Turkmenistan: Four conscientious objectors imprisoned – two for the second time – and complainants harassed
(22.02.2013) Dovran Matyakubov and Matkarim Aminov are Jehovahs Witness conscientious objectors in Turkmenistan. They have already been imprisoned for 18 months each (being released in June 2012), but in December were sentenced to a further two years imprisonment.
The pair were sentenced in the northern city of Dashoguz. According to Forum 18, punishments for conscientious objectors have been harsher in Dashoguz than in other parts of the country. Since this is their second imprisonment, they are likely to be imprisoned in a prison with a strict regime.
Two other conscientious objectors - Yadgarbek Sharipov and Arslan Dovletov - were sentenced in December 2012 and January 2013 respectively to one year and 18 months imprisonment.
The call up of Yadgarbek had in fact been deferred in early 2012 because of health problems, and it is not clear why the military authorities have decided to prosecute him despite this.
All four of the new prisoners were transferred to Dashoguz Detention Centre after their convictions. They have been sentenced under Criminal Code Article 219, Part 1. This punishes refusal to serve in the armed forces in peacetime with a maximum penalty of two years' imprisonment.
These latest sentences bring to eight the number of known conscientious objector prisoners of conscience in Turkmenistan, all of them Jehovah's Witnesses.
Torture of CO complainant to the UN Human Rights Committee and his family
Moreover, these sentences come as the complaints of ten Turkmen Jehovah's Witness conscientious objectors – including Matyakubov and Aminov - are being considered by the United Nations Human Rights Committee.
The complainants, led by Navruz Nasyrlayev, filed complaints of torture and violation of their rights to freedom of religion or belief with the UN Human Rights Committee on 3 September 2012.
These complaints have noted that in the Seydi Labour Camp - where most conscientious objectors (COs) are held - COs have regularly been subjected to spells in the punishment cell, whilst some have been brutally beaten.
On 24 January, 30 police officers raided the home of Navruz Nasyrlayev in Dashoguz. Two family members and four guests were detained for up to 40 hours. All were beaten and tortured, one of them severely, while one detainee was threatened with being raped in the police station. Three were then fined.
What you can do
War Resisters' International calls for protest letters to the Turkmen authorities, and Turkmen embassies abroad, either by fax, email or letter.
A protest email can be sent at www.wri-irg.org/node/21305. Please also write to:
Kurbanguly Berdymuhammedov, President of Turkmenistan, Apparat Prezidenta, 744000 Ashgabat, Turkmenistan, Fax: +993 12 355112.
Rashid Meredov, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Magtymkuli ave., 85, 744000 Ashgabat, Turkmenistan, eMail firstname.lastname@example.org.
You can find a list of embassies abroad here.
War Resisters' International calls for Dovran Matyakubov, Matkarim Aminov, Yadgarbek Sharipov and Arslan Dovletov's sentences to be quashed, and all legal proceedings against conscientious objectors to military service in Turkmenistan to cease.
War Resisters' International: Turkmenistan: Four conscientious objectors imprisoned – two for the second time – and complainants harassed. 22 February 2013