Turkmen Prisons Closed to Visitors for Over Two Months

Prison visits have been banned since March 5 in Turkmenistan because of coronavirus-related quarantine. Prisoners are experiencing major problems with foodstuffs and medicines, as state supplies are reduced across the country because of the crisis, and medicines have always been difficult to obtain in the prison camps.

Relatives await food parcel transfer at Bayramaly camp

Though families have not been able to see their relatives for more than two months, they can send them parcels but with significant restrictions. For example, in order to send a parcel to two neighboring colonies LB-K/11 (strict regime) 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 (see the map below). Three times a month, on the 16th, 17th and 18th of the month, colony employees make the journey to the marble arch there to collect parcels.

People complain that much of what they send does not reach the prisoners, while some foodstuffs, for example, fresh meat, chicken or fish, are no longer fit for consumption by the time they get to their recipients.

Uch Aji is over 200 kilometers from Seydi and it takes the prison bus four hours to make the journey. In April, 48 tonnes of food parcels were sent in this way, according to turkmen.news’ sources.

Many prisoners used to ask for money rather than foodstuffs, as it’s better for them to buy food in the canteen, though at higher prices, than to try and keep their food parcels when they have no storage facilities. Under the new regulations money sent in the parcels goes missing.

“We collected more than 2,000 manats and put them in the parcel together with rice, oil, and tinned goods, but only the food reached the prison camp; the money disappeared,” a source in Ahal region told turkmen.news.

People don’t understand why this strict quarantine is needed if the official figures are right and there is no coronavirus in the country. No one knows when the quarantine and visiting restrictions will be lifted.