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Turkmenistan Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights

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New cases of pressure on activists in Turkmenistan and abroad

New cases of pressure on activists in Turkmenistan and abroad

In recent days, there have been reports from Turkmenistan of detentions of civil activists in various regions.

Thus, according to turkmen.news, on the evening of July 16, former doctor Khursanai Ismatullayeva, who was dismissed in the summer of 2017 under a far-fetched pretext, was detained from her home in the city of Gokdepe, Akhal province, and taken away in an unknown direction. The detention followed a day after her case was mentioned during an online meeting on “Repression Practices in Central Asia: Voices of Human Rights Defenders” organized by several MEPs. Late in the evening, about 10 policemen and people in civilian clothes came to Ismatullayeva's house, who took with them all the office equipment and telephones they had at home (https://turkmen.news/human-rights/ismatullaeva-urgent/).

According to unconfirmed reports, on the same day, another activist was detained in Dashoguz, his whereabouts are unknown.

Turkmen activists in Turkey have also complained about increased pressure in recent months.

For example, 36-year-old Merdan Joraev, who works at a construction site in Istanbul, began speaking openly on TikTok a few months ago criticizing the Turkmen regime. The reaction of the Turkmen authorities soon followed. On April 20, his sister Aziza Khemrayeva, who lives in the 1st microdistrict of Turkmenabad, was summoned to the house administration, where unidentified people in civilian clothes who refused to identify themselves, let her listen to Merdan's speeches, photographed her in front and profile and warned her brother to no longer speake on the Internet, and for a new passport "may return to Turkmenistan." On May 4, she was again summoned for a conversation, threatened that “we will make the whole family traitors to the Motherland, and we will expel the children from kindergarten and school” (29-year-old Aziza is a housewife, raising five minor children). On May 11, she was taken away in a closed car to an unknown place, where she was kept indoors for about 4 hours. They threatened her, they threw a bottle of water at her... Aziza said that her brother was an adult with his own position, she was not responsible for him, and offered to call him. But the interrogators did not accept such an offer. They took the phone number of her husband Babamurad Elmuradov, who is working in Turkey, from her, after which they let her go, threatening that “next time it will be worse.”

In the last ten days of May, Elmuradov, who had not previously communicated with Merdan, began calling him, offering to meet, and when he refused, he turned to threats against the “traitor”. After the activist blocked his calls, threats began to come through IMO to Merdan's second sister in Turkey. On June 8, the activist received a call from an unknown person who identified himself as a member of the Turkish police. He said that he knew where Merdan lived (given the address), that his documents were expired and the police had received a complaint, so he would be detained in the near future. In the subsequent correspondence there are words: “you have nothing to do in this country”, “I will not leave you alone”, “I will deal with you until Thursday”, etc. Merdan doubts that such phrases could come from a policeman. Then other suspicious calls followed... In June, Aziza told her brother that she would no longer be able to communicate with him by phone, as she feared further pressure from the Turkmen authorities.

Turkmen Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights

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