War Resisters' International has learned from Forum 18 News Service that three conscientious objectors received prison sentences in Turkmenistan recently, bringing the total of conscientious objectors serving sentences to 10, of which eight are serving labour camp terms between 18 months and two years.
On 7 September 2010, Jehovah's Witness conscientious objector Ahmet Hudaybergenov was arrested, and in mid September he was sentenced to 18 months' imprisonment, apparently under Criminal Code article 219 (1), which punishes refusal to serve in the Armed Forces in peacetime with up to two years' imprisonment. It is thought that he has now been transferred to the labour camp near Seydi, where also other conscientious objectors are being held.
Already on 12 August 2010, Jehovah's Witness conscientious objector Dovleyet Byashimov was arrested, and later sentenced on 30 August. It is believed that he too was sentenced under article 219 (1).
On 4 August 2010, Jehovah's Witness conscientious objector Aziz Roziev was sentenced to 18 months' imprisonment by Seydi Town Court. It is believed that his appeal has been rejected.
All three are now being held at Seydi Labour Camp, where also conscientious objectors Shaduri Ushotov, Akmurat Egendurdiev, Sakhetmurad Annamamedov, Mukhammedmurad Annamamedov, and Navruz Nasyrlaev are serving their prison sentences (see co-alert, 10 February 2010).
The right to refuse military service is part of the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion guaranteed by Article 18 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), to which Turkmenistan acceded in 1997. It is also part of Turkmenistan's Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) human dimension commitments.
Turkmenistan's report to the UN Human Rights Committee under the ICCPR, submitted on 11 January 2010, contains just one sentence on alternative service, only to dismiss it (see report CCPR/C/TKM1 at http://www2.ohchr.org/english/bodies/hrc/docs/CCPR.C.TKM.1_ru.doc - in Russian). "The laws of Turkmenistan make no provision for alternative service," the sentence in Paragraph 337 declares bluntly. It gives no explanation or amplification.
A recent amendment to the military service act does not include any provisions for the right to conscientious objection (see CO-Update No 60, October 2010).
War Resisters' International calls for letters of support to the eight imprisoned conscientious objectors:
Seydi Labour Camp
746222 Lebap vilayet
War Resisters' International calls for the protest letters to the Turkmen authorities, and Turkmen embassies abroad.
President of Turkmenistan
Fax: +993 12 355112
War Resisters' International calls for the immediate cancellation of the sentences of Ahmet Hudaybergenov, Dovleyet Byashimov, Aziz Roziev, Navruz Nasyrlaev, Shaduri Ushotov, Akmurat Egendurdiev, Sakhetmurad Annamamedov, Mukhammedmurad Annamamedov and of all other imprisoned conscientious objectors.
War Resisters' International