Turkmenistan: Freedom Now Petitions UN on Behalf of Lawyer Pygamberdy Allaberdyev
On October 12, 2021, Freedom Now and the international law firm Vinson & Elkins LLP filed a petition with the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention on behalf of Turkmen lawyer Pygamberdy Allaberdyev. The petition argues that Turkmenistan’s detention of Allaberdyev is related to the legitimate exercise of his right to freedom of expression, a direct violation of his rights under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
“Pygamberdy Allaberdyev sought to improve his country and in response Turkmenistan used fabricated and trumped-up charges to wrongfully imprison him,” said Freedom Now Legal Officer Adam Lhedmat. “We are confident that the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention will conclude that his fundamental human rights have been violated and that he should be released immediately.”
Prior to his arrest, Allaberdyev worked for the Nebitdagneft department of the Ministry of Oil and Gas of Turkmenistan. In the months leading up to his arrest, he began to make his views public.
On September 5, 2020, Allaberdyev was arrested on hooliganism charges resulting from an incident at a grocery store where he was physically attacked by an unidentified individual. Despite the fact that he did not start the altercation, Allaberdyev was charged, while his assailant was set free. Allaberdiyv’s arrest occurred in the lead-up to a pro-democracy rally that he was organizing. While interrogating Allaberdyev, authorities focused their questions on his connections with activists associated with the rally rather than on the incident at the grocery store.
On September 29, 2020, Allaberdyev was convicted and sentenced to six years imprisonment for hooliganism. The judgment was handed down after a two-hour trial that was closed to the public. Allaberdyev was not represented by a lawyer during the proceedings as his original lawyer withdrew from the case after apparent government pressure. Since his conviction, Allaberdyev has been held incommunicado since his initial arrest. Prison authorities have consistently denied requests for his family to contact him.