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16 January 2020

TURKMENISTAN: Raids, searches, fines, threats, beatings, headscarf bans

Protestant women celebrating Christmas are the latest victims of police raids on worship meetings. Officers searched the home, seized telephones, forced the women to write statements and took photos and fingerprints. Officials often summon and threaten people known to be religious (including men who attend mosque, women who wear headscarves, and Jehovah's Witnesses). Eight Jehovah's Witnesses were fined in 2019.

22 November 2019

TURKMENISTAN: Latest conscientious objector jailed for three years

A court in Mary Region jailed 26-year-old Jehovah's Witness conscientious objector Serdar Dovletov for three years despite his chronic stomach ulcer that requires medical attention. Investigators accused him of "fraudulently" evading compulsory military service. Nine other conscientious objectors are serving jail terms in the Seydi labour camp in eastern Turkmenistan.

6 November 2019

TURKMENISTAN: Two new conscientious objector jailings

On 29 October, Ashgabat City Court rejected appeals of two 18-year-old Jehovah's Witnesses, David Petrosov and Selim Taganov, against their one-year jail terms for refusing compulsory military service on grounds of conscience. Nine conscientious objectors are now jailed, six of them in 2019. The United Nations ruled that Turkmenistan violated the rights of three more conscientious objectors jailed in 2013.

5 September 2019

TURKMENISTAN: Fourth known 2019 conscientious objector jailing

An Ashgabat court jailed 20-year-old Jehovah's Witness Azat Ashirov for two years on 31 July for refusing compulsory military service on grounds of conscience. He had set out his objections in writing and offered to perform an alternative civilian service. Instead prosecutors claimed he had evaded his obligation fraudulently. Seven Jehovah's Witness conscientious objectors are now jailed, four of them in 2019.

23 July 2019

TURKMENISTAN: Conscientious objector jailed for four years

In the third jailing of a conscientious objector in 2019, 19-year-old Jehovah's Witness Bahtiyar Atahanov was jailed for four years. This is the longest jail term known to have been handed to a conscientious objector, because the authorities deemed him a soldier after forcibly conscripting him. Other prisoners of conscience have received far longer jail terms.

3 June 2019

TURKMENISTAN: Second 2019 conscientious objector jailing

The 23-year-old Jehovah's Witness Muhammetali Saparmyradov was jailed for one year in March for refusing compulsory military service on grounds of conscience. He has joined 11 other jailed conscientious objectors in the labour camp in Seydi. Labour camp officials refused to discuss their prison conditions with Forum 18.

28 May 2019

TURKMENISTAN: In Ramadan, Muslims fear "extremism" accusations

Muslims increasingly fear being branded "extremists" if they visibly fast or mark Ramadan. Turkmenistan has jailed numerous Muslims on vague "extremism" accusations, including to punish them for meetings to study their faith. One Muslim stopped going to mosque after police summoned him. "Who is more important, Allah or the President?" an officer asked him.

9 May 2019

TURKMENISTAN: Human Rights Committee finds former prisoners' rights violated

The UN Human Rights Committee found Turkmenistan wrongly jailed three Jehovah's Witnesses for having religious literature, being at a religious meeting, and conscientious objection to military service respectively. The Foreign Ministry claimed to Forum 18 the country is working with the Human Rights Committee, but put the phone down when asked whether Committee Decisions would be implemented.

5 February 2019

TURKMENISTAN: 24 hours in airport, travel ban for Korans

Security personnel at Ashgabat Airport detained a woman working in Turkey bringing in Arabic Korans as gifts for relatives, questioning her for 24 hours. She was later banned from leaving Turkmenistan. Police are again forcibly shaving men under 40 with beards. Officers forced one victim to drink alcohol.

22 January 2019

TURKMENISTAN: New year, new jailed conscientious objector

With the 7 January one-year jailing of 18-year-old Azamatjan Narkulyev, 12 conscientious objectors – all Jehovah's Witnesses - are now jailed for refusing compulsory military service on grounds of conscience. No officials would comment on why, in defiance of United Nations calls, Turkmenistan jails these young men.

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