Coronavirus Reaches Turkmen Prisons

Detainee Bayramdurdy Saparov died of coronavirus-related pneumonia on August 14. He was being held in strict regime prison colony LB-K/11 in Lebap region, eastern Turkmenistan. For two weeks Saparov was racked by chest pains and a lack of oxygen, but the colony’s infirmary was not equipped to look after him.

Turkmen prison colony in Bayramaly. Illustration

The prisoner literally died on the floor; throughout his two weeks of agony he received no help from any of the colony or infirmary staff, and no medicine either: the few medicines available in the colony are sold to the prisoners at several times the price on the outside.

The patient could not be taken to prison hospital MR-B/15, as all penitentiary institutions have been in quarantine because of coronavirus since the beginning of March. In order to send a parcel to the colonies LB-K/11 and LB-K/12 (ordinary regime) at Seydi in Lebap region, residents of other regions have to travel to the village of Uch Aji in Bayramaly district, Mary region, on the border with Lebap region. Colony employees travel there three times a month to collect the parcels.

Saparov was born in 1954 in Bayramaly district, Mary region. A former obstetrician-gynecologist, he was sentenced around 11 years ago on narcotics charges. He is reported to be far from the only prisoner to have died from coronavirus.

On June 29, 12 members of the US Senate wrote to Turkmen President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov to ask him to release Omruzak Umarkuliev, Gulgeldi Annaniyazov, and Mansur Mingelov (pictured), who are serving sentences for the peaceful expression of their views.

The senators called for the release of these individuals on the merits of their cases, but also urged the president to act quickly on health and humanitarian grounds, as people in places of detention are especially vulnerable to the coronavirus pandemic.

Mansur Mingelov is serving his undeserved sentence in colony LB-K/11, where Bayramdurdy Saparov died. Earlier, Mingelov nearly died of TB, but he was sent back to his prison colony before he was fully recovered. There has been no word of his health since then. calls on the government of Turkmenistan to immediately release Mansur Mingelov. We urge international organizations and Western governments to continue to put pressure on President Berdimuhamedov over Mingelov, who defendede the rights of ethnic minorities in Turkmenistan.