Coronavirus Reaches Turkmen Prisons
Mansur Mingelov, a defender of the rights of ethnic Balochis in Turkmenistan, is desperately ill in a prison infirmary. He is being held at strict regime colony LB-K/11 in Lebap region in eastern Turkmenistan. Mingelov, 46, is suffering from acute osteomyelitis of the distal tibia, complicated by tuberculosis. He has also been diagnosed with a cold abscess and toxicosis. In addition to his purulent leg, the activist has a high temperature. His family cannot send him essential medicines, however, because of COVID restrictions.
When he was arrested in 2012, Mansur Mingelov was badly beaten and suffered several fractures. Osteomyelitis is a suppurative inflammation of the bone marrow and cortex and may subsequently involve the periosteum and surrounding soft tissue. A cold abscess is the name for an accumulation of low-activity pus. Toxicosis of the entire organism occurs in such situations because harmful matter from the damaged leg spreads throughout the body.
Mingelov is in the colony’s infirmary and has lost a lot of weight. He previously had an operation on his leg in the prison colony but it did not help. Now he urgently requires a large number of medicines, including four types of antibiotic alone: rifampicin, kanamycin, streptomycin and levosol. The doctors though have said that the medicines might be too late to save the patient. Mingelov urgently needs to see a TB specialist and a bone surgeon and to receive treatment to remove the toxins from his body.
He has no access to the medications or specialists in the prison colony. His family is ready to bring the medications, but cannot do so because of the COVID ban on visits and parcels.
Mingelov needs an urgent transfer to a civilian hospital and to receive the medications as soon as possible.
In summer 2018 Mansur Mingelov nearly died for lack of suitable treatment in the colony. Only after his case received media attention was he transferred to the hospital for convicts MR-B/15, where he was diagnosed with tuberculosis. His life was saved but he was sent back to the prison colony before completing treatment. He already complained then of pains in his legs and joints.
The persecution of Mansur Mingelov began in 2012 when a criminal case was brought against his brother. On June 6 that year Mansur was arrested as part of the case. He was badly beaten by officers of the State Service for the Protection of a Healthy Society (now defunct). He was illegally placed in a drug rehabilitation center for 15 days, though he had never taken drugs, so that the wounds from the beatings could heal. On June 22, Mingelov was released because there was no evidence a crime had been committed.
But Mansur Mingelov decided not to let the drug-enforcement officers get away with it. He complained to the president, the prosecutor’s office, the U.S. embassy and OSCE representative office in Ashgabat. Between June 25 and August 2 Mingelov collected documentary evidence of another 11 cases of torture of residents of Mary region who were, like him, ethnic Balochis. Five days later, a new criminal case was fabricated, and as a result Mingelov received a 22-year sentence. He was found guilty of involving minors in anti-social activities (drinking beer with girls), spreading pornography (which investigators uploaded onto Mingelov’s computer in front of him), smuggling and selling drugs (which Mansur allegedly imported from Iran in May 2012 when he was actually in Thailand).
Initially Mingelov served his sentence in the Ovadan Depe “political” prison, where he was beaten. He was then transferred to colony LB-K/11. In spring 2014 he was to be returned to Ovadan Depe, but Mansur declared an open-ended dry hunger strike and kept it for 19 days. Mingelov stopped his strike when the head of the Department of Corrections, Chary Geldyyev, promised to arrange a review of his case. Geldyyev did not keep his promise.
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