In "Open Poem To President Karimov," English poet Richard McKane addresses the fate of Sobirjon Yoqubov, a 22-year old journalist arrested in Uzbekistan last month on charges of unconstitutional activity. Through his poetry, McKane has in his own way joined those who have come to Yoqubov's defense in the belief that he is innocent and the charges against him are politically motivated.
In his poem "Open Poem To President Karimov," McKane calls on Karimov to use his powers to "uphold the spirit of freedom of expression in Uzbekistan":
"I continually think on the fate of Sobirjan / a fine journalist but only a young man: / there he is in the Tashkent can, / we have to unite forces and do what we can."
Yoqubov also wrote about the killing of Ukrainian journalist Heorhiy Gongadze: "Mr. President of Uzbekistan, / in your fine residence, do you understand / what your regime's doing in imprisoning this young man? / With all due respect, the process seems underhand."
To show his support, McKane in April penned another -- this one an ode to Yoqubov -- in which he wrote that although the journalist is young, he is "not too young to know and show a world corrupt and bent."
McKane said such poems can send a more powerful message to Uzbek authorities than letters.
"I write this dialogue for the Uzbek peoples' profit / and for the freedom and future of Sobirjan / and the writers and journalists you have unjustly imprisoned, / including Mamadali Makhmudov and Muhammed Bekjon, / for none other than their fight for freedom of expression."
In his open poem, McKane calls on President Karimov to "let [his] regime begin to uphold the spirit of freedom of expression in Uzbekistan, long awaited -- while it still can!"
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