Turkmen President Announces Amnesty in Honor of Flag Day
On the eve of the Flag Day celebrated in Turkmenistan on February 19, President Berdymukhamedov signed a decree “On pardoning convicted persons.” No official sources reported on the number of people to be released during this amnesty. According to Turkmenistan Human Rights Initiative, on February 17, Penal Colony LBK/9 in Turkmenabad, built for 450 prisoners, released 30 people. Penal Colony MRK/16 in Bairamali, built for 800 prisoners, released about 100 prisoners. Recently, MRK/16 dismissed nearly all of its staff. No other information about the number of amnestied individuals is available. Turkmenistan has 14 prisons of various security levels.
Sources: Turkmenistan Chronicles, trend.az
Two Turkmen Activists Freed
A human rights group says that two Turkmen activists convicted of what it maintains were politically-motivated charges have been freed after serving out their prison terms. The New York-based Human Rights Watch says Sapardurdy Khajiev and Annakurban Amanklychev were wrongfully imprisoned since their arrest in June 2006 and suffered numerous health problems from their incarceration. Khajiev, Amanklychev, and Khajiev’s sister, Ogulsapar Muradova, were associated with the Turkmenistan Helsinki Foundation, a Turkmen human rights group in exile. They were detained in June 2006, just after having helped a French journalist with a documentary film about the dire state of human rights in Turkmenistan. In August 2006, all three were convicted of illegal weapons possession after a closed trial. Muradova died in suspicious circumstances in September 2006.
Source: Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty
Raid, Two-day Detentions, Torture, Rape Threat, Fines for Jehova's Witnesses
After the UN Human Rights Committee sought a response from Turkmenistan to complaints by 10 Jehovah's Witness conscientious objectors, about 30 police officers raided the lead complainant's family home in the northern city of Dashoguz. Six people were taken to a police station. According to their statements, seen by Forum 18 News Service, all six were beaten and tortured, one of them severely. In what Jehovah's Witnesses state was "particularly despicable treatment," one detainee was threatened with being raped on a table in the police station. Three were then fined. The raid, detentions, torture, beatings, threats, and fines, "were obviously designed to punish and intimidate the Nasyrlayev family for the ten complaints of conscientious objectors to military service filed against Turkmenistan," the lawyer for the conscientious objectors complained to the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights. No government official was prepared to discuss these human rights violations with Forum 18, including officials of the government's National Institute for Democracy and Human Rights. "No one has the right to beat me, humiliate me or hang me to the point of my passing out," one of the victims stated.
Source: Forum 18
Turkmenistan: Four new conscientious objector prisoners of conscience
Six months after each completing 18-month jail sentences in Turkmenistan for refusing compulsory military service on grounds of conscience, Jehovah's Witnesses Dovran Matyakubov and Matkarim Aminov have been sentenced in Dashoguz to an additional two years' jail term on the same charges. Two other conscientious objectors from Dashoguz were jailed for the first time in December 2012 and January 2013, Forum 18 News Service has learned. In the same period, a conscientious objector in the capital Ashgabad was given a large fine. These latest sentences bring the number of cases of known conscientious objector prisoners of conscience to eight, with an additional four men serving suspended prison sentences. In the Seydi Labour Camp, where most conscientious objector prisoners of conscience are held, they have regularly been subjected to spells in the punishment cell and some have been brutally beaten. One of the former prisoners contracted tuberculosis in the Camp. The family and friends of a conscientious objector prisoner of conscience who exercised their right to complain to the UN have been subjected to a raid by police, detentions, torture, beatings, interrogations, threats, and fines.
Source: Forum 18
Visits of Foreign Dignitaries Paralyzes Traffic in Ashgabat
Due to unprecedented security measures undertaken by Ashgabat authorities during the visit of Presidents of Ukraine and United Arab Emirates (UAE), traffic in the Turkmen capital was paralyzed. According to eyewitnesses, on February 16, Ashgabat road police blocked all main roads and highways one hour before the UAE President drove to the center of the city from the airport. This led to many kilometers of stand-still traffic. The same night the roads were blocked once again as the two Presidents travelled back to the airport.
Pedestrian movement was also restricted. When the Ukrainian President’s motorcade was going along Turkmenbashi avenue, policemen and agents in civilian clothes ordered pedestrians to clear the sidewalks and hide in underground passages, and shoved those who were slow in obeying these orders into the closest alleys and entrance halls of the residential buildings.
The authorities routinely block traffic on major highways when President Berdymukhamedov drives to work and back home. During his passage, residents of the buildings located along the route of his motorcade are prohibited from parking their cars in front of their homes, opening curtains, opening windows, or looking out of windows overlooking the streets where the President travels.
Turkmen Students Prohibited to Drive Cars
Turkmen students are compelled to provide written confirmation that they will not drive cars during the whole period of their studies until they graduate. In the document they must write: “If I (name of the student, year, and department) will drive or sit in a car driven by another student during the school year or any holiday period, I agree to be expelled from my institution and will not file any complaints.” There were several cases when students caused serious car accidents when driving. As a result of one such fatal accident, a father of a student involved was dismissed from his Ministry position. However, it is more common for the head of a university to be fired when his students cause problems.
Source: Turkmenistan Chronicles
Turkmenistan to Hold a Week of Health and Happiness
In accordance with the decree of President Berdymukhamedov, from April 1 - 7, Turkmenistan is to hold the Week of Health and Happiness. According to the decree, the Turkmenistan State Sports Committee, ministries, agencies, regional and Ashgabat city administrations, and public organizations are to organize various sporting events, mass cultural programs, and campaigns promoting healthy lifestyles.