War Resisters' International is concerned about the recent sentencing and imprisonment of Zafar Abdullaev, a Jehovah's Witness, for his conscientious objection to military service. Zafar Abdullaev, 24, was sentenced on 6 March 2012 by the Dashoguz City Court to two years' imprisonment for his refusal to perform military service. He had previously served a two year suspended sentence on the same charges.
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).
The Human Rights Committee stated in its Concluding Observations following a discussion of Turkmenistans human rights situation during its 104th session in Geneva on 15 and 16 March 2012: "The State party should take all necessary measures to review its legislation with a view to providing for alternative military service. The State party should also ensure that the law clearly stipulates that individuals have the right to conscientious objection to military service. Furthermore, the State party should halt all prosecutions of individuals who refuse to perform military service on grounds of conscience and release those individuals who are currently serving prison sentences." (CCPR/C/TKM/CO/1)
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 release of Zafar Abdullaev and of all other imprisoned conscientious objectors.
War Resisters' International