UN WGAD found deprivation of liberty of alleged Gulenists in Turkmenistan “arbitrary”

Resulberdy Atageldiyev

The UN Working group on Arbitrary Detention defined “arbitrary” the arrest of 18 citizens of Turkmenistan for their alleged connection to the Hizmet movement headed by Turkish preacher Fethullah Gülen.

The official charge against them was “incitement of social, national, ethnic, racial or religious hostility” and “organization of or participation in a criminal organization.» The trial was held behind closed doors and only four lawyers were allowed in. In total, the accused received sentences for 333 years of imprisonment.

The Working Group noted that the conditions of detention violated several articles of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights as well as the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. The Turkmen authorities failed to answer the UN’s requests for clarification. The Working Group concluded that the arrests of these individuals were carried out in violation of their right to exercise freedom of association.

The members of the UN Working Group noted that the court did not mention crimes in its verdict, but only listed a short biography of each of the accused, matching them with a prison sentence. In addition, the two-hour trial was carried out within the premises of the AH-D/1 prison in the village of Yashlyk. Lawyers, who were invited only formally, could not present arguments in defense of their clients.

The Working Group also qualified as disproportionate the prison terms assigned by the court: nine of the convicts were given 12 years, while the other nine were given 25 years in prison, despite the fact that none of them had prior conviction. In addition, every convict had been subjected to torture and beatings during the investigation stage, several among the accused reported broken bones. Some of them complained saying they were kept naked in dark cells, for long periods.

The opinion was rendered at the 80th session of the Working Group in November 2017. The document is available in English.

The Working Group believes that all 18 inmates should be immediately released and given compensation or other reparation in accordance with international law.

A list of the names and biographies of the convicted individuals is provided below:

Mr. Mekan Yagmyrov was born in 1991 and is a Turkmen national. He worked as a maths and information technology teacher and usually resided in the city of Tejen, Turkmenistan. He was arrested on 6 September 2016.

Mr. Dovletgeldi Orazov was born in 1987 and is a Turkmen national. He worked as a maths teacher and resided in Tejen. He was arrested on 9 September 2016.

Mr. Gurbanmuhammet Godekov was born in 1983 and is a Turkmen national. He worked as an English teacher and resided in Tejen. He was arrested on 20 September 2016.

Mr. Shatlyk Durdygylyjov was born in 1981 and is a Turkmen national. He was unemployed and usually resided in the village of Kemine in the Turkmengala region of Mary Province, Turkmenistan. He was arrested on 5 October 2016.

Mr. Mekan Godekov was born in 1987 and is a Turkmen national. He worked as a maths teacher and resided in Tejen. He was arrested on 18 October 2016.

Mr. Nurmuhammet Orazov was born in 1984 and is a Turkmen national. He worked as a geography teacher in Tejen. He was arrested on 18 October 2016.

Mr. Merdan Gylychdurdyyev was born in 1985 and is a Turkmen national. He was unemployed and usually resided in the town of Anew, in the Ak Bugday region of Ahal Province, Turkmenistan. He was arrested on 21 October 2016.

Mr. Guvanch Gazakbayev was born in 1983 and is a Turkmen national. He was unemployed and usually resided in the town of Anew in the Ak Bugday region of Ahal Province, Turkmenistan. He was arrested on 1 November 2016.

Mr. Sapardurdy Yagshybayev was born in 1980 and is a Turkmen national. He was unemployed and resided in Ashgabat. He was arrested on 15 November 2016.

Mr. Murat Gullyyev was born in 1983 and is a Turkmen national. He was the director of a private company and resided in Tejen. He was arrested on 5 October 2016.

Mr. Resulberdy Atageldiyev was born in 1979 and is a Turkmen national. He was the director of a private company and resided in Ashgabat. He was arrested on 11 October 2016.

Mr. Dovletgeldy Amangeldiyev was born in 1976 and is a Turkmen national. He was a private businessman and usually resided in the village of Yalkym in the Abadan area of Ashgabat. He was arrested on 11 October 2016.

Mr. Dovletmurat Atayev was born in 1976 and is a Turkmen national. He was a private businessman and usually resided Tejen. He was arrested on 14 October 2016. 17.

Mr. Annamamed Orazmammedov was born in 1980 and is a Turkmen national. He was the deputy director of a school and usually resided in Tejen. He was arrested on 18 October 2016.

Mr. Tachmuhamed Orazmuhamedov was born in 1978 and is a Turkmen national. He was the deputy director of a school and usually resided in Tejen. He was arrested on 18 October 2016.

Mr. Batyr Atayev was born in 1975 and is a Turkmen national. He worked as a geography teacher and usually resided in Tejen. He was arrested on 18 October 2016.

Mr. Ovezdurdy Melayev was born in 1975 and is a Turkmen national. He was a private businessman and usually resided in Ashgabat. He was arrested on 18 October 2016.

Mr. Saparmurat Ibrayymov was born in 1984 and is a Turkmen national. He was the head of the Turkmen State Immigration Service in Tejen, Ahal Province, and usually resided in Tejen. He was arrested on 1 November 2016.

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