Turkmenistan: 2 Die from Tortures at Police

City of Etrek on Google maps

On September 3, a detainee held in the Etrek police station in Balkan province cut his wrists and later died from bloodletting. Before committing suicide the man was severely tortured. Another detainee also died while in the hospital of Balkanabat, after having lost consciousness, an eyewitness who was at the Etrek police station told ATN.

“These people – and there were 25 or 30 of them – had to endure terrible treatment. I saw police officers jeering at a 25-year-old man. They cuffed his hands behind his back, took off his trousers and put his penis into an empty plastic bottle, tying it up so it would hang in between the unfortunate man’s legs. They forced him and the others to walk in these conditions for the entire day. The man started feeling pain in the genital area soon after the bottle was filled with his urine, putting an uncomfortable weight on the penis. The police kept him in this condition until he ‘recognized’ his guilt, saying he committed the offense and promising he would sign a confession,” the eyewitness said.

Most of the detainees are young men under 30. They are all suspected of drug-related crimes. According to the source, however, more than half of them were simply taken from the street, without any proof of wrongdoing. Then the police forced them to confess to a crime and sign a blank sheet, otherwise they would be tortured.

“The prison cells are cramped and stuffy; without air conditioning, the heat is unbearable. This is why they kept the detainees in the hallway. Constriction and lack of ventilation would already be characteristics of torture. In addition, the police keep their hands cuffed in a way that the detainees are left hanging, with their entire weight resting on the tip of their toes. Those who have experienced this torture, wished they could quickly die. After hanging in this position for a while, one would be ready to confess to anything, even to crimes he did not commit. These practices probably go even beyond what the Gestapo did during the war, but brutality is boundless at the Etrek police department,” the source said.

Unable to withstand the policemen’s torture, one detainee slashed his wrists. He could not be saved.

“This tragic event finally alarmed the police. On September 3, the detainees were transferred to the Balkanabat pre-trial detention center. None of the police officers responsible for bringing the detainee to commit suicide were suspended. This case would be closed and no penalty would be imposed,” the source said.

The transfer of the detainees from Etrek to Balkanabat did not mean safety to them either. On September 5, the Balkanabat police tortured one of the detainees accused of a drug-related crime with electric shocks, in order to force a confession out of him. The detainee refused to confess and the torture continued for hours. After he became unconscious, he was taken to the local hospital, where he died at 6 p.m.

“The police extort money from the detainees through their relatives. The officers zealously torment the detainees from whom they think they can ‘squeeze out’ more money. After charging them with a false accusation of drug trafficking or «Wahabism» — a term the authorities use for Muslims with religious views or practices that go beyond what is officially allowed, they torture them to exact a confession. Please, let the world know about this, tell everyone about the inhumane treatment of detainees at the Etrek and Balkanabat police stations. Hopefully, this brutality will stop and they will start checking and punishing the torturers after you publish the article,” the source wrote in a letter.

ATN is in the process of verifying the names of the deceased detainees and the other men tortured in the police. We ask our readers, who know other details of this story, to send us more information. Torture will continue if we remain silent about it.