Sacked After Ten Years at the Top – What Brought Down Turkmenistan’s Interior Minister?
Lawlessness and corruption remain rife among the police in Turkmenistan, as the case of a young man in the northern region of Dashoguz shows. Mansur Karimov, 20, a resident of Bossan farmers’ association in S.A. Niyazov district, is being held illegally in the addiction clinic in the city of Dashoguz at the demand of the district police. He is tortured every day to force him to confess to stealing water pumps from a local store.
Mansur Karimov rejects these accusations. He was initially arrested following the complaint of a neighbor from whom the young man stole a pump for watering vegetable plots. The guy admitted this, but the police decided to pin on him the earlier unsolved crime too. They are trying to persuade Mansur that he will be released in the next amnesty as long as he signs the papers and attests to his guilt in court.
Sources told turkmen.news that a criminal case against the young man hasn’t even been opened yet, and he is being held in the Dashoguz addiction clinic as though he were an alcoholic. Every evening he is taken from the clinic to the district police, where he is beaten on the soles of his feet so that no marks are left. He is taken back to the clinic in the dead of night.
“There are five people in similar situations in just one ward in the addiction clinic,” a source told turkmen.news. “One guy and his friend decided to go for a drive in the friend’s car on New Year’s Eve. The young people were drunk and hit a post. The police started to bargain with the driver: either they fit him up with stealing the car or he admits to theft of a television. After a week of interrogations and beatings the young man signed a confession of theft.”
The case is continuing: the young man is still held illegally in the addiction clinic and beaten every day to force him to confess to a crime he did not commit.
The conditions in the addiction clinic are terrible. People are taken to the toilet twice a day, having first had a headcount. If anyone wants to go before the next trip to the lavatories, they have to use a large bottle that stands in the corner of the room for that purpose. In the morning they are given sloppy semolina cooked with water and for lunch they have soup with pasta, ten pieces of pasta per person, with poorly peeled vegetables and no meat. For supper they have tea and wheat gruel (bugday yarmasi). Wards designed for six hold 10 to 12 people.
Mansur Karimov’s parents complained to the clinic’s chief doctor that their son was being held illegally; two weeks had already passed, his parents said, so he could be released. The doctor replied that they should go and talk to the police, as it wasn’t the clinic staff that had brought him there.
When the minister of internal affairs was replaced in early October last year, many people in Turkmenistan hoped for changes for the better in the police system, and there were some promising signs. However, Mansur Karimov’s story shows that abuse of power, torture, extracting confessions from the innocent, and corruption among the police have not gone away; quite the reverse, they are continuing to flourish.
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