The Turkmen authorities continue to use punitive psychiatry as a tool to combat dissent.
For over two and a half years Nurmukhammed Agaev, born 1963 in the Chardjou region (currently the Lebap velayat), has been detained in a psychiatric hospital.
N. Agaev resided in the village of Kakhka, the Akhal velayat and was involved in sale of radio sets. To attract the customers, among other advantages of his merchandise he mentioned that these radio sets could receive the broadcasts from Radio Azatlyk (the Turkmen Service of Radio Liberty). In fact, Azatlyk radio station enjoys popularity in Turkmenistan, which is closed to outside information. Moreover, the radio sets capable of receiving Azatlyk radio signals are in a big demand.
The Turkmen special services were outraged by the advertisement of the «adversary radio station». Nurmukhammed Agaev was detained in January 2006. However, the police did not file criminal charges. Moreover, no essential elements of the offence were identified. N. Agaev was placed in a psychiatric hospital in the town of Abadan (formerly, Bezmein). Later he was transferred to a psychiatric hospital located in the village of Boyunuzyn. He has been detained there till present.
His brother (regrettably we failed to identify his name) made attempts to defend Nurmukhammed by filing complaints about the unauthorized actions of the law-enforcement authorities. In his complaints he mentioned other cases of human rights violations in Turkmenistan As a result, he was also placed in psychiatric hospital and has remained there since.
All this time, the medical doctors have been providing «treatment» to them by injecting potent drugs. Let us remind that in January 2006 in the town of Turkmenabat Kakabai Tedjenov was placed in a psychiatric hospital, the author of «Statements on human rights violations in Turkmenistan». In October 2006 K. Tedjenov was subsequently released under the international pressure.
In 2004 Gurbandurdy Durdykuliev was forcibly placed in a psychiatric hospital for his collaboration with Radio Azatlyk. He was released in 2006 following the letter from the US Congress Members and Senators addressed to S. Niyazov.
The latest well-known example is the case of a non-staff employee of the Turkmen Service of Radio Liberty Sazak Durdymuradov. On June 20, 2008 S. Durdymuradov was hospitalized in a psychiatric clinic. Only after the US Department of State expressed grave concerns about his case on June 28, he was subsequently released on July 5.
It has been reported only in recent days that Nurmukhammed Agaev and his brother have been forcibly detained in the psychiatric hospital in the village of Boyunuzyn on unjustified grounds. One can only make rough assumptions on the number people, who have suffered and continue to suffer from the use of punitive psychiatry after expressing discontent with the existing political regime.
The Turkmen Initiative for Human Rights is concerned about the fate of N.Agaev and his brother and calls on the international community to get involved in the situation and urge the Turkmenistan’s government to immediate release them.
We call on the Turkmen authorities to stop applying punitive psychiatry to punish those who, according to the Turkmen special services, are dissatisfied with the existing rules.
Forcibly placing mentally sane people into psychiatric clinics violates not only medical and legal principles, but also ethical norms. Despite repeated statements by the Turkmen authorities on the implemented reforms and the democratization of the society, the use of punitive psychiatry towards dissenters demonstrates that Turkmenistan still ranks among the countries with the repulsive political regimes.
Chairman of TIHR Farid Tuhbatullin http://www.chrono-tm.org/?0258044272000000000000011000000