Turkmenistan: New Charges Fabricated Against Civil Activists

Turkmenistan’s special services are continuing to fabricate criminal cases against civilian activists and others whose actions supposedly threaten the country’s national security. In fact, those charged have committed no crime whatsoever and their only “guilt” is the desire to help others and to improve, if only slightly, the situation in their homeland.

MR-K/16 camp in Bayramaly, Mary region

Turkmen.news has managed to discover the names of another three activists who are at present serving unmerited sentences. We consider them political prisoners and demand their immediate release!

We call upon the international community to exert pressure on the government of Turkmenistan and the new head of state, Serdar Berdimuhamedov, to ensure the release of these and other political prisoners as soon as possible.

  • Dmitriy Yuryevich Medvedev — a programmer from Mary region, born in 1970. He is the creator of the ALLAKM online accounting system, which is used by many Turkmen state enterprises and private businesses. A case of fraud was fabricated against him and he received a four-year prison sentence. In reality, he committed the “offence” of providing material assistance to the victims of the hurricane that hit two regions of Turkmenistan in 2020, causing significant damage and loss of life. The special services accused the activist of supposedly receiving money “from the West” to help the families. The official media practically turned the natural disaster into a state secret.
  • Allanazar Hangeldyyevich Korhanov — born in Ahal region in 1973. He sent a video to the opposition movement DVT. A case was fabricated against him under Article 108 of the Turkmen Criminal Code “Moderately severe deliberate bodily harm.” He received the same term as Medvedev — four years’ detention.
  • Annamurat Ashurov — he worked with Radio Azatlyk, according to turkmen.news’ source in the law-enforcement agencies. The radio station has not confirmed this, but it’s possible that he worked anonymously. Ashurov was also sentenced to four years in a fabricated case of fraud. He’s not a young man though. He was born in 1955, so is now 67.

Much is unclear in all these stories. When were all three sentences passed, i.e. how many years do each of the political prisoners still have to serve? The turkmen.news sources reported one thing definitely: all three are serving their sentences at present. None of them were named in the amnesty to mark Qadr Night, nor were other political prisoners who were convicted in recent years.

  • Nurgeldi Halykov — sentenced in September 2020 to four years for sending turkmen.news a photograph of members of a WHO mission. A fraud case was fabricated against him.
  • Hursanay Ismatullaeva — a doctor who fought for her employment rights and against her unfair dismissal from the Ene Mahri clinic in Gokdepe. In mid-July 2021 the doctor’s dismissal was mentioned in an online discussion organized by members of the European Parliament on “Repressive Practices in Central Asia: Voices of Human Rights Activists.” The next day, July 16, Ismatullaeva was arrested. In September she was sentenced to nine years under three articles of the Criminal Code, including “fraud.”
  • Serezha (this is his first name) Babaniyazov — it was initially reported that his written comments on YouTube were the reason for fabricated charges of spreading pornography. It has since emerged that Babaniyazov put up posters in Balkanabat critical of corruption and sent a photograph of a poster to an activist abroad. Babaniyazov was identified and sentenced to two years’ imprisonment.
  • Murat Dushemov — actively criticized on the Internet the cover-up of the coronavirus pandemic in Turkmenistan. He received four years, supposedly for extortion and moderately severe deliberate bodily harm.  
  • Mansur Mingelov — a defender of the rights of ethnic Balochis. He was sentenced in 2021 to 22 years’ detention on several fabricated charges. Mingelov has problems with his health as a result of torture.
  • Murat Ovezov — a speaker on YouTube, he recited a poem about the presence of coronavirus in Turkmenistan. He was sentenced to five years supposedly for fraud.  

A total of 514 people were released in this amnesty. Sources in Turkmenistan observe that this is the lowest number in the past few years.

“In 2021, 1,035 people were pardoned to mark Qadr Night, twice as many people as this year. In 2020, 1,192 people were pardoned; in 2019, 764,” the source said.

Conditions in Turkmen prison colonies leave much to be desired. Prisoners go hungry and suffer beatings and abuse, which is revealed in a series of articles based on the accounts of Iranians who served prison terms in Turkmenistan. The modern view is that even genuine criminals should not suffer harsh conditions in prison. But it is doubly unfair for people to spend long years in these conditions when their sole “guilt” is to send information to someone about life in Turkmenistan or to try to help those in need.