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Turkmenistan Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights

Turkmenistan

In Turkmenistan and abroad continue to put pressure on activists

In Turkmenistan and abroad continue to put pressure on activists

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 police officers and people in civilian clothes came to Ismatullayeva's house and took with them all the office equipment and telephones they had at home.

Today, a group of Turkmen activists living abroad issued a statement in which they expressed concern about the detention on July 16 in Abadan district of Ashgabat, 32-year-old Alty Dushemov. Police officers refuse to inform relatives about his whereabouts and the reasons for his detention. A week earlier, Alty Dushemov sent one of the foreign Turkmen bloggers a video of a conversation with a bank security guard, in which he asks about the legal basis for the requirement to wear masks in the bank premises. The entry has been published.

The activists' appeal notes that Alta's brother, 37-year-old Murat Dushemov, who is the author of social videos posted on Youtube, was previously detained and sentenced to 15 days of administrative arrest. On June 15, he was brought to administrative responsibility for petty hooliganism (Article 345 of the Code of Administrative Offenses) for demanding that the head of the local polyclinic, Nazarova, familiarize him with the order on vaccination against coronovirus. The next day, the district court fined him 100 manats. On July 6, the Ashgabat City Court rejected the activist's cassation appeal.

On July 7, Murat Dushemov with his friend Juma Jumakaev and his wife Leyla Nurmetova left Ashgabat for Dashoguz by car. At 142 km of the route, the car was stopped by the traffic police. Police Captain B. Saparov demanded to see a certificate confirming the “negative result” of the PCR test for coronavirus. The passengers, for their part, demanded that the officer indicate the legal grounds for such a requirement. Saparov promised to "submit the document", after which the passengers were forced to wait on the side of the road in almost 50-degree heat. Four hours later, the driver Jumakaev parked the car across the highway as a sign of protest, after which he and Murat Dushemov were detained. On the same day, the Ruhubelent District Court of Dashoguz province found them guilty of “petty hooliganism” and sentenced them to 15 days of arrest with the confiscation of their mobile phones, which had video recordings of the incident. Both are currently in custody. Jumakayev's wife was fined 100 manats.

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

Merdan Joraev, 36, a construction worker in Istanbul, began speaking publicly on TikTok a few months ago to criticize 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 called in 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, 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 correspondence that followed, there are words: “you have nothing to do in this country”, “I will not let you live here”, “I will deal with you by 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.

Update: According to turkmen.news, Murat Dushemov was not released from the temporary detention facility after serving 15 days of arrest for blocking traffic on an interregional highway. He faces a criminal charge: two people were planted in the cell where the activist was, and they started a fight with each other. When a guard looked in, the two said that Dushemov allegedly attacked both of them.

Tajigul Begmedova, Turkmen Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights

Vitaly Ponomaryov, Human Rights Center «Memorial»

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