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Turkmenistan Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights

Turkmenistan

Political prisoners in Turkmenistan are limited in contacts with relatives

Political prisoners in Turkmenistan are limited in contacts with relatives

Work continues on the creation of a filtration camp in the east of the country.

Relatives of political prisoners in Turkmenistan complain about the restrictions on visits, correspondence and parcels introduced in Turkmen prisons, citing COVID-related quarantine measures. The restrictions were adopted almost a year ago, while any alternative means of communication (for example, telephone conversations with relatives) are not provided to political prisoners.

Thus, the family members of a lawyer from Nebitdag, Pygambergeldy Allaberdiev, who was sentenced to 6 years in prison on a fabricated criminal case, after his arrest in September 2020, never had a meeting, did not receive letters from him, and were officially able to deliver only one parcel (before sentence). They still have not been able to find out if Allaberdyev was able to appeal the verdict. In November 2020, it became known that the convicted lawyer was being held in a colony in the village. Akdash (in western Turkmenistan), intended for former law enforcement officers. His health has deteriorated, his "legs hurt badly", but he does not receive medical care, and the colony administration refuses to allow the transfer of necessary medicines.

From the colony in Bayramali, it was reported that in the fall of 2020, a group of religious prisoners was transferred to the notorious Ovadan-Depe prison under the pretext of quarantine measures. Relatives of one of them said that they were able to get the last meeting in Bayramali only at the beginning of 2020, then only parcels were allowed. After their son was transferred to Ovadan Depe in October 2020, the administration of this prison reported that any parcels were prohibited due to quarantine.

According to various sources, work continues in the Lebap velayat on the creation of a quarantine and filtration camp intended for citizens of Turkmenistan who will return from abroad, primarily from Turkey. The purpose of the camp, according to local sources, is not only to quarantine measures related to COVID, but also to filter citizens for possible links with the protest movement. It is supposed, in particular, verification of electronic media. To this end, Turkmenistan purchased from Israel specialized equipment and software for unlocking phones, tablets and laptops. The camp could be up and running this spring.

Tajigul Begmedova, Turkmen Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights

Vitaly Ponomaryov, Human Rights Center «Memorial»

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