritious food. in the prison where there are 240 people, there are only 12 shower, and they were told to finish shower within half an hour. So, Zhu Xiaoyan said, one person only got 1.5 minutes of shower time. Zhu Yufu, being old, poor health, and couldn’t even walk steadily, -could never get a chance to compete with the other inmates for shower -which is why during the summer, his whole body had terrible rash and bleeding during hot summer days.

Zhu Yufu, as a prisoner of conscience is treated very badly. He was told to sleep close to the toilette (note that there is no separate bathroom) -several inmates urine in the same toilette -he was intentionally humiliated to sleep in that place;

He was not allowed to any minimal prisoner’s rights. the prison recently announced that, because the prison is overcrowded, they would give medical parole or allow “community service” to release some –people who have illness, and people who are older than 60 etc -both conditions apply to Zhu Yufu. but Zhu Yufu was told that he would not be allowed to register and would not be considered -because he is a political prisoner.

His mental health is in a very difficult situation.

I learned through Maggie that while Zhu Yufu is best known in the West as a poet, writer, he is also a calligrapher and an artist.  Some of his work on fans can be seen at this Chinese-language website:


The struggle to gain Zhu Yufu his freedom continues.  Here are some things you can do to help:

Let Maggie Wenzhuo Hou know of your support at friends.conscience@gmail.com

Send Zhu Yufu a card.  Select one with a positive image on it—a flower for instance, or a bird or rainbow. A short message in English would be appropriate—“I am thinking of you” or “You are not forgotten” would work.  Nothing complicated or lengthy, and nothing against the Chinese government or any message that could bring him trouble.  Pay attention to colors: red means good fortune and joy; yellow represents good luck; green, health and prosperity.  He may never receive it—but the prison grapevine might bring him word of it. Include your name and return address on the envelope so the authorities know the world-wide breadth of his support. Do not send money and do not expect a response. The international postage will be less than the cost of the card—the US Post Office issues Forever Global stamps for $1.10. The address to use is:

Zhu Yufu

Zhejiang Provincial No.4 Prison

P.O. Box 50, Hangzhou City 311100

Zhejiang Province

P.R. China

Write the Chinese ambassador to your country expressing your request for his release. A source for embassy locations can be found at http://www.fmprc.gov.cn/eng/gjhdq/

Zhu Yufu is just one of hundreds of imprisoned writers around the world. For more information from English PEN, click http://www.englishpen.org/campaigns/international/


russell-streur1-1Russell Streur is a born-again dissident residing in Johns Creek, Georgia.  His work has been published in Europe, certain islands and the United States.  He operates the world’s original on-line poetry bar, The Camel Saloon, catering to dromedaries, malcontents and jewels of the world at http://thecamelsaloon.blogspot.com/